A new study has found that, for smaller businesses looking to generate a rapid uptake in sales volume, TV is the most effective advertising medium.

The research by marketing company Data2Decisions found that TV triumphed across 78 brands and more than 300 campaigns for small businesses – creating 80% of smaller businesses’ advertising-generated sales, even though it accounted for a much smaller proportion of their advertising spend (66%).

By comparison, researchers found other online and below-the-line channels (such as search, affiliate marketing, display and CRM) accounted for 17% of total advertising spend but generated just 6% of sales.

The study, “Supercharge: TV for small businesses”, was commissioned by TV marketing body Thinkbox, and looked at brands over three years, evaluating the sustained business effects of ad campaigns. Small businesses were defined as those whose brand size is under 1% of the market leaders.

The researchers compiled a list of useful tips for small businesses looking at a move into TV advertising:
  • Use TV when other demand-generating channels are saturated. Some channels, such as search, CRM, display and affiliate marketing, are effective at low spending levels but quickly saturate and stop delivering. The researchers said this means TV’s share of ad budgets should increase as total budget increases, because diminishing returns from TV ads occur at much higher levels than other channels.
  • Focus on brand awareness first rather than activation. Activation typically improves by around 14% after a brand awareness campaign.
  • Start short. First-time advertisers should start with a 30-seconds-or-less ad. Optimal length, researchers found, was 20 seconds – but actual length depends on the complexity of the creative message.
  • Be seasonal. Use different windows of opportunity in TV to leverage the seasonal variation in TV-ad pricing, and seasonal sales effects. For FMCG, for example, the optimal months are July and August.
  • Start with a burst, rather than a drip. To fully leverage the seasonal effect, burst campaigns at the most efficient time of year beat a longer campaign spread over the year. As businesses grow, however, a more sustained TV presence throughout the year is recommended.

Sourced from Thinkbox; additional content by WARC staff