Volume – OK, but what about sales?
So, according to our findings, should marketers avoid advertising in programs with high program-related social media activity? No, this would be a premature conclusion. In an additional study, we investigated the impact of television advertising and program-related social media activity on website traffic and online sales at the websites of advertised retailers. While we found that program-related online chatter before a television advertisement airs resulted in a decrease in traffic to the retailers’ websites, it had a positive impact on online sales. The positive impact on online purchases outweighed the negative effect on online traffic, resulting in an overall net positive effect on online sales. Ad characteristics showed to be relevant in this study as well. In particular, advertisements with a funny mood performed best, while active, informational and sexy advertisements resulted in decreases in subsequent purchases on the retailers’ websites. Also, advertisements that mentioned price had a positive impact on subsequent online purchases.
How marketers can make use of social media activity to enhance the effects of TV advertisement
Marketers should clearly care about social TV. Consumers’ multiscreen activities can be used to attract more viewers, to leverage TV campaigns and to increase sales. This chatter creates free exposure for the brand online, extends the reach of television ad campaigns to the online space, and offers real-time feedback to advertisers on how their ads are being received. To get the most out of social media for TV advertising, consider the following recommendations:
- Develop a social media strategy for TV shows
For television networks and content owners, it is important to have a social media strategy that spurs social TV activity for television programs. Encouraging program-related chatter can increase the total audience size and the fraction of the audience engaged in live viewing. Also, programs with high social TV activity are attractive to advertisers interested in increasing online sales.
- Identify the best programs
Advertisers need to be aware that not every “social show” is good for them. Program-related social media activity in general isn’t a sufficient proxy for the word-of-mouth activity that advertisers can expect. Many programs receive a high volume of program-related chatter at the expense of advertiser-related word-of-mouth, but some programs generate high levels of online conversations that can also benefit their advertisers. Reaching a television audience with advertisements is only part of the game. If advertisers are seeking to reach an even larger audience through social media activity stemming from their television advertisements, they would be well served to identify those programs that are conducive to advertiser-related chatter.
- Adapt media planning and ad design strategies
According to our findings, ads airing early in the break seem to get less attentions because online program WOM increases typically following the first ad. This is relevant to media buying strategies as the first ad slot in a commercial break is considered to be the most coveted ad position by advertisers. However, advertisers can increase online WOM for their brand’s ads that follow the first ad slot by incorporating calls to action, specifically a hashtag or web address, into the ad design. Further, advertisers interested in online brand engagement may want to consider the cast of the targeted programs. Including a celebrity who is also in the show in which the ad airs seems to increase online brand WOM substantially. Longer ads are another driver of WOM, and including prices encourages online sales.
With the share of the marketing budget spent on digital marketing activities growing while the share spent on television shrinks, the death knell for television advertising has sounded many times. The rise of ad-avoidance technologies, including DVR and video-on-demand services, has made it easier for consumers to skip marketing messages. Encouraging social TV is one means by which programs can engage the audience and can aid advertisers. As product placement efforts become more popular, efforts to encourage social TV activity may benefit from increased collaboration between advertisers and programs.