Fight Inventory Bloat By Using New TV Advertising Attribution Techniques

More rapid ad attribution is now possible because TV leaves a digital footprint based on how we now watch TV with tablets and smartphones


It’s a reality of retail that at some point in the year, every seller will have outdated or slow-moving product. For auto dealers, that inventory bloat can be especially painful.

Although we know from experience that television advertising is one of the most effective ways to move cars from dealerships, it’s paramount to be able to test price-offer discounts quickly. But in doing so, does the creative communicating these offers really matter?

Unquestionably, yes.

Research shows that 70% of television’s advertising effectiveness come from creative, not media placement. From our analysis, when clients run the same offer, but positioned slightly differently, we commonly see performance differences of 200% to 250%.

But can you test TV creative quickly?

Traditionally, creative testing would take weeks or months—and that doesn’t cut it in the real world of dealerships. But today, TV attribution, when tied into digital outcomes, has greatly accelerated this process.

Yes, the days of a TV sales rep showing up monthly with the same old GRP metrics they’ve used for 30 years are over.

The nuts and bolts of TV attribution in 2018 have gotten a lot easier. If you use Google Analytics, you need to sign in, then click the button that allows API access to your account.

This type of attribution is possible because of the fact that TV leaves a digital footprint based on how we now watch TV with either tablets or smartphones in hand.

Today, when price-offer discounts are pushed on TV ads, consumers will likely visit that website to read the fine print, which looks like an encyclopedia on the TV commercial, because it is only required to be on screen for four seconds.

Consequently, a digital footprint is left from that search web visit that was stimulated by the TV price offer. As a result, TV advertising becomes more measurable than ever before.

It’s all about the combination of BOS: Brand search (paid), Organic search (to your home page), and SEO to site pages other than your home page.

When that TV price-offer ad runs, those BOS signals spike very quickly, and that spike activity is the mathematical signal joined from TV post logs, which determine performance of the network, time, day, cost versus result, and, most importantly, creative performance. Sophisticated attribution vendors are then able to report back to you about which creative moved the needle.

On a Tier 2 level, you need to have five to six different price-offer creatives running. By positioning the same offer slightly differently, you can see a two to three time lift.

Results can be read in a week or less, then your creative mix is changed, yielding more performance for the same TV media dollar.

We all want advanced TV measurement like this to be rolled out nationally, and Comcast, Spectrum, Sinclair, and others are working hard to catch up to the demand.


But in the interim, you can be out there now with your dealership’s TV advertising, improving your creative performance, and tackling inventory bloat with offers and creative that you know will move the needle.

As the co-founder and chief executive officer of C3 Metrics, Mark Hughes brings a wealth of creative and quantitative experience in consumer marketing from PepsiCo, Pep Boys, and eBay. Hughes grew Half.com from zero to 8 million customers as its VP of marketing, and has spent over $100 million in online and TV ad dollars, planting the seeds for creation of C3 Metrics’ Attribution Data Cloud. Hughes is the son of a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, and his own book, Buzzmarketing (Penguin/Portfolio), is published in 15 languages.

Mark Hughes

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