How to Scale on TV: Featuring Real Campaigns, Data & Results

Greg Fitzgerald is a growth marketer with a decade of experience in driving acquisition and revenue for hyper-growth consumer brands such as Blue Apron, Brooklinen, and Mixtiles. He recently joined heads with Simulmedia Live’s host Matt Collins to produce the How To Scale On TV playbook.

This livestream takes a deep-dive into the playbook to teach brands (new and experienced) everything they need to know about scaling on TV, using proven strategies from real campaigns.

We’re including the full livestream transcript below, but here are some of the main topics of the book they addressed in the show:

• How to improve your conversion rate by mastering the ideal ad exposure frequency
• How to determine which type of inventory is right for your brand’s goals
• Case studies of brands that use TV to drive measurable in-store, in-app and online actions
• How to think about TV performance vs. digital advertising
• & so much more!

If you want your own copy of the How To Scale playbook to follow along with the livestream, click this link.

Full Transcript

Introduction

Matt Collins:
Hey everybody. My name is Matt Collins and welcome to Simulmedia Live. I’m so glad you’re joining us. Whether you’re watching on LinkedIn or Zoom, we welcome you to the show. We’ve got some really great content and I’m eager to get into it. As I was putting the show together for today, it occurred to me this maybe just judging by the amount of stuff to cover, maybe one of the meatiest Simulmedia Lives that we’ve ever had. Let me try to frame it up for you though before we begin.

Simulmedia has been in business for 11 plus years now, and we got into business with a stated mission of changing the way the television advertising industry has been doing business dating back to the very first ad, which I looked up and if we are to trust the internet, the first TV ad aired on July 1st for a New York Giants game and it was apparently for Bulova watches. We’ve come a long way since then, but advertising has been done a certain way for many decades and Simulmedia came into existence to change that. I would say the last two years in particular, we have seen a very steady shift in the way that the market is approaching television advertising and more and more in line with some of the core principles that Simulmedia has been advocating for since its inception.

What are those principles? Number one, that advertising and all forms of media must have some notion of performance attached to it. They must have an expectation of delivering results at the CFO or recognized. Number two, that according to really sound academic marketing research, the way to achieve growth is to maximize unique audience reach. It’s a key input to being able to convert audiences. You have to reach audiences, but that raises a conundrum which is the third point, and that is that advertisers increasingly are grappling with audience fragmentation that every year, there seems like there’s a whole new bevy of watching options and we are dealing with all the time more places for viewers to go.

Advertisers need a plan for that. They can’t just advertise on the same core networks that they were advertising on before and more and more and more brands are getting that and really understand that. This has some great content for them, but really this show is for the people especially television advertising space who maybe haven’t gone there yet. Advertisers who have been running a playbook that might be familiar to the practitioners in the ’90s or the odds, and who are curious about how television advertising is being done by this new breed of advertisers who especially have that performance mindset. It comes in conjunction with Simulmedia’s publishing of the second edition of a playbook that we are calling How To Scale On TV.

Cliff, I actually have a image of the, there it is, of the cover of the playbook. We are releasing this live today. If any of you would like a digital copy of this, you can simply raise your hand on LinkedIn or Zoom, and we will make sure to get you one. We’ll just ask you for your details. We are also happy to make a printed version of it. I feel like it’s about 40 pages long or so. It’s a pretty meaty document, but it really dives into how advertisers are scaling customer creation using television advertising, what are the key steps of doing that. I did not write this on my own. I had a lot of help from my guest today Greg Fitzgerald with my co-author.

Greg is a veteran of some direct to consumer brands with names you’ll know: Blue Apron, Brooklinen, Fab.com, and Mixtile, and he has developed his consultancy, Belbrook Media that is really focused among other things on helping brands integrate both online and offline growth channels. I couldn’t think of a better person to co-author this and couldn’t think of a better guest - certainly to talk about it - so Greg thanks for joining us on Simulmedia Live.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Thank you so much for having me.

Matt Collins:
It’s awesome to have you here.

Greg Fitzgerald:
It’s an absolute pleasure.

How are direct-to-consumer brands thinking about TV advertising?

Matt Collins:
Very good to have you here. You talk to a lot of direct to consumer brands. How often is TV advertising coming up?

Greg Fitzgerald:
I would say almost always. It’s almost always at least a thought in the mind. I think TV is seen as when and if we get there and we hope to get there, especially as brands scale beyond the kind of traditional and the workhorse channels things like Facebook and search and things like that. TV is sort of once we’re grown-up, we’ll figure out TV, and we definitely want to get there because they know that it’s a key to, yeah, unmatched scale basically.

Matt Collins:
When they talk to you about television, even if it’s just an aspiration at this point, what are they expecting television advertising to do for them?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think you mentioned in that first point or the first thing that Simulmedia embodies is this idea for performance, every marketing dollar should have some level of performance. At the end of the day, we want to spend on TV in order to grow revenue and grow customer acquisition, that kind of thing, but I think there’s nuance to it because they’re used to saying, “We’re going to spend this much on Facebook and we can tie a direct return on ad spend to that investment, and I want to treat every other channel like that,” but really think what they want with TV is volume. They want reach, they want volume, but how to translate that reach and volume into revenue and comparable return on ad spend is a little bit more of a difficult equation.

The importance of unique audience reach

Matt Collins:
It’s a perfect segue into the core theme of what we’re going to talk about and the playbook that we’ve developed How To Scale On Television Advertising covers a broad spectrum of topics, but like any other media television has a targeting component, a planning component, some notion of execution, some idea of measurement, and then an optimization path, and then wash, rinse, repeat. We’re not going to have time to get into all the detail that there is in this 40-page book, but I want to cover some of the highlights.

I think one of the core inputs… Again, it maybe gets more to the philosophy of what it is that you believe, but one of the core inputs that’s really critical offer advertisers to understand, whether it’s about TV or any other medium is that notion of reach, of unique audience reach. One of the points that we make in this book is that if an advertiser has an incremental dollar to spend in media, the best thing the advertiser can do is drop it into reaching another person, rather than increasing the level of frequency.

