Attributing TV’s Impact on Auto Purchases
09 October 2017 • tvsquared
Meg Coyle,
Content Director

The auto industry realizes TV’s value when it comes to brand awareness – its U.S. TV ad spend accounted for $6 billion last year. In fact, the IAB found broadcast TV to be the top media channel for influencing car and truck purchases. But what is less known is the critical role TV plays in driving search and promoting dealership visits. What makes these response points so important?


The Journey Starts Online

Multiple studies show that search is the first step of the customer journey. Almost 83% of purchasers research cars online, and 90% use dealer or OEM websites in the early stages of decision-making. The research/information-gathering phase of the buy is made online. So, what does this have to do with TV advertising?

TV is a primary driver of search.

Close to 90% of all viewers have a second-screen device in-hand or nearby when watching TV. They are active-participation viewers – when interested, they immediately engage online. Efficient Frontier found that TV ads drive branded search activity by as much as 80% (a finding confirmed from TVSquared’s own customers). Another study showed that 75% of incremental searches took place within two minutes of brands’ TV spots airing. Not only are viewers responding to TV through searches, but they’re doing so immediately after spots air.

TV Powers the Dealer

As the customer journey goes on, consumers look locally to visit dealerships and take test drives. In fact, more than 80% of customers take test drives during the car-buying process. Insights into Advertising estimates that 33.9% of local auto advertising is devoted to over-the-air TV. For auto advertisers, TV is also used for dealership discovery. But what truly drives local is, you guessed it, search.

TV provides brand awareness -> TV promotes search-> Search drives local

TVSquared works with some of the world’s most well-known auto brands to optimize TV campaigns to drive the right kind of response. Our customers improve TV effectiveness by up to 80%. One brand increased TV-driven search and site visits by 300%, all while reducing cost-per-response by 90%. So, how did they do it? While all companies are different (with varying goals for what they want to get from TV), here are some ways they reached TV success:

  • They use dynamic baselines: Static baselines lead to inaccurate results and costly errors. Baselines are inherently dynamic. Our auto clients leverage minute-by-minute baselines from same-day measurements to see how TV campaigns are performing in near-real-time.
  • They measure performance: Our auto customers have ditched ratings data to gauge TV campaign performance. It’s inaccurate, not timely and doesn’t tell them anything about performance. Instead, they analyze same-day spot and response data to see how every spot drives response – whether it’s search, site traffic, app activity, phone/SMS or even in-dealership foot traffic.
  • They buy based on response: Instead of buying TV to reach an untargeted, mass audience, they design TV strategy around attributable response – the actions generated. Since performance-based analysis is readily available, our auto brands know the buys that will not only reach desired audiences, but also in the places/times they are most likely to response.
  • They are always optimizing: Using same-day spot performance analysis, the auto brands readily and continuously optimize their campaigns – even ones still on air – for maximum response. It’s great to have the measurement insights, but they take it a step further and use that information to better in-flight and future performance.


To learn more about how TVSquared can help make TV work harder and smarter for your brand, visit or contact to set up a demo.