TV ads and search spikes: Toward a deeper understanding

Rex Y. Du, Linli Xuy, Kenneth C. Wilbur


ComScore (2016) reports that Americans spend an average of 111 hours per month with TV and an additional 74 hours per month with their smartphone. Nielsen (2016) reports that the average American spends 33 hours weekly with TV and an additional 12 hours per week using a smartphone.1 Hitwise (2016) reports that 60% of all searches come from mobile devices. Casual empiricism, consumer surveys and passive device usage measurements all agree that consumers frequently use television and smartphone simultaneously, especially during the traditional evening "Prime Time" TV viewing hours.

One consequence of television/smartphone multitasking is well established: TV ads lead some viewers to search online for the advertised brands. In fact, a small industry has recently developed to help marketers measure the effectiveness of TV ads through post-ad spikes in online searches. Several marketing research agencies—including C3 Metrics, Google Attribution 360, Neustar MarketShare and others—offer proprietary solutions for attributing search spikes to TV ad spots.