We have a chart actually Cliff that we can show that demonstrates this, that shows that when an advertiser goes from the frequency of zero to a frequency of one, meaning they have just advertised that first time, they had that first exposure, you see that the graph really takes off. I guess Greg for you, how often does the question of what’s my optimal frequency come up and in light of what this research says, how would you answer the question?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah. I think it comes up often especially when you’re thinking about here’s my prospecting, getting new people to the site or my product, here’s my retargeting which is basically bringing back prospects and ultimately trying to convert them. A lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about what is my ideal frequency before I should expect a conversion, how should I be changing my messaging on each of those touchpoints. Most often, these conversations happening around Facebook ads prospecting, retargeting, but I want someone to see an ad three times before they convert and I’m going to pack my attribution model out of that.

Whereas I think this data in the chart we showed is actually really striking in the fact of the biggest opportunity, the lowest hanging fruit is just reaching one more new person who’s never heard of you before. Especially these brands that yes, they may even feel like I’m at scale or I am in the process of scaling, there’s still an entire world of people in most cases that are just not even aware that they exist.

Matt Collins:
Yeah.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Rather than going deeper or going focusing on getting from the seventh impression to the eighth impression and hoping that’s the one that finally converts them, spending that money to get in front of new people for the first time who are still the right people and everything, but new.

Matt Collins:
Yeah. I think your point about brands who think they’re already scaling is a really interesting one because what they might actually be doing is scaling a performance outcome, but there is a great big universe of potential clients rather who are not in market at any given time for your product, and chances are you’re not scaling at all with them. Especially if what you’re running is a performance-based campaign with performance creative with a call to action - some sense of urgency, a traditional DR stuff, there’s a very good chance that you are driving at scale with people who are already in market of the analogy that I’m using frequently these days.

It’s like good digging a mine that if you have a mine that’s producing, great, but what’s your strategy for finding the next mine because eventually that mine will run out.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right.

Matt Collins:
DR especially when it’s really humming, it can be a lot like just being right in the middle of the load of the mine, and that you’re cranking out all kinds of worn and everything’s great. If you’re not prospecting, then it’s usually like literally prospecting that eventually the mine will run out.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right. I love that analogy. I’m definitely going to steal that-

Matt Collins:
Yeah, it’s all yours.

Greg Fitzgerald:
… but the other part of that is that to find that new mine, you have to dig a certain amount without hitting anything-

Matt Collins:
That’s right.

Greg Fitzgerald:
… and you have to be willing to invest that upfront cost and making that work, rather than digging deeper where you once hit gold or found it and then keep going there. You might have to say, “Yeah, well we’re going to put some time and effort into finding a new place and not literally get ourselves down a rabbit hole,” or I’m mixing metaphors or anything like that-

Matt Collins:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure.

Greg Fitzgerald:
… but stuck in this place of where basically if you’re only ever looking at that one day performance or that immediate return, we’ve actually done that’s created an acquisition machine that’s really good at finding and converting people who are ready to buy your product within 24 hours of first hearing about you and being on your website, which there are definitely products that are well-suited for that and there’s groups of people who that makes sense for. You can probably get to some level of scale with that, but for anything that’s even a slight amount of consideration, you do have to think beyond that and think about how to find those new people.

Differences between national, local, and addressable TV options

Matt Collins:
Television gives advertisers a lot of different options and actually when we talked about television advertising, we’re really saying a bunch of different things at once, that advertisers have a lot of different options when it comes to TV and whether that’s national or local or addressable. We’ve got a chart here actually that shows this, Cliff, some of these options. By the way, these are all clippings from our How To Scale On TV playbook which if you’d like a copy of, just indicate that on your LinkedIn or Zoom and we’ll make sure we get you a copy. Greg, what are the considerations that advertisers should have in mind as they sift through both of the reach and cost implications of these options?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah. I think this exact graphic is interesting to me and I should also mention that this is an updated version of this playbook that I feel really fortunate to be able to help on, but it was actually one of this playbook that first caught my attention. I got it from someone at the Simulmedia team. That was actually how I first came to meet you guys because I saw this and I was like, “As an acquisition marker, this is so useful and actionable and this is as someone with some amount of experience in TV,” but just having these definitions quick on hand examples, data points to pull from, this is an exact example of something like that that caught my eye, that first version I saw.

I’m glad we got to refine it now, but just this idea of okay, if I’m buying local versus national, well my gut reaction would tell me that’s cheaper, right? Fewer people which yes, maybe absolute dollars, but on a CPM basis, it’s an exorbitant premium to target a specific local market versus a national scale where you’re getting economies of scale. Things like that that to someone who’s been in TV a little while seemed basic I think are really critical points for advertisers to understand, especially as they’re maybe thinking about TV for the first time or thinking about how to scale beyond it or beyond what they’ve done now.

I think things like that local premium, what are the different levels of response rate you can assume in certain markets versus other markets, lift test on a DMA basis if you’re doing holdouts and test markets, things like that. I think what it comes down to is ultimately if your volume, awareness, reach, getting in front of more people who you can ultimately convert, having these things like what is the most efficient way to get to the maximum number of people within your defined market is the most important thing to know.

Matt Collins:
Yeah, that’s right and what we have observed from clients who have tried these various techniques and we didn’t include in here, for example, streaming which is a slightly harder number to get at in part because though the streaming universe and connected televisions is growing in size, the amount of ad supported video on demand content is really limited. One of the useful takeaways from this is that you get a chance to both see relative scale and cost, and that one of the things that people who have tried it, for example, notice right away that addressable not only is in a roughly half the homes of national linear, the cost is sometimes a multiple of 10X the CPM and they’re only two minutes of ad load per hour compared to 16 on national linear.

