3 questions every marketer must ask to measure TV performance

Every year, CMOs are being asked to achieve bigger outcomes with smaller marketing budgets. They’re forced to demonstrate a clear return on investment and present high-level results. Under those circumstances, it’s tempting for a CMO to ask an incredibly dangerous question. One that can undermine your TV advertising, marketing strategy, and your entire business.

Here’s the question I hope your team never asks:

What’s the number that tells me if TV is working?

Everyone is looking for the single number answer. It’s easy to act on. It simplifies decision making. And it’s the way TV used to be measured before we had the internet.

So why is a single number so dangerous?

Plenty of analytics providers claim they can assign a single number to TV performance because that’s what CMOs are asking for. But don’t buy it. It’s an incomplete answer that can send you in the wrong direction.

In the classic days of direct response TV, a unique 1-800 number could give you a solid picture of how your TV was performing. Just compare the number of calls to the cost of the media. That cost per call was a single number that could usually tell you if your campaign would be profitable.

But these days, when someone sees your ad, they might call or text if you ask them. Or they may go to your website. Or to Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Amazon. They might talk to their spouse or wait until pay day. No matter what action you ask them to take, they will take their own. That presents a huge opportunity for TV advertisers if you embrace a new model for measuring success.

To effectively analyze TV today, instead of looking for a simple number, ask three crucial questions.


1. When my TV spot airs, what happens in the first 6 minutes? 

This is the first datapoint we identify. When your TV spot airs, it should cause an immediate frenzy of activity that lasts for about six minutes. During that window, identify any immediate lift across your business. The increase in web traffic. The lift in search activity. All of that combined with text or call volume can give you your first performance snapshot.

But that question alone doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell you if the prospect ultimately makes a purchase. It doesn’t account for people who respond later or tell their friends about you. So, you have more questions to ask.


2. What do my customers say at checkout? 

Using a survey to find out how a customer heard about you after they purchase is a valuable datapoint. Assuming you have a large enough sample size. It helps quantify the overall brand lift TV can give you. This often validates a strategy that’s both immediately persuasive and memorable enough to drive long term brand growth.

This question alone isn’t enough either. A survey is prone to human error. You’re relying on memory and asking for an action that doesn’t have an incentive. That’s why you also need to ask the final question.


3. What's TV's overall impact to my bottom-line every month and every year? 

TV is a high impact marketing channel that can elevate your brand to a new level. So, it’s important to routinely look at the big picture when evaluating TV performance. TV has the potential to lift the performance of your other marketing channels and should significantly boost your bottom line.

You can’t simply look at the big picture because you’ll miss opportunities to optimize performance. But asking all three of these questions should set you up for success with television. It’s the approach we take with our most successful advertisers.


Want to learn more about measuring TV?

Listen to VP Analytics Matt Hultgren explain the importance of multiple models when measuring TV's impact on your business.