A combination of television and online advertising can yield distinct cross-media impacts in different countries, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

June Soo Lee and Demetrios Vakratsas, both from the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, wrote the paper, entitled Dynamic asymmetric effects of cross-media exposures over the purchase cycle: In China, TV ads benefit from prior online exposure, but not vice-versa.

The study focused on a campaign – featuring TV spots, pre-roll and banner ads – for a consumer-packaged goods brand in China that ran for 33 weeks and drew on 293,799 “panel-time observations” from its consumer sample.

Overall, “most households were exposed only to television advertising”, while others saw ads on both channels, and a “few” solely were exposed to digital ads, the authors explained.

And their analysis found that “cross-media synergies not only exist but are dynamic and exhibit asymmetries” in terms of their impact on consumers.

“Moreover, cross-media exposure may be necessary to increase credibility and persuasion through source magnification … thus creating a threshold past which advertising is effective only through cross-media exposure.”

Such lessons counter recent research suggesting that “television–online synergy effects in Western markets are tenuous at best”, the study asserted.

A possible explanation for this difference is the “market setting” and the “relatively high credibility that advertising enjoys in China” when compared with Western markets, according to the authors.

Drilling down into their results, they explained “that cross-media advertising can produce synergistic effects that enhance response to television advertising because of prior online exposure” among the Chinese audience.

“Prior television exposure, however, does not enhance online advertising effectiveness. Synergistic effects hence are asymmetric, with online advertising playing an ancillary, catalytic role.”

“Cross-media campaigns may introduce ‘extreme complementarity’, whereby exposure to all media is necessary for a campaign to be effective,” the authors wrote.

The study also discovered significant regional variation in advertising response to add to a limited amount of evidence on the topic.

And this outcome, in part, may be by the limited internet access “for a number of Chinese consumers, especially in rural areas, and is supported by the data on lower reach of online advertising compared with television”.

Sourced from WARC