These are all things that have to be reckoned with because of course, addressable offers as the name suggests is a much finer definition of a target audience. Again, having just some familiarity around these and especially if you’re in digital advertising and you’re accustomed to a one-to-one advertising modality, it’s helpful to understand that just because another medium offers that, doesn’t necessarily mean that the performance and the cost will back out.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right. I think that’s a great point. I think especially on addressable specifically. I think especially for advertisers coming from a digital mindset and saying, “Okay, I’ve had success on these channels. How can I most completely replicate that success on TV as a channel, treating it as okay, can I do TV like a digital channel?” Addressable is usually one of the first things that comes up in that line of thinking because oh, I can basically target individual people like you’re saying, I can target groups of young cookies essentially.

I could tie it back to then who went to my website and saw it everything like that, but I think you need to dig into do I actually care about mechanism of what addressable specifically offers or am I trying to get into something measurable is what I really care about or being able to tie it back confidently to a pre and post TV campaign analysis of website traffic or something like that, which you can do those things with TV bought national linear and a lot of tools Simulmedia has to offer. I think it’s about what is the outcome you want, what do you hope to get from TV. Not about like, I want to buy it specifically this way.

Making sure your conversion machine is ready for TV advertising

Matt Collins:
Right, that’s right. I’m talking with Greg Fitzgerald, founder of Belbrook Media and my co-author, partner-in-crime for the How To Scale On TV playbook which we are publishing today. Greg, you mentioned something a moment ago about an acquisition engine. We’ve also, I think, referred to it as a conversion machine or conversion engine in our book. Explain what that concept is and why brands need to be very mindful of how well that’s functioning before they light up television.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say this is something that’s been a common thread in every full-time in-house world I’ve had and every conversation I have with a consulting client or any brand I’m just even talking to is essentially what is your product, and not just what is the thing you are selling, but what is the entire user experience. Everything from that first visit to the website, to how your pages are laid out, to your email flows, to are you using SMS and push notifications, retargeting the experience that happens to a user after they visit your site, and then even post-purchase, what is the experience that the user seeing both the physical product itself, communications they’re receiving from you.

I see all of that as this conversion engine, which is basically you can throw eyeballs, visitors, just people into this engine or machine, and the machine converts them into revenue for your business. Basically, there is no marketing channel powerful enough to out market a poorly designed machine over a long period of time. Maybe you’ve figured out some growth hack or some specific creative structure template on Facebook or something that allowed you a momentary, oh we got a bunch of new sales from that.

At the end of the day, you’re building a foundation and things like can your website handle site traffic and what is the volume of site traffic, can it provide a good experience, is there service hold up to an influx of demand, things like cart abandonment emails or like the SMS notifications or things like that that I mentioned. That is all part of what improves conversion rate of your website. They’re not separate channels. They’re part of this machine. I think advertisers need to make sure that their machine is tightly running and efficient and is really orchestrated correctly before they do something like throw national TV scale at that machine.

That’s three things, like making sure you’re converting your direct to site traffic well or organic, other paid channels. If you turn your TV campaign on and you are not doing cart abandonment emails, you probably just wasted a good amount of your budget. That’s the kind of stuff to keep in mind.

Prospecting vs. retargeting

Matt Collins:
It seems like a good segue to something that we’ve eluded to a bit in this conversation, and that is the notion of prospecting versus retargeting and using language that especially digital marketers are very familiar with. It occurs to me that brands often times go into, especially a medium like television, and are not quite sure yet how to assess it and they’re not quite sure how to target it. Our guidance and this comes through in the book is that advertisers start with the widest possible target first and then put enough budget into market to get signal, and then refine as they go.

It becomes a learning exercise to figure out what combination of target audience, what combination of creative, program, network, day part is really driving the best performance, but also understand the television while it will drive at volume for you back to a website or back to a mobile application which can be measured is also at the same time prospecting for you. For marketers who might be very comfortable with a Facebook-based paradigm or digital paradigm, Greg you came up in the book with this notion of linking television to a prospecting Facebook budget and actually, Cliff we have a slide here that demonstrates this where we talked about this. Talk a bit about that relationship, TV is to prospecting versus retargeting on Facebook.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right, right, exactly.

Matt Collins:
Really important framework I think for people to have an expectation about what it does.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Definitely, and I think again it goes back to this idea of these channels being managed and treated and measured separately and in silos from one another versus things working together and pipelines into this conversion machine, but a good example is then I think any Facebook advertiser, this is pretty 101 stuff, but it’s worth noting especially when you’re looking at some of these other less directly measurable channels. Something like on Facebook - typical Facebook campaign, like I think the one up there is something like about 75% of the spend might go to prospecting campaigns or your lookalike audiences or broad, just 18 and up women in the US or something like that, or interest-based things like that.

The specific CPA or the return on ad spend for 75% of budget is likely to be much worse efficiency than your target. That is top of funnel, it is getting new people to your site who have never heard about you before and ideally educating them. Then you have a chunk of your budget in a typical Facebook account that’s spent on retargeting, which is basically people that have been to your site or indicated some kind of interest added to cart, initiate a check out. This is to communicate to them, “Hey, we remember you. Maybe it’s an offer, maybe it’s another… Why didn’t you purchase before? Here’s a reason to come back in and purchase now.”

The way you look at a Facebook account or treat how is my Facebook’s spend doing is looking at those things combined together, blended together to say, “This is both my top of funnel and my mid-funnel and lower funnel blended all in one, and ideally that CPA is at or below your CPA target and return on ad spend is what you want it to be.” Most people are managing acquisition spend in that kind of way. You’re already holding pure prospecting to a lower standard or a higher CPA target or a higher allowable CPA than you are retargeting.

I would say do not look at something like TV as a complete one to one comparison to Facebook because one, TV is going to drive traffic to your site that then gets re-targeted by Facebook ads anyway, so some of that’s going to get scooped up into Facebook, which is why it’s important to look at channels working together and what does it do for the overall business. Not just what a TV do versus Facebook, but TV, I mean outside of maybe you could speak a little more to it, but it doesn’t have a immediately available retargeting option the way that something like Facebook does where it re-target all of your site visitors five minutes after they leave your site with a TV ad. We’re not quite there.

