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How to Create a TV Ad and Launch Your First Campaign

If your brand or company is new to advertising on cross-channel TV, here is how we recommend you make the most important decisions impacting your plan and performance. 

Start With Insights On Your Audience

We suggest starting your plan by looking at where your audience is viewing TV today across the fragmented linear and streaming landscape. We encourage you to start your TV targeting broad and refine as you gain more learnings on which days of week, times of day, creatives, publishers, and programs deliver the strongest performance.

Run an Initial Test Before Committing to a Bigger Budget

As a rule of thumb, reaching 15 million people will enable you to simply determine if TV can work for your brand. According to our analysis, it’s possible to get a Persons 2+ CPM that costs about $3.00. Spending $50,000 on a campaign that targets this audience would reach about 12 million people and deliver over 17 million impressions for an average frequency of 1.4.

If you run an initial test at this $50,000 spend level and see positive results, we recommend increasing spend to $100,000 in a week for a second stage of that test. At this spend level, you may be able to figure out which days of the week, dayparts and creatives — all of which are relatively inexpensive to adjust — are performing best. If you see, for example, that Sundays perform best, try moving more of your budget to that day. Because audience targeting is the most expensive variable, wait to adjust it until you have a read on the less expensive variables.

Your budgeting choice will inform the results you achieve, mainly the extent to which your campaign can deliver a significant signal. The overall test campaign could expose between 6 and 12 million W18- 49, given the $50,000 to $100,000 range. Assuming a conversion rate from TV of 0.1%, you would expect between 6K and 12K incremental sessions. This variation must be larger than the baseline assessment for the measurement time period in order to provide valid signal, which highlights the potential benefit of spending more and therefore reaching more of your target in that initial test. There are statistical tests that can help you practice experimental design such as this. Look to your partners or internal data science team for guidance.

Evaluate If the Test Worked

To assess whether your test worked, you’ll want to be ready to measure TV ad effectiveness before you begin. For example, you should anticipate driving more traffic to your website or more downloads of your app. You also should expect some change in sales and the performance of your search and social campaigns. After the test has run, compare site traffic and sales to your pre-TV state, holding as many other marketing variables as possible constant to isolate the impact of TV. Then, track changes in these metrics over varying time periods to determine when your campaign’s impact has peaked.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon

Once you’re underway, don’t end the test before you’ve spent your full budget. Understand that TV may have a longer attribution window, even if you include a compelling call-to-action in the creative. Also, don’t rely on just one test to determine how you should optimize and scale. We’ll talk about scaling in a separate section, but we recommend making gradual shifts in your approach to understand the impact of campaign changes on performance.

For CTV, we monitor campaigns in real time, so we can optimize bidding strategies as the campaign progresses. We think this is an excellent opportunity for advertisers to test CTV and apply the result to a holistic TV strategy that encompasses both linear and CTV buys.

Be Strategic About Scaling

Again, we recommend a gradual, steady approach to scaling. Advertisers that have scaled on TV spend about $1 million every month (presuming they use only :30 spots) or $500,000 (if they use exclusively :15s). This enables them to reach about 30% of their audience every month, a number that grows to 45-50% when they spend at this level for two consecutive months.

We suggest viewing the scaling exercise as a gradual climb in which you test and learn at every stage. It’s often helpful to hold other marketing investments steady and test only one change at a time. Aim for a minimum of five of these gradual changes as you strive to find the optimal combination of targeting, creative ad mix (e.g., :30s and :15s), and media plan.

Following your initial test of $50,000, consider repeating this phase of the test to see if you can replicate the results. Try doubling the total campaign spend to $100,000.

Make incremental changes in the plan, especially around the inventory you buy. If you see stronger results from a particular network, buy a bit more in a test, but don’t abandon other networks altogether.

As long as you see positive signals and improvements in your testing, keep increasing spend. $1M a month in advertising to get 30% coverage of an audience is a big, healthy number.

Download our Cross-Channel TV Playbook for a more detailed guide on how to unlock audiences on both linear and connected TV.

Want to learn more? Contact us or email us at advertise@simulmedia.com.