The first television commercial was introduced to the world in 1941 and it changed advertising forever. It was a great technological feat then as it gave brands the power of an audio-visual medium to speak to their consumers and impact their recall.
India’s TV Market
In India, the first television commercial was introduced in 1978. Several popular brands such as Amul, Bajaj, Rajdoot, Maggi, and Liril hopped on to this medium that provided a huge reach. No strict television campaign measurement tools were introduced till then to ascertain the impact of a television campaign. This was the pre-liberalisation period in India, so there were no private broadcasters, computers were still not introduced and the internet was a distant thing.
Also, television was a luxury that few could afford back then in India and correspondingly the volume of content was also limited. So, people from the family and neighborhood watched the television shows together, which were only aired on Doordarshan (a government channel). The scarcity of viewable content and television sets made the medium extremely aspirational, which itself contributed to its huge popularity and unparalleled reach in the country.
During those days, marketers were sure that their television campaigns would give them a resounding success for the medium’s wide huge reach and the undivided attention of the consumers.
Fast forwarding 30 years, the same is not true. There are over 860+ channels in India spread across geographies and brands make a beeline to advertise on them. As per a GroupM report, television advertising constituted 45% (Rs 27,568 Cr) of the overall index in 2017-18 in India.
Nowadays, ROI from television campaigns is a growing concern among the marketers. The television medium is extremely expensive (even more around Diwali and IPL) and if the sales and brand recall are not in proportion to the expectations from a campaign, a lot of money goes down the drain. Most of the television media plans are decided upon the popular TV audience measurement system, BARC, that provides a holistic performance of the channels across different time slots and age groups (geography wise, gender-wise and SEC wise).
The prime reason for a marketer’s worries is the rapidly changing media consumption patterns and decreasing attention spans of the consumers. People are spending more time on their personal devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablets across age groups and genders.
With the emergence of smartphones and lowering of data tariffs, there is an overflow of content production and exponential rise in content consumption. This has given birth to a new market of OTT players such as Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Netflix, HoiChoi and others.
As per several reports, the time spent on television is nearly double the time spent on digital. The average time spent by adults (18+) on television on a daily basis in 2017 in India was 2 hrs 11 mins, while time spent on digital mediums was 1 hr 13 mins.
After the Ad
In my family, the man of the house is watching the news at the prime time, the kids are engaged on their mobile phones (mostly playing games) and I end up watching a series on Netflix or Amazon Prime or a show on YouTube.
In such a scenario, when the entire family is present in front of the television, it will still be difficult to say whether everyone noticed an ad or not. For this reason, measuring the impact of a television campaign would be even more difficult even though the usual currency would explain the campaign to be a successful one.
It clearly implies that most brands and marketers are never sure as to what happened after the television ad ran. They can only calculate the ROI based on increased sales, new app downloads, inquiries, or social media chatter. However, none of this can clearly be shown to be a direct result of the television ad. A marketer will have to rely on the above-mentioned ROI pointers to reach any probable conclusion.
Tracking: An Option or Necessity?
In this age, when television and digital are overlapping at every step, it is important to track television ads to a spot level and generate data about the user behavior at all times. A spot-by-spot analysis on the impact of the campaign in the market puts a marketer in a better position to make decisions.
There are several proven third-party television tracking tools in the market that help brands analyze the actionable response by a consumer to a particular spot. These tools measure the visit to the platform/app, time spent, conversion rate, heat maps of geographies, users interest in a type of information and others.
It gives a clear picture to which markets are responding to the campaign, what time of the day gets more traffic, is the traffic directly from referrals, what kind of products people are seeking, what is the conversion rate and other important details. It helps the brand to analyze the medial allocation on television in terms of geographies, channel genres, and time slots. It also helps the creative teams to understand the hits and misses of an ad.
The activity generates a lot of data and every marketing team must deep dive into it to ensure that they have the right fodder for their future campaigns.
This may be difficult for a traditional brand as their focus is either on brand building or selling via the physical retail counters (some of them also use e-commerce stores now) but a digital-first brand can definitely measure the action provoked by a television commercial across markets.
Modus Operandi of Tracking
Well doing this is not as easy as it may sound!
First, the tracking agency and the brand must come together and clearly define a baseline – how would the business perform on a particular day if there was no television ad. It helps in setting the right expectations.
Before starting their TV campaign, it’s also very important for the brand to ensure that the app/website is well optimized in terms of managing the increased traffic flow, transactions, downloads, and other semantics. And finally, the customer should be at the center of the creative messaging and the ad should neither confuse them nor direct them somewhere else. The creative should be simple, and yet elicit a direct response in terms of either a visit to the website or an app download.
Once the TV campaign is live, the baseline expectations should be topped with the day-to-day data from the campaign so as to build a clear model. The comparison of the fresh results with the baseline will help the brand to understand the clear impact of television advertising.
All of this seems like running a digital campaign but it helps in creating an effective television campaign and also the opportunity to optimize future TV campaigns based on the learnings.
Every marketer dreams to take his brand to television as it is like a milestone achieved in the evolution of a brand. Be it the IPL or Diwali, brands splurge on television to reach out to their customers. To date, there is no match for the reach and recall that a television campaign provides and it is on the back of these parameters that we are still witnessing a growth in television advertising expenditure.