There’s things that are approaching that, but for all intents and purposes, TV is a really top of funnel prospecting type channel. I think advertisers would do well to treat it as such and compare it to those things where you’re giving it a little bit more leeway because you know it’s not abut does this drive visit to site and email sign up and add to cart and purchase all within 24 hours, but it’s getting people to the site, and then it’s up to me with my finely tuned conversion machine to the convert it into a revenue.

Matt Collins:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I think that the savviest TV advertisers, the ones that have been doing it for a long time, I really described in my intro that advertisers who hold their TV advertising to some notion of a performance outcome, who understand that in order to do that they need to maximize unique audience reach, and they need a way to maximize unique audience reach that can work with or around audience fragmentation. They all understand that the media that they drive, especially the television part of their plan is designed to drive a volume of customers to some touchpoint and commonly among this group especially it’s an ecommerce touchpoint, whether that’s a website or a mobile application.

Then from there, they’re really counting on the design, the pricing, the availability, load times of the website or the application performance, everything from product photography and presentation, accessibility of reviews, those are all the things that capture a website visitor or a mobile application user and turn them into a customer. That’s the conversion machine. If a television campaign is performing well, it’s going to throw a lot of users into that conversion machine from which you get the option as you point out to retarget on Facebook. Perhaps you might get an email that you can then add into a nurturing engine.

There’s so many things to do that, but I guess my way of also just cautioning those advertisers is to say, “Look, I got to have a customer acquisition cost target. I got to have a customer acquisition target.” Your advice here is, “Okay, well if you’re going to do that, then hold it to the same acquisition pricing range that you would for your Facebook, for your prospecting, but also understand that can drive so many other dividends than just an acquired customer.”

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right. Yeah. That’s totally right. The other thing is make it easier on yourself. Do yourself a favor by improving your site’s conversion rate or setting up a better nurturing flow of emails. Those are things that yield dividends across all channels, organic, paid, everything, bring up your overall site conversion rate. That gives you more room to play with on every CPA, on every dollar you’re spending versus optimizing at the channel level exclusively or even maybe I think in some cases, marketers might throw up their hands and say, “I don’t impact site performance. That’s the engineering team or product manager who’s really hard to deal with and blah, blah, blah. We don’t speak the same language.”

I can test new audiences on Facebook. That’s the lever I have, but it’s so much less significant than some of the things you could do if you’re like what you’re saying all of those things about that on site experience and looking at it with fresh eyes of someone who’s never been there before, what here would make me want to buy this, what here would make me want to convert.

Taming audience fragmentation with a TV media plan you can execute

Matt Collins:
That’s right. We talked a bit about the notion of targeting broadly and then putting enough volume in market to be able to learn from it, so that refinements and targeting can happen. I want to take a couple moment to talk about what effective planning and execution in that environment has to then also entail. Coming back again, so the advertisers who do this very, very well who are using television to drive a significant volume of customers to a website or mobile application for conversion, they are very aware of this two-pronged notion of “I got to maximize unique audience reach and I’ve got to tame audience fragmentation.”

Practically speaking, what does that look like? Well, in our world, it looks like plans that they receive that tend to have a lot of networks on them, a lot more than they would get in following the playbook of say 10 years ago. It’s not uncommon even for advertisers with relatively modest spends of say $50,000 to $100,000 over a single campaign flight to have campaigns that come back with 40, 50, 60 networks, well over a thousand commercials on that plan to run. That’s the kind of plan when you get a plan like that, you know that you’ve got a plan that is set up to be able to tackle the notion that Greg Fitzgerald is watching something that’s different from Matt Collins, who’s different from Cliff Sobel, our guide behind the camera and different from Mary Grace Scully who’s going to be giving us questions here and there.

Having a plan that has that many networks and that many commercials on it is it’s really critical indication that the plan you’re going to put into market is actually one that’s likely to achieve this outcome. Of course alongside of that, you have to have some notion of being able to execute on that plan you’re given. It’s also really important that you have access to tools that allow you to buy this plan that you’ve just been given, and that requires its own magic. It’s buying so much breath across so many networks takes its own lift and software helps out a lot.

I just want to mention that because we’re going to get into something that I hear a lot from advertisers who are thinking about how do they scale performance on television, and they actually begin with the end which is how do I measure this. Before I get into that, I wanted to take a moment to talk about maybe one of the least sexy parts of this, which is how do I know that I’m planning right and then how do I make sure I’m buying what I plan. I take us on that little bit of a detour, but let’s talk about measurement. Measurement is obviously super, super critical and I think it’s important, and we talked a little bit about this is setting expectations for what advertisers should be thinking about when it comes to what they measure.

Talk a bit about the kinds of things that an advertiser should be thinking about as they’re setting up their own expectation for attribution.

Measurement and attribution techniques for your TV advertising

Greg Fitzgerald:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I think especially as you’re looking at your first time on TV or early days on TV, the main thing is okay, we’re gearing up for this, how are we going to measure this? I think it’s important to be measuring it across a number of KPIs. It’s not just did my purchases go up.

Matt Collins:
Right.

Greg Fitzgerald:
That’s a too simplified view and also that’s something and I think we talked about it before, but this idea of you especially when… It’s understandable but when brands are maybe getting on TV for the first time, there’s this like holding your breath in like, “TV goes live Monday and we’re expecting all the buzzers to go off and bells to ring and like Oh, we’re on TV and like all of a sudden, we 10X the business,” but it doesn’t work that way.

You have to look at things like, “Okay, what happened to my overall site traffic pre and post? What happened to my purchases or email sign-ups? What happened to the efficiency of my other campaigns? Did other campaigns get a boost in conversion rate like on digital channels as a result of,” and you might not see this until weeks or months following, but you actually seeded the market a little bit in the places you’re advertising on TV. Everything else maybe works a little better. How do you measure that? App downloads like you said and what’s hard is that this does require a really close look and honesty partnership usually with a team at a place like Simulmedia that would be a team internally here.

