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Are You Aware of This Little-Known But Critical Advertising Metric?

We live in a world where data, technology, analysis, measurement, tracking, metrics and profitability have taken center stage. In recent years, there has been an explosion of analytical tools to measure key metrics. Advertisers and their agencies have been using them with great success.


There is one metric, however, that most companies aren’t using and that’s tracking online activity from TV commercials and other offline media. By simply watching 100 TV commercials of all types, it’s easy to conclude that only a handful are even making an attempt to track TV-to-Web activity. With so much response from offline advertising taking place online, it’s a great puzzlement why more advertisers are not tracking offline-to-online.

While the CMO.com audience is comprised online marketing experts, this story is important because many companies that use online tactics also advertise on TV, radio and other offline venues. That’s precisely why the metric I’m discussing is so critical, and savvy CMOs will understand this.

According to a recently released study from the CMO Council and published in CMO.com (http://www.cmo.com/cmo-surveys/cmos-get-back-business-cmo-council-releases-fifth-annual-state-marketing-report?cmpid=TT98), investment in analytics is a highlight of the survey of some 600 CMO Council members. In a world where all the media buzz is centered around Google, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other online media properties, TV continues to have the greatest impact on buying decisions (says 86% of Americans), according to Deloitte’s “State of the Media Democracy, 4th Edition,” released on 2/1/11.

That’s good news for TV advertisers, including those using the Direct Response TV (DRTV) format and brand marketers, especially those who also embrace online tactics in concert with their DRTV campaigns. The survey also indicates that almost 75% of Americans multitask while watching TV.

Over 8 years ago, we started adding URLs to our clients DRTV commercials, just to see how many consumers would go to the website instead of calling in orders. Over time, the percentage increased from near-zero to very high numbers. One of our clients asked us how we could track web orders resulting from specific DRTV spots.

Recognizing that the Internet was here (in 2002) to stay and that measuring online response from offline media would be critical, we developed a technology called iFactz™, and we’ve been using it in 90% of our clients DRTV commercials since then. We’re closing in on 20 million actions that have been tracked through this system.

In an article in Response Magazine (http://D3D.acquirgy.net), I posed the question: “Would You Cancel a Profitable DRTV Infomercial or Spot?”

The answer, of course, is you would not, but since most companies are not tracking online response from TV commercials, they are indeed cancelling profitable spots, in most cases without even knowing it. And as a result, they are losing customers, revenues and profits.

As you can see in the chart below, by simply measuring and tracking accurately, a large percentage of media placements that were initially thought to be unprofitable are actually very profitable.

ifactz Comparison Chart

This chart is actual data taken from one of our campaigns, for a cost-per-lead campaign. Boxes in red came in at or above the allowable of $30. Green boxes were under $30. Notes:

  • By looking only at 800# calls, 90% of these spots are above the allowable and likely would be cancelled.
  • By adding some sort of web activity factor (the next three rows), we see many more green boxes, even though all of these three approaches are flawed.
  • By combining 800# activity with iFactz tracked web activity, we see that 70% of these spots came in at or below the allowable.

Given all this, why aren’t more TV advertisers tracking their offline media? The answer is that the only bulletproof way to do so is to modify the URL, and many brand stewards oppose doing so vehemently. They don’t want to muck up their branded URLs with prefixes, suffixes, slashes or tracking codes.

Our response to that argument is that the URL in a TV spot is like a bridge between the commercial and the web page. The commercial and the web page are branded to the brand stewards’ delight. The URL only stays in the consumers’ mind for the amount of time it takes to type it into the browser. Then they’re at the web page and they’ve forgotten what the URL was. So in effect, nothing is lost.

We’ve found that a prefix URL (i.e. 22.company.com) is more effective than a suffix URL (i.e. company.com/offer/32) for a number of reasons. We even take it one step further by recommending a modified URL for the TV campaign, such as 22.TryProduct.com, which incorporates the brand plus a call to action as well.

Key takeaway: while there are an almost overwhelming number of analytical tools to track everything under the sun, most TV advertisers are not tracking TV-to-Web responses.

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