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Why TV Should Be ‘Up Front’ and Center for Retailers (Pun Intended!)



Spring is here and so is the Upfront. So TV is on everyone’s mind whether you participate in the Upfront or not. While some experts have predicted the decline and demise of television advertising, I think marketers should buy more TV, not less, especially in the retail category.

We have heard countless times that TV advertising is simply not sustainable given the growth of online marketing, social, mobile and other forms of digital media. But, when it comes to customer acquisition, the first screen is still the best screen. In fact, PwC has reinforced the need to pay close attention to TV. (1) That report stated that “despite the growth of digital media, TV advertising remains the place to be. Global TV advertising revenue is successfully responding to the rise of newer forms of digital media and will grow 5.5% over the next five years.”

A study by Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) supports what I’ve been telling marketers when they come to me with questions about their marketing mix; it’s time to get into the TV game. CAB studied the TV investment of pure-play Internet brands during the past five years, finding a direct correlation between TV spend and website traffic and revenue. It’s why, according to CAB, pure-play Internet brands have increased their TV spend by more than one third over the past five years, investing over $4 billion on TV last year alone. (2)

For retailers that have focused heavily on digital, now is the time to take a much closer look at TV. It’s critical to the marketing mix, and with the right model and management, TV can provide an effective, trackable and scalable option.

In the past, retailers might have spent ad dollars on TV to build their brands, or focused exclusively on digital advertising to stimulate transactions. Today, you no longer have to choose between brand building and direct sales. TV and digital can and should work together to help you build your brand and scale your business. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Consumers rarely focus on a single screen. The majority of people who own smartphones and tablets are using them while they watch TV. It’s important to know when and why people use their smartphones or tablets so you can create advertising campaigns that drive people to the Web, carrying the conversation from one screen to the next.
  • TV can benefit digital’s growth. Even as more attention is given to other screens, adults still spend an average of 4 hours and 28 minutes a day watching TV (3), accounting for 36.5 percent of their total time with media. Used correctly, TV can initiate the campaign and drive transactions through digital channels.
  • TV makes digital more effective. Digital advertising can only get you so far. When combined with TV, you dramatically increase the number of people who see your campaigns, and they become more transaction focused. Campaigns that leverage television and digital can be more efficient and ROI is easier to measure.

Direct response is the only form of TV advertising that can be measured the same way as digital advertising, integrating with other media channels to encourage a transaction. The ability to inspire consumer transactions and measure success is the reason why direct response makes TV more like digital. Combined with television’s broad reach, it’s clear why brands should make TV a significant part of their marketing mix.

To fully maximize your investment in TV and build campaigns that impact traffic and revenues, you must establish baselines; taking stock of your site visits and page views prior to campaign launch. You should be prepared to adjust your campaign by building algorithms that correlate time, expense, visits and views, which can then help you optimize future media buys and their impact.

One of the most important things I tell marketers is to measure daily. Taking regular stock of the analytics will make your advertising more efficient and help grow your business. By understanding what channels and ads are driving transactions, you can make adjustments to your media buys and adapt your strategy accordingly. With transaction-based reporting and results, justifying ad spend becomes much easier.

The notion of transactional brand building fits perfectly with brands that want to scale their business using television. Beyond TV ratings, traditional TV advertising can be difficult to measure. Inherent in direct response, however, are transactions as advertisers use campaigns to drive traffic to a website, call a phone number or send a text message, making TV more like digital for measuring success. Brands no longer have to wonder what happens next when they run ads on TV.

A few other things for retailers to remember:

  • Don’t mess with success. Traditional brick and mortar retailers have used television to drive foot traffic to stores for decades.
  • Respect your elders. While TV is an “older” medium, it doesn’t make it less effective. Online retailers are using TV to build their business and that is because even though digital is newer and “sexier”…nothing can match TV in terms of reach.
  • Hit two birds with one stone. Brick and mortar retailers should use TV to drive both foot traffic AND their online stores, which could offer special deals not found at the retail location to incent visits and purchases. Also, brick and mortar retailers are well positioned to have the benefit of both awareness to drive in person sales and traffic to their websites.

2) Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, “Cable Nation: What’s Driving Digital?”

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