Other times, I’ve seen teams externally that just do analytics or data type things, but minute by minute site visits. We can look at them the minutes that a TV commercial aired, how many visitors we are seeing before that, what was the spike as shown in that grass there, and then what were the site visits when we return to the norm, can we attribute that entire lift to the impact of TV. It’s a lot of work, but also again, all it’s doing is arming yourself with more data to see trends in and to see get reads on things, which also I think goes to the thing that you’ve said of having a diversified plan. It’s not about spending the entire $100,000 on AMC and hoping that that hits your goal miraculously.

It’s spread it out, spread it out enough, spend across enough channels to get signal. Half of it won’t even be close to what you want to do. The other half might be closed or do what you want to do, and then you iterate from there.

Detecting statistically significant spikes

Matt Collins:
Let’s talk about what this chart is showing if we can get that back on screen. I want to point out that the components of this that we have flagged in. By the way, this comes from an actual advertiser. We’ve kept their name out of this, but it’s one moment in time from one advertiser’s campaign and what we’re showing in that red spike are website visits that are attributable to a spot that ran on ION at 1617 hours. That’s military time for 4:17 and then what happened 14 minutes after the fact. We’re seeing then therefore a conversion rate of site viewers to actually web traffic. I’m going to break down the components of this chart. What you’re seeing in that, there’s a gray line that runs through the middle and we’re describing that as the dynamic baseline.

What that simply is giving the user of this chart is what does normal look like. In any given day, what does normal look like for my website or for… It could be an individual page on a website. It could be a product page. It could be a mobile application, but the important thing is to establish what normal looks and have it be dynamic so that it reflects the fact that 5 p.m. is different from 2 p.m. If you do that based on history, you’re going to actually get a pretty good idea what normal looks like. There’s a blue bar that runs through this that the dynamic baseline is in the middle of, a little bit on the low end of the middle.

Then the very top of that blue bar describe something called the upper bound, and upper bound of this chart describes some notion of standard deviation above the baseline or mean. We put this here and give advertisers some flexibility about how much of an upper bound they want to put on there. We recommend a single standard deviation, higher above the mean, but the idea here is to say, “Okay, well there’s a dynamic baseline that describes average, but clustered around the average at any given time are going to be a bunch of data points and some of them are going to be higher than the average. Some are going to be lower than the average.

We want to be able to smoke out traffic or events that we believe are statistically significant, that are not likely to have happen randomly, and the upper bound tells you that. Something that falls above the upper bound has a relatively small percentage chance of having happened randomly. When we take then a step back from this chart, what we see is a dynamic baseline, an upper bound and then this big mountain top.

This red mountain that falls right in the middle of a statistically significant spike, and what a marketer or a data scientist should conclude from this chart is anything that falls in that shaded area of red is statistically very unlikely to have happened absent this commercial running on ION at 4:17 and then in the 14 minutes, like that happened, and that happened after that. Essentially, everything that’s shaded underneath that chart, underneath that red mountaintop counts as attributable lift to that one spot. Now if we fast forward or zoom all the way to the right, we can see there are other little spikes in this.

We picked out one that’s one of the highest, but because the top of that spike all the way to the right doesn’t fall above the upper bound, we would say that’s statistically insignificant. Now there are some vendors who would say, “Hey anything above the mean, we’re taking credit for,” but we think that that’s actually probably an overly generous approach to just sharing. One of the things obviously that comes up a lot is different digital advertisers, they’ve got some different tools and they’re arsenal for measuring this. Is this concept something that’s pretty easy to digest for once they’ve gotten exposed to, can they get it?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah. I think so. I think it’s best if you look at a chart like that and obviously, it’s a great example which is why we chose it. Not everything is so clear cut, but seeing that I think anyone can say yes, of course, that makes sense. Like 4:16, a commercial aired, we saw a spike like that obviously. Then beginning there and saying, “Okay, I believe yes, TV has an impact. Obviously it does.” You start with that and then it becomes how do we actually just figure out the magnitude of that impact and look at things through a number of different ways.

It’s maybe going down a little bit of a digression, but you even things like we’ve talked about previously as simple as opposed to purchase attribution survey can being a nice additional data point to compliment something like that, something very data-driven where there’s literally entire regression models built around your divergence from the mean and from what’s standard deviation and just say, “Where did you hear about us?” Ten percent of my customer said they heard about us on TV, and then you look at the relationship between those two different numbers, probably are going to come out to a different CPA, depending on the way you’re looking at it, but something about the relationship between those two numbers and how it changes over time indicates something about your performance on TV and the way you’re buying and the strategy.

Matt Collins:
Right on. We’ve got three more case studies about three case studies, we’re going to get into shortly, but I want to just remind everybody that if you have a question about how to scale on television and you’d like to ask someone who has done it before, this is a great time to ask. Just raise your hand in either Zoom or LinkedIn and I’m guessing we have one Mary Grace.

Determining right response window for lift attribution

Mary Grace Scully:
Yeah. While we’re on the topic of attribution and spike windows, Lia asks, “How do you figure out the right response window for lift attribution?”

Greg Fitzgerald:
Good question. I think if memory serves correctly, I believe there is some standard. I think there’s maybe like a 15-minute standard or something like that that I’ve looked at previously, but I also think it does vary somewhat. There’s usually some amount of looking at a chart like that, if we do that with every spot you’re airing, you can typically see where it goes back into that one standard deviation up and down. You would say, “Okay, what is the average amount of time it takes to regress to that and that’s probably around when I can stop some counting that impact.”

Matt Collins:
Yeah. It’s a great question Lia and thank you for asking it. I think a couple of things that I would add to Greg’s observations that every campaign will vary to some extent. Rather than necessarily looking for an industry benchmark, I would be set on developing one for your own, which will capture the net impact not of just your media strategy, but also your creative strategy. The chart that we’ve prepared here based on an actual campaign, in this case, it happened to be that it took 14 minutes before the website traffic returned back to the baseline. For the purposes of this advertiser’s attribution, they attributed all of that part in red to the effect of the TV campaign.

Now I’ll say a couple things. If I were in charge of television measuring this way, what I would want to do to determine well how long does that spike effect lasts for my brand is just get enough of these spikes, and then just do a simple average. Now you may want to vary that average based on whether it’s a 15-second commercial, which may be has less of an enduring impact that a 30, but accumulating enough of those over time will allow you to develop Lia your own standard for what TV’s impact is given all the other factors that we described.

