By Eleanor Tarrant

*IN-Sync: Bye Bye Bye to Manual Upweighting

In a world where the single-screen user journey is becoming a thing of the past, read on to discover why harnessing the power of the TV Sync is crucial for creating those magical multi-channel moments.

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We’ve all done it. We’ll be sat watching TV, let’s say the latest episode of Bake Off, when an ad catches our eye during commercial breaks (thanks Channel 4). We then immediately jump on our phones to find out more. And in that one step, welcome to what Google calls the ‘New Multi-screen World’. The reality is, 90% of today’s users move between screens to accomplish their goal and over three quarters of viewers watch TV whilst also using another device (source)In other words, it is crucial now more than ever to synchronise your TV and phone screen advertising, for that magical multi-channel experience.

How to tackle this from a Paid Search perspective you say?

We had one such question from a client recently who wanted to capitalise on a run of both branded and competitor TV advertising, by increasing PPC visibility for selected generic campaigns and maximising their share of voice during these key TV screen moments.

One way to approach this would be scheduling manual, time-based rules to increase keyword bids for when you know your TV ads will appear. However, not only is this an incredibly manual task and time-consuming to set up, it leaves the door open to all kinds of mismatching, inaccuracy and human error. Trying to sync with competitor TV ads is made even trickier, as this approach means you’re essentially reduced to guess work. As devoted PPC-ers in the ever-evolving quest for data-driven perfection, we know we can do better.

Enter 4C and their snazzy TV Syncing capabilities. By opting to use this platform, advertisers gain the ability to sync not only PPC but also Social, Video and Display activity in conjunction with their TV commercials in real time. In short, they provide the tools to “conquer the second screen”, as 4C so majestically put it.

The goal for our client was to boost visibility and traffic to site for key AdWords campaigns - 1) whilst own-brand TV spots were broadcast, and 2) when two top competitors had TV ad spots airing. Considering this client runs neither brand nor competitor based PPC campaigns, the results were set to be interesting. Here’s how we got on…

Here We Go: The Set Up

This was relatively simple. After linking AdWords with the 4C TV Sync platform, we created Activation Groups for the targeted campaigns in mind (have your campaign IDs handy, these will be required) and stated how great a bid adjustment we wanted to trigger. As a top tip from you to me, when deciding what area of the account you want to target, for ultimate relevancy you want to select the campaigns or ad groups that resonate the most with the TV ad. Seamless and streamlined cross-channel advertising? Check.

We then created our TV Sync Initiatives. These are where you decide what TV triggers will activate your bid upweights, when these triggers are eligible to run and how long the activation lasts for. In our case we ran two initiatives; we wanted to sync with commercial breaks across most major channels for every instance our TV commercial aired or when a competitor ad was broadcast. Your options here can be far more custom however, with options including tailoring to channel, programme, product category or even specific sports events. If I’d wanted to trigger ads for every slam dunk or steal by LeBron James in the NBA Playoffs for the Cleveland Cavaliers, I could. Pretty nifty (just like LeBron).

Once set up was complete, the initiative was ready to go and the month trial began…

Digital Get Down: The Results

To gauge how the activations triggered by the 4C TV Sync impacted PPC activity - most importantly how they influenced share of voice and traffic to site - we analysed average position, impression share and clicks as our KPIs. Since AdWords performance data wasn’t available to us in the 4C platform itself for direct comparison, we developed another approach: we downloaded all the activation history from 4C (specific date and time of each activation) and stitched this with AdWords data, which we’d segmented by date and hour. Excel wizardry at its best. This way, we’d be able to assess how the volume of activations compared to our KPIs on an hour by hour basis.

Brand Initiative Key Findings:

  • A high number of activations in the evening generally had a positive impact on generic impressions and clicks, with activation heavy hours being the peak traffic periods
  • With greater activations in the evenings boosting our bids, we were able to be more competitive in the auction at this time so we saw average positions and impression shares improve
  • We were interested to find that in some instances average CPCs became cheaper even though average position and impression share improved. This indicated to us that we were able to dominate a less saturated auction at these times
  • The impact of the 30-minute flight window became evident in our data: the uplifts in impressions and clicks often saw a time lag following a peak in activations, illustrating the prolonged effect a TV ad has on searching behaviour following airtime
  • Overall, the most pronounced impact of activations was seen on average positions and impression share. We identified the strongest correlation between activation volume and AP, as the below chart demonstrates
TV sync brand initiative

As the day kicks off the auction becomes more competitive, so average position decreases after early hours in line with expectations. AP then remains fairly constant over the course of the day, whilst activations remain at a similar, lower volume. In the evening however, when activations were collectively at their highest (5-8pm), we saw our average position significantly improve; jumping up to higher positions on the results page. At a more granular level, we can see that following the dip in activations at 10am, we saw a slight drop off in average position at 11am. When the brand TV ads had less air time, fewer triggers were fired as there was less incentive to dominate the top spot on the SERP. As a result, we were upweighting our bids less and our AP dipped.

In a nutshell, we were maximising our generic share of voice and ensuring our presence on that crucial 2nd screen during branded TV ad spots. Since we don’t bid on brand for this client, getting this exposure for generics whilst brand ads are aired meant we were fully present and front of mind across multiple screens.

Competitor Initiative Key Findings:

  • Since we don’t do any competitor bidding through Paid Search for this client, TV Syncing with their above the line commercials provided us with an alternative, more creative, option to compete
  • We saw really strong results through this initiative – for the month as a whole we saw boosted impressions and traffic to site during hours when total activations were higher, aka when the most competitor TV ads were shown
  • This strong correlation between activations and traffic was proven to us when we noted that a 35% drop in activations at 3pm had a knock-on impact on click volume, which dipped 17% in the hour directly after
  • The large number of activations led us to be more competitive in the auction, as demonstrated by improvements in average position during high activation hours (see graphs below). Essentially, we were able to boost our impression share at key times competitors’ TV ads were broadcast
TV sync competitor initiative - graph 1
TV sync competitor initiative - graph 2
  • Interestingly, during periods with little to no activations our IS drops off and our average position is generally lower down the SERP. Identifying 3pm as a low activation hour in particular, our bids weren’t boosted as much and in the hour after, our impression share dips and our average position falls

You Got It: Wrap Up

By harnessing the power of the TV Sync capability, we were able to boost our presence and share of voice on that ever-increasingly crucial 2nd screen during key moments for the client. Overall, we saw stronger correlations and results for the competitor initiative, which demonstrates how the importance of the 2nd screen is not to be underestimated in such a competitive marketplace. Our challenge was to boost Paid Search visibility and traffic by way of creating multi-channel moments. Thanks to TV Syncing, I’d say mission accomplished.

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