By James Howard

At first glance, TV and Paid Search aren’t natural bedfellows. On the one hand, we have the juggernaut of traditional media, enabling advertisers to run broad-reaching, brand-led campaigns via reservation buys; on the other, an intent-focussed, text-only platform that’s managed in real-time via a self-serve platform. But the truth is that TV and Search overlap more than you might think, and ensuring that the two channels are in sync will maximise your chances of marketing success.

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TV is one of the most widely recognised forms of advertising - over 25% of advertising in the UK was via this channel in 2015 - while investment in digital channels, and PPC in particular, have been increasing at a breakneck pace over the last decade. Often, for any given company, these are two of the most significant marketing channels, and yet they are likely to be managed by separate agency partners (and even by two separate marketing departments within said company!), meaning that a siloed approach is often taken. This can lead to missed opportunities and a disconnect between the offline and online experience of the brand for potential customers.  

Google has developed its own tool to bridge the online/offline gap: TV Attribution. Running off a complex algorithm, TV Attribution measures the minute-by-minute impact that your TV ads are having on your site visits via Paid Search, Organic Search and Direct, additionally factoring in search query information which is exclusive to this tool, and soon YouTube. You can find out more in our blog post on TV Attribution. 


If you do not have access to a pre-packaged tool, however, there are ways you can tailor your PPC activity to better support a TV Campaign. Let’s take a look...   

Maximise your PPC visibility (efficiently!)

Cover all of your brand terms

Firstly, make sure you’re bidding on your own brand terms to fend of any competitors from taking top spot on your branded SERPs. It’s a common tactic for companies to bid on their competitor terms whilst they’re running large above the line (ATL) campaigns, to piggyback on their investment and siphon away traffic. Bidding on your own brand terms should be cheap (find out what to do here if it’s not) and keep your rivals at bay.

But aside from your core terms, make sure you’re covering off any others that users might be using to look for your brand, such as:

  • Common misspellings

  • Unique/viral slogans or catchphrases

  • Unique hashtags or calls to action

Don’t assume that everyone who sees your ad will remember the brand name correctly, particularly if you’re not a household name - covering off these terms maximises the opportunities for viewers to connect with your brand online.

Likewise, make the most of the fact that you’re covering these brand terms to align your search messaging with TV. Make sure the copy reflects the catchphrases, calls to action and pricing used in your TV creative; there’s nothing more disruptive to the customer journey than seeing one price in a TV ad, and another one when they go to search online. Aligning your messaging should make the offline-online transition effortless for the viewer and maximise your opportunities for conversion.

Make the most of mobile

The ways in which we consume media, particularly TV, has changed dramatically over the last decade. Gone are the days where we sit in front of the box with the family attentively for the entire evening; studies suggest that up to 87% of consumers globally use more than one device at a time. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many of us use our mobile phones while watching TV, and this needs to be factored into any paid search activity.

Increasing mobile traffic is a wider industry trend, but we often see the mobile-desktop disparity grow when clients run TV activity. When viewers see a TV ad, their nearest device is more often than not their mobile or tablet, so make sure your mobile strategy is on point!

It’s crucial to maintain prominence in mobile search throughout TV campaigns - use device modifiers to upweight your bids on mobiles and tablets. With the changes Google rolled out last year, it is once again possible to segment your campaigns by device, so you might even want to consider spinning your mobile/tablet traffic out into a separate campaign and managing bids separately with different ad scheduling.

Bid efficiently on generic terms

It’s not just brand terms you should be thinking about with TV; our analysis of our clients show that CTR increases even for generic terms when clients run TV, as the increased brand recognition increases the user’s propensity to click. Indeed, for one of our clients who'd never run any TV activity before, overall generic CTR jumped by 41% once TV was running, despite ad position, ad copy and the general competitive auction space remaining the same. However, it’s often not efficient to simply upweight your bids all day throughout the duration of your TV campaign, so it’s time to get creative. There’s a Google-published AdWords Script solution that automatically upweights your bids by a set percentage for 15 minutes around each of your TV ad slots. Using this helps ensure your visibility on generic terms is laser-focussed on the times where it’s most needed.

Comparison of non-brand CTR for a client before and after they started running a national TV campaign.

Make the most of the moment

Beyond reaching your TV audience in Search, it’s important to optimise the experience once they arrive on your site. These users are sitting in front of the TV, and have just seen your ad. That means in a few minutes time they’re likely to be back watching their show. You likely only have a short timeframe to make an impact, so make it count. Make sure your site is mobile optimised and lightning fast to ensure they can take in as much of your brand as possible.

Moreover, focus on the micro-conversions - what can the user achieve on your site in under 5 minutes? Perhaps you could offer a newsletter sign-up, or encourage them to download your app. Users are unlikely to make a purchase in such a short time-span, so make sure you’re offering them a means of engaging with your brand that maximises the opportunity for you to turn them into a paying customer at a later date. That newsletter they signed up for? Include a coupon for 10% off on their first purchase. The app they just downloaded? Use an app engagement campaign to turn them into an active user. Sometimes edging your customers further down the funnel in the short term pays larger dividends in the long run.

Understand the impact of TV on your Search activity

Second screen phenomenon (source: Revoseek.com)

Measuring the digital footprint of TV activity is a notoriously difficult task - there are a plethora of different methodologies proposed by measurement specialists, but there are a few simple things you can do with your search data to approximate the impact.

Use day-parted data in the dimensions tab of your AdWords account

This won’t be incredibly accurate, but can give you a snapshot, especially if your TV laydown is focussed on a specific time of day. If this is the case, you should look for uplifts in impressions and CTR in the time around your campaign. This will be particularly prevalent on brand campaigns, as many users will search for your website after seeing your TV ad. Compare this with historical activity from before your TV campaign and you should get a rough approximation of your uplift from TV activity.

Use Google Analytics hour and minute data

To dive a little deeper, you can use GA hour and minute data to match PPC sessions more closely to your TV activity. Minute-level data isn’t available directly in the GA interface, but can be accessed via the API, or via the GA plugin for Google Sheets. The latter tool assumes a familiarity with the GA platform, but isn’t otherwise particularly technical. Make sure you’re filtering only for sessions originating from PPC.

Once you’ve got the data, map the sessions minute by minute throughout the day - you should see peaks around the same time as your ad slots with a gradual tail off within a few minutes. Benchmark this against data that pre-dates your TV activity and you have an idea of how many immediate sessions TV drives to your site via Search. Again, a split between brand and non-brand traffic would be insightful to analyse.

Of course, with any of this analysis it’s important to notice that the impact of TV is far greater than driving a spike in searches happening immediately after the ad airs, but this does give an idea of the impact TV has on PPC.

Conclusion

TV advertising is a great way to broadcast your message to a broad audience, all while increasing your brand recognition. Converting that awareness into online action is tricky, but a well-aligned Paid Search campaign will not only support your TV activity but boost its performance by bringing customers from your TV ad onto your site. The key is to make sure the two channels are aligned from the start, with your Search team briefed on the planning of your above the line activity.

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