Second thing that I would mention is that one of the things that we believe would happen overtime if enough of this activity were to occur and you were to see enough statistically significant spikes, that dynamic baseline overtime will increase. This speaks to the long-term effects of television advertising that great media strategists will tell you that the one of the most important things you can do is just stay regular. Be in front of your potential customers as often as or as regularly as you can. Obviously, you want to over frequency them with an ad, but the notion of hey, I want my customers to see one ad for me once a week and just always make sure I’m with them once a week.

If you do that with compelling creative and you’re reaching them where they are, our experience tells us that dynamic baseline is going to pick up over time, and that’s where you’ll start to see the long term effects of effective advertising media. Lia, thank you very much for your question. If you have any others, pop up, just let us know.

Case studies in scaling

Matt Collins:
I want to get now into a few case studies. We promised that we would actually talk about real results and we’ve got the first one. Cliff, why don’t we put this up? The first case study that we’re showing is an advertiser that offers credit score monitoring, and they had been using heavily DR media, direct response which we talk about is a media option in the playbook.

Direct response is attractive or has been attractive for marketers and for networks because it’s preemptible on both sides. The network can say, “Ah, I found someone who’s willing to pay more for that inventory so I’m taking it from you Mr. Advertiser,” and the advertiser can say, “Actually we ran a spot on that commercial time a week ago and it didn’t do very well at all, so I don’t want to do that again,” but the optionality runs on both sides. This advertiser has been using DR, but felt like they were not achieving the reach that they needed and also we’re not building up the brand awareness that they needed in order to fortify their future customer growth.

They follow the playbook that we’ve put together here to a tee where they went to the market, move quickly to put enough volume in the market to get a signal, determine where their best combination of creative target audience, et cetera were to be found, and what we were able to do with them overtime is see a very steady and very measurable decrease in the cost of driving the site visitors and in this case, sign-ups back to this credit scoring service, and a lot more volume of customers. I’m curious when you talk to advertisers, what do you say about the importance of not having a set it and forget it about television? I imagine some people may think that’s just what they have to do, but like how important is it for optimization to be a part of their plans?

Greg Fitzgerald:
I mean it’s obviously critical. It’s interesting because most of the brands I’m talking about - especially if you’re looking at TV maybe for the first time - I don’t think many people are in there with a very laid-back, ‘I’m going to let it run and just see what happens’ approach.

Matt Collins:
Sure.

Greg Fitzgerald:
It’s usually maybe almost the opposite of the spectrum of like can we optimize on a daily basis, and that’s one of the reasons that DR is attractive is that you can say week-to-week or in some cases, maybe you call it on a Monday that the spots plan for Friday aren’t going to be working, so you’ll pull that spend. I think there’s a happy medium. Set it and forget it definitely not. I actually would be really curious and I don’t know if anyone has examples or if you guys do, I would love maybe in the future one, what is the result of a set it and forget it approach if someone’s willing to just run that test for us. I would be really, really interested to see how set-it-and-forget-it compares against an actively.

It’s almost like investing, like set-it-and-forget-it versus an actively managed portfolio. In those cases, I think actively managed always almost loses just like leaving it in the market for as long as you can, but that’s not the case in TV. I think you absolutely need to be on a regular basis. I would say snot day today, not probably even week-to-week. Maybe bi-weekly, probably something like monthly, how did last month look, what were my bottom 30% of shows and networks and placements, what were my top 70% or top 30% that I want to double down on her or find similarities to what worked about those that I think can work elsewhere. I think brands looking for performance and looking for scale are used to testing methodology. I think it’s just applying that type of rigor here.

Matt Collins:
Yeah. I think that’s right. We’ve seen some of the same itchiness and eagerness over optimize, like can we do it a couple days and then our prescription is, and we talked about this in the book, for the first month let it run. Just let it run because you’re learning, you’re listening at that moment. Then after you get enough signal, optimizing every other week is perfectly reasonable and a good way of being able to continue to build on the things you’ve learned and get better and better and better over time. Generally speaking, I just go to the who are the smartest advertisers in our portfolio. They’re the ones that let it run for the first four weeks, and then they optimize every other week. In our universe at Simulmedia, that’s what great looks like.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt Collins:
All right. I want to move to second case study, and this case study involves an over-the-counter cold and flu remedy that had been buying heavily in another type of way that we haven’t really talked about before this, and that’s in the upfronts. Upfronts are a buying season where as the name suggests, the advertisers and their agencies acquire the rights to advertising inventory upfront or in advance of when the show airs. In this case, oftentimes the upfronts happen in the spring and they affect programming that will run in the fall. We’re talking like four and five months of buying in advance.

Why do they do it? Well, the pricing is favorable and since television advertising is supply-constrained, it always sells out. Advertisers have every reason to want to get the best pricing. Now if you’re a cold and flu remedy provider, why might that be challenging? Well, you never know when the flu season, when it’s going to hit or when people going to be suffering from colds at the most. If you’ve bought in the upfront, you get pricing relief, but you don’t have timing flexibility. In this case, the advertiser had been running at times their product when people weren’t wanting to go buy their product. They needed flexibility.

They needed to be able to buy on their terms, and we’re showing the results of what came of that. How often does it come up now in the conversations you’re having Greg that flexibility is an attribute or is something that’s rising up in the consideration when people are thinking about or talking about television advertising or any form of media?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah. I think the idea of booking media six months in advance that I don’t even really know how it might perform or literally if my business will exist in six months. In some cases, that’s actually maybe the case. It’s just that’s an impossibility and I know that’s somewhat a bias of most of the companies like the companies I have been at and I’m continuing to work with are less about the existing at six months, but more about we’re not even close to being able to make that kind of commitment. It depends on so many things between now and then, how revenue grows, how other channels perform, how hiring looks, what happens in the broad market, things like that, product launches that may or may not get pushed out, things like that.

