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TV Ads Drive Brands’ Web Traffic, VAB Says

In another effort to demonstrate that TV advertising works to digitally infatuated marketers, the Video Advertising Bureau released results of a study showing that an increase in TV ad spending results in a corresponding increase in web traffic.

The VAB, which represents the cable networks, cable operators and broadcasting networks, examined 125 brands in six categories using ads with a call to action.

Using data from Nielsen and comScore, the VAB found that 82% of the brands show a direct correlation between TV advertising and web traffic. Of the 85 brands that registered increases in traffic, 87% had raised TV spending.

The relationship was surprisingly direct. On average spending was up 22% and web visitors rose 24%.

Of the 40 brands with drops in web activity, 70% had cut their TV spending. Again, there was a tight relationship. The spending cuts averaged 10% and the number of visitors dropped 9%.

VAB president Sean Cunningham says the results shouldn’t be surprising. The data came from two sources familiar to media buyers.

“We’re being asked to prove the obvious. Prove that television sells more stuff,” Cunningham said. “It’s one thing to have a gut-level feel, It’s another to keep producing escalating proof and that’s what they’re asking.”

Cunningham says the VAB’s research might help shift “the attribution conversation,” and credit TV with having a bigger role in sales than digital advertising.

“I think that the attribution is too often given to last search term entered or last site visited. And here what we’re seeing is that the attribution for materially growing traffic into a major sale channel is as simple as turning your TV spending dollars up a little bit,” he said. “By the way: cautionary tale. If you dial it a little down, you get the inverse results.”

The brands studies were in the restaurant, retail, travel, telecommunications/apps, financial and insurance categories. Those categories accounted for more than $30 billion in TV advertising in 2014.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.