Using New TV Ad Formats to Drive Search
06 November 2018 • tvsquared
Hew Bruce-Gardyne,
Co-Founder

This article originally ran in Digital TV Europe on Oct. 26, 2018.

The TV ecosystem is a very powerful one. A “traditional” platform that attracts mass audiences, TV has evolved to complement marketers’ digital strategies, becoming a major driver of online response.

TV’s power to drive search, for instance, is unlike any other medium. Close to 80% of viewers use second-screen devices while watching TV, leading to huge spikes in search activity for brands in the minutes following their spot. Due to this synergy, marketers are increasingly synchronizing TV and paid search campaigns to gain top rankings in the valuable minutes after a spot airs – when audience engagement is high and intent-to-buy is strong. In fact, a major diet brand and a global auto manufacturer saw a 19% and 43% uplift in engagement, respectively, by taking advantage of the connected ecosystem between TV and search.

With a rise in new ad formats, how can TV’s increasingly creative approaches to the standard 30-second ads help marketers reach the holy grail of search response?

Searching for response

Networks are always looking for ways to create more ad inventory, and advertisers are exploring new opportunities to get in front of viewers that consume media in increasingly fragmented ways. Enter six-second ads, which are shaking up live-event advertising. And sponsorship arrangements are seeing new light, just look at Superdrug’s deal with ITV’s Love Island.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the opportunities for marketers and how they may or may not promote search:

  • Six-second ads: These “mini-ads” debuted during the 2017 Fox Teen Choice Awards, with the hope of targeting a younger audience more receptive to shorter, digital-like ads. Similar to the five-second, end-cap sponsorships that are popular in the UK, these ads are power-packed, offering a non-intrusive way to communicate with large, engaged audiences (there’s no opportunity to leave the room or skip ahead!) Well-established advertisers are gravitating toward shorter ads, as they look for cost-effective means of growing reach. That being said, these shorter formats are not ideal for brands wanting to sell a story or lifestyle, as there’s no time to communicate. But a 6-second ad can be used as a powerful call-to-action tool alongside a standard-length ad campaign.
  • Long-form ads: Shortened TV ads aren’t the only strategy gaining traction – lengthening them is proving to be effective too. Long-form ads take a creative approach to storytelling allowing brands to create awareness via short, film-like pieces. For example, Samsung broadcast a three-minute ad that focused solely on a hypnotic washing machine cycle, and response to the John Lewis Partnership’s Bohemian Rhapsody Bohemian Rhapsody continued for a full hour after the first airingThe storytelling element helps to initiate response activity meaning the audience is more likely to search for further information or a way to interact digitally with the brand. 
  • Sponsorships: Programs like The Great British Bake Off, Love Island and The X Factor are leading examples of programs attracting brand investment through sponsorship. Viewers of sponsored shows are twice as likely to recommend featured brands as non-viewers. For Love Island, Superdrug saw a 900% rise in searches last year as a result of its sponsorship. Meanwhile, The Great British Bake Off introduced super spots, giving marketers the flexibility to approach viewers creatively. Sponsorships elevate brand recall when paired with a prolonged TV series, but also increase the opportunities to invoke a response action. Love Island paired with fashion sponsor Missguided – who used its sponsorship slots to demonstrate how to purchase the contestant’s outfits via its app, another step in the customer journey which complements search.
  • Live TV: Providing a unique opportunity to create a direct, real-time connection with viewers, the raw and unpolished nature of live campaigns help to maintain viewer attention and increase social media activity. Increasingly, the film industry is also leveraging these spots. To promote The Greatest Showman, the cast performed live during a FOX ad break to drive excitement around the movie and encourage viewers into cinemas. Social activity is the key here, with links and particularly hashtags driving search activity among viewers. 

Switching up the format

TV is a powerful tool for marketers, with the average UK adult watching almost four hours a day. But the dynamics of traditional advertising have shifted, and marketers must keep pace to capitalize on the power of “traditional” media (TV) and response platforms (digital).

It’s about understanding the ad formats available and how to use them to drive response, and then considering what is most effective for your campaign. This will vary by brand, by campaign and even in-flight during a campaign – depending on set KPIs.

It’s important to note that alternatives to “standard” 30-second spots are still in their infancy. While we tend to think things change quickly, in reality, that’s not how it works. We will, however, see more brands gravitate toward six-second ads and other innovative formats in the coming years as they adopt complementary media strategies that utilize TV and search.