I think the flexibility is critical for these companies that come with a baked-in expectation of being nimble and jumping on opportunities as they arise, and I think that is part of why DR appeals to so many of them as a way in. I think maybe as companies grow up and they evolve like upfronts, I remember in a couple of prior roles going up, for example, like podcast upfronts like that became more of a thing. Once you’re making a big enough investment, it may actually make sense. Okay, if I could get a 20% discount by booking six months in advance, I know we’re going to do some amount of it, so let’s lock it in now. If you’re just starting out, you aren’t yet comfortable enough to do that.

Yeah, the flexibility piece is critical both for like what position will my business be in and will we be ready for it, and also for things like this where maybe people just aren’t ready to buy in the moment that you had now committed to, and there’s little you can do.

Matt Collins:
Yeah. That point was nothing more frustrating than the fact that you’ve just made the biggest, flashiest marketing that you can do at a time when people are frankly aren’t interested.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right.

Matt Collins:
That’s like nightmare scenario for an advertiser. We’ve got one last case study and Cliff if you can show that anytime you’re ready. Speaking of younger brands or the variety that you work with, we worked with a younger direct consumer brand that had a mobile play and there was a mobile app they were trying to get downloads off and to drive a mobile commerce outcome through that application. This advertiser had been working very heavily in the world of direct response advertising for all the reasons we talked about why DR is exciting.

However, among the problems they had with that approach was that they felt like a bit of flying blind and they felt like the results that they were getting back from the vendor that was helping them with this didn’t match their sense of what good performance or not look like. The vendor was saying, “Hey, these are great,” and the advertisers would say, “Why?” “Well, because it’s better than our average.” If you’re an advertiser and you have a specific cost threshold, the fact that your cost per customer acquisition or cost for site visit or app download is somewhere on the top half, top 50% of an agency’s client list is a little consolation to you because the economics maybe horrible.

They may look good to the agency, but lousy to the advertiser. They went to a non-DR approach to get guaranteed access inventory with very little investment $50,000 in flight one and $80,000 in flight two. They were able to first learn that $50,000 is a learning exercise. It did perform pretty well, but the second flight built in that learnings and drove down the cost per installs by 41% and increased mobile commerce revenue by 67%. I guess my question to you as someone who knows the good sides of DR you mentioned it before, but what are the things to be careful of if you’re an advertiser who’s sniffing around direct response?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah, definitely. I think some of the weaknesses we’ve covered already and just the ability to be preempted on that spend, especially if you’re counting on TV or it is a seasonally important time or you’re launching a new product or something like that and you need to spend $100,000 on TV this month, I know that’s not that much. For a brand that’s first starting out, if you’re all in on DR, you might have a flex of us not ever really plus, but negative 20%. You might only clear 80 of the $100,000 you were hoping to spend which could have a material impact on your bottom line.

It’s probably going to throw off a bunch of your planning models, things like that and you’re in this game of always playing catch-up, never really knowing how much you can count on that’s going to clear when you’re buying through DR, always doing these true ups. In a previous role, I was managing a lot of DR TV and there was a week following a true up that was okay, here’s what actually cleared and then like a quarter later would be like the actual true up based on what really, really cleared and then everything changes again. It’s like decisions are being made off of what’s clear or not clear, but then it’s not even really finalized until months later sometimes. That’s definitely a big downside.

I think the other thing, it’s a little more qualitative, but I think the partners who might be helping you buy DR, who specialize in DR more are specialized in a different aspect of the calculation or equation. To your point of actually understanding what is the business outcome that the advertiser wants and partnering in a way that it’s not about just like, “Hey, you beat our standard or most advertiser see this and you saw that, therefore it’s better.” A partner who will actually take the time to understand your unique business, what are your unit economics, what is the CPA threshold you need to clear to be profitable, what is the overall health of the business, how to craft a plan that meets those needs.

That’s not just like how much do you want to spend, when do you need it spent by, yes, let’s go. A more integrated thought partner and actually making recommendations and maybe saying, “This isn’t the right way to allocate here. Here’s how you should allocate it based on your unique needs.” I think you’re more likely to get that with an agency or a partner who’s doing things a little bit differently than just like a peer, like yes, we specialize in performance direct response advertising TV ad.

Matt Collins:
Yeah. Your point about what clears and what doesn’t is a really good one, and it brings me back to something we talked about that conversion machine that so many of these models that have media as an input, the output is I’m getting a certain number of impressions and based on my anticipated conversion rate, I expect those depressions to turn into so much web traffic or so many app downloads. At certain levels, that actually starts to impact I would think and I’m not a product person or an IT person, but I’ve actually think that expectations of web traffic and how much volume you’re paid activities will generate could have an impact on things like your Amazon web services cost because you’re now thinking about how much access do I need to buy for my website or for my application to run.

If you’re making assumptions about how much I’m going to pay AWS or Azure for Microsoft or whatever service the advertiser’s using, and you’re predicating it on what paid channels are going to deliver, and suddenly you’re off by 20%, 30% because it didn’t clear, those decisions and those outcomes start to spiral at other parts of the business that can make life uncomfortable for your colleagues in ways that are not obvious right away. One of the things that we talk about is a benefit for non-DR inventory is you get certainty.

You know it’s going to run, and so now there are lots of things in your model that you’re going to want to be looking at and revising and optimizing overtime, but one of the things you don’t have to worry about it is this money even going to get spent, is that spot even going to air, which is really, really critical. We have reached the end of our prepared remarks on the playbook. Again, if you’d like to, I’ve got an image of the playbook up. Cliff you can show one more time. If you like your own version of the How To Scale On TV playbook, there it is. Just drop us a line and we’ll be happy to email you your own copy of it. Just raise your hand in Zoom or in LinkedIn.

We can also get you a printed copy if that’s your preference. With that, I’m guessing that other questions have come in, so why don’t we jump in?

Q&A

Mary Grace Scully:
Sure. Stephanie has a question about direct consumer brands like the ones we were just talking about. Stephanie says, “As a small, independent TV network, do you have any suggestions on how we can navigate or entice direct to consumer and challenger brands to partner with us?”

