TV, Meet Search: Integrating Television & Paid Search For Maximum Results

How much is your offline advertising impacting your paid search campaigns? In addition to digital marketing, many online marketers rely on a variety of offline advertisements to drive awareness for their brand. TV commercials can be a very effective advertising channel for reaching a broad audience, but they lack the accountability and transparency that marketers are accustomed to within the world of paid search. Effectively coordinating your TV commercials with paid search marketing programs could be the key to driving measurable results and overall improvement in your marketing programs across channels.

With consumers increasingly spending time online while watching television, TV spots are more likely now than ever to drive people to search engines. Research shows that what people see on TV directly influences the query terms they use when searching, especially when they are guided by ads. A recent study of pure play eCommerce companies found that TV commercials that aren’t explicitly coordinated with digital marketing influence as much as 10% of paid search purchases, and when marketers coordinate their TV commercials with online marketing programs, television can influence up to 40% of searches for a brand.

Clearly, connecting the dots between these two important channels is a necessary step to getting the best return on your marketing investment. Here are a few simple tips to begin effectively integrating TV commercials and paid search programs.

Tips For TV-Meets-Search Success

Shape your audience. Television advertising allows you to shape how consumers will search for your brand. Giving TV viewers unique identifiers such as vanity URLs or distinctive search terms in advertisements impacts how they will find you on the web. By creating micro-sites around these URLs and search terms, you can then drive searches for terms that consumers wouldn’t otherwise use, making them easy to monitor. As an added bonus, because the searches for your unique terms will align with your micro-site content, you are more likely to rank at the top of the organic results as well.

Understand your cost per acquisition. Using vanity URLs and unique search terms allows you to separate your television-related search campaigns from your standard keyword sets. In doing so, you can now analyze TV driven search traffic independently of other programs and get better insight into how consumers are responding to your ads. Using this data, you can attribute your television related costs and conversions to the combined channel to calculate a true cost per acquisition.

Timing is everything. Unlike search, TV commercials have specific timing associated with them. You should expect your clicks and conversions to increase during and immediately after your ads air on television. In anticipation of these spikes, you need to make sure that you have prepared your paid search programs. Increase your bids for keywords when TV spots air to ensure that your paid search ads are in top position when it counts the most.

Case Study: TV & Search Integration

We worked closely with Education Connection, a free service that matches students with accredited online and campus-based colleges around the country, to integrate TV and paid search effectively. The Education Connection team experimented with different ways to optimize the cross-channel impact of TV commercials on paid search campaigns and came up with some interesting results.

Education Connection primarily uses two marketing methods to drive traffic to its website: television commercials and search. The company’s marketing team runs a variety of different TV commercials, each targeted to slightly different audiences, such as people interested in study from home, or hourly workers looking to earn more with an advanced degree. Each commercial mentions a unique “vanity” URL, such as or, which leads to a corresponding Education Connection micro-site. The related paid search program targets searchers who are broadly interested in educational programs, as well as searchers attempting to find one of the many micro-sites advertised on television.

The Education Connection team has always known that TV commercials drove downstream searches for these vanity terms such as “college in pjs” and “school asap.” However, by optimizing bids to better align paid search ads with television air time, Education Connection was able to drive markedly better performance for these terms than the more general keywords in their campaigns, such as “grants” or “MBA degree.” Aligning paid search campaigns with specific vanity URLs as they aired on commercials helped Education Connection achieve conversion rates that were 12.6% higher for vanity terms than the conversion rate for general terms. Most importantly, the integration of paid search and TV campaigns helped Education Connection understand their traffic patterns driven by television ads and effectively optimize their paid search spend for an overall increase in conversions and significant decrease in CPA.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Industrial Strength


About The Author: was the Vice-President of Marketing at Marin Software, a leading platform for digital advertising management, and held a variety of executive roles at Coremetrics, one of the early innovators in web analytics.

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