Greg Fitzgerald:
That’s a great question. Thank you Stephanie. I think that’s really interesting and exciting. I think of it is a lot of successful partnerships with comparable entities I guess I would say is examples of like online publishers that maybe you do a partnership on a content series or reviews or sponsored content basically, maybe an affiliate model, something like that. If you’re an independent TV network, I don’t know the specifics of how, for example, you guys go about selling your ad space, if it’s done out to a broad network and then it gets bought up and placed that way or you do some direct buys, things like that.

I would imagine if you’re looking to get direct buys, I think you probably have to wrap in things that are going to be added value that might be in some of your programming on the network or some special higher touch way that this brand can get their message out. Maybe it’s integrations into the content of the show. I know that’s done pretty often. I will tell you like any performance or direct to consumer-oriented brand, if you guys are willing to expose skin in the game, they will 100% go for that. If there’s anything of like, “Oh, we’ll get a cut of every order we refer or something,” I know that can get a little wonky how to track it properly as we’ve all talked about, but that is something that will resonate a lot with the direct to consumer brand.

“Oh, you only make money if I make money.” “Great, all in on that,” limits my risk and incentivizes you as a network to get that message out there in a way that will convert to sales, which is ultimately what they want to do. I would say leverage the fact that you are small, independent, that you probably have a unique programming set, that you have a unique perspective, align it with the brand that maybe you’re looking to target and figure out what those commonalities are. Just look to those other examples like I said of what are premium online publishers doing in their content partnerships or their title sponsors.

Even things like podcasts and things like that that have title sponsors, what are those approaches and those strategies that seemed to work well and resonate, not only with the brands that are advertising, but the actual audience, the listeners and viewers and things like that, and look to see what inspiration you could take from those successful examples.

Matt Collins:
I think Stephanie that obviously Greg’s insight and having worked at and consulted with many brands that are probably on your consideration set, that what I would just add on top of it is that the people control the media first strings at a lot of these companies have a fundamentally different orientation than the more save traditional, familiar advertisers. We think of consumer packaged goods, automotive, financial services. This group I would say is protective of their media dollars. Meaning that they have every expectation that the media money they put into market is going to perform. If that’s your outcome, if the output of this is some notion of performance, then what are the inputs worth knowing?

I think the more that you as a network executive can tie those inputs to the outputs that matter, things like who’s my audience, what insight do I have about my audience that’s watching my programming, that will be uniquely tailored to a particular direct to consumer brand? That’s gold because the advertiser doesn’t have access to that information. Only you would, but the important thing is in framing it and my sense is that I think there is still some vanity, a bit of vanity on being on television. We’ve talked about it as being the adult table for media. If you think back to Thanksgiving, there’s the kids table and the adult table, and the television is the adult table.

It’s a signal that you’ve arrived, and inevitably, there’s going to be some vanity that goes with that. Of course, the acquisition or the growth team will want to see the ad. It’s a big moment when you all gather on the television and go, “Oh, there’s our commercial. It’s awesome,” but at the end of the day, we’re all in it to perform.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Right.

Matt Collins:
The more you as an executive can make it easier for that advertiser to see how performance will follow, I think the more likely it is you’re going to have great conversations.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Collins:
Thank you Stephanie. Any other questions?

Mary Grace Scully:
We had one from John and he’s asking for advice on when he should look into doing national TV. As of now, his brand is on Facebook, Instagram and in local and large markets. I was going to suggest he could look at our playbook because we have a whole section on that, but if you guys wanted to shed light on at what point.

Greg Fitzgerald:
I think you have a good take on that.

Matt Collins:
Yeah. I mean generally speaking, we do touch up on this on the playbook that as Greg mentioned, the cost of doing local varies, but generally speaking is higher because the supply of audience in that local market is lower than it is nationally. Our advice generally speaking to advertisers that have started locally is first of all, there are some great things you can learn about local and if you can start to get some signal about what creative is working and with which audience types, that’s useful input that will help to… If to borrow a phrase that we’re using increasingly at Simulmedia, pre-optimize your campaign, right?

You’re getting inputs that allow you to actually start optimizing before you run even, and that’s one way of looking at it. However, there does come a point where if you are distributed and I forget the exact language, but if you’re distributed in like more than two of the biggest national markets, if you’re in LA and Houston and then are in 10 or smaller markets, you’re better off just going national. I know that it means that you’re going to be putting your ad in front of people who can’t get in their car and go buy your product or maybe their regulation is preventing you from doing ecommerce with a particular customer in that other geography, but the cost advantage to going national overwhelms the availability issue.

We spell out in the playbook very clearly how should an advertiser think about when to go from local to national, and my takeaway from having done the research and talked to the people here who are experts on this, it happens in a much lower geographical threshold than I would have imagined. John, that’s a very good question. I think we are pretty much exhausted with questions. I’m going to finish with a couple things. Greg, first of all, how can people get in touch with you?

Greg Fitzgerald:
Thank you for asking. Greg Fitzgerald, once again my growth marketing consultancy is called Belbrook Media specializing and working with brands who are looking to grow, usually through paid marketing, all kinds of growth channels, on site optimization, this inversion machine we’ve talked about, even recruiting and hiring for in-house marketing roles. Greg@belbrookmedia.com. I’m also on Twitter @gregmfitz. No promises of quality there, but I do have to plug it.

Matt Collins:
Awesome. Well, look, I’ve so enjoyed working with you Greg on this and bringing your expertise in. You’ve captured so many valuable insights that are not only useful to the younger brands, but also as we talked about in the beginning, brands that have been doing television advertising for a long time but are looking now to put a fresh set of eyes on their strategies and wondering, “Hey, do great TV advertiser’s doing? What do advertisers that want to grow, want to reach as many people as possible tame the whole audience fragmentation problem? What does it look like?” You really did a bang-up job of helping us see that, so thank you very much for your collaboration.

Greg Fitzgerald:
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.

Matt Collins:
If you’d like a copy of this book, just let us know, drop us a line and we will make sure to get you a copy, and that’s going to do it for this episode.