Thinking inside the box: Measuring the success of TV marketing

“Nothing can tell a brand’s story, build a brand’s fame, it’s success, like TV”

– Russel Howcroft

Network Ten General Manager and regular Gruen panelist Russel Howcroft is naturally one of Australia’s most vocal advocates of television advertising but measuring these benefits can be difficult.

$3.5 Billion Reasons to Measure TV Marketing

When television advertising arrived in the US in 1955, it changed the world of advertising more than anything before or since (Heath and Stipp, 2011).  Over 60 years later, TV is still a popular medium for increasing sales and profits and for heightening brand equity (Erdemir, 2016).  As shown below, television receives the single greatest advertising expenditure in Australia by some margin.

Digital media, such as YouTube and Facebook channels, are seen as threats to revenues of commercial TV advertising, so it’s vital to understand how to measure its impact and guide future actions to maintain its relevance.

What are Marketing Metrics?

Marketing metrics can describe a brand’s activities in the market and how the market responds to those activities.  The use of metrics has been positively associated with marketing mix performance (Mintz and Currim, 2013) and they provide a baseline for measuring goal achievement.

However, identifying cause and effect in marketing is a real challenge (Wildner and Modenbach, 2015) and just as marketers need to find the right mix using the 4Ps (product, price, promotion and place), the right mix of metrics must be found to measure marketing performance.

Financial Metrics

In the commercial world, dollars speak loudly and return on investment (ROI), profit margins, profit contributions and customer values are just some of the financial metrics available.  Let’s focus on ROI, which is the net return of incremental profit as a ratio of any incremental spending (Ambler and Roberts, 2008).  For example, if $100 is spent on a TV commercial and it directly results in $115 of return profits, the ROI on advertising spend is 15 per cent.

Russel Howcroft and fellow board members of the newly-formed marketing and research firm ThinkTV Australia are aiming to quantify the ROI for TV marketing in Australia.  Rightly so, as ultimately marketers will find it easier to obtain funding for those activities that are most measurable (O’Sullivan and Abela, 2007).  The results of this study will be very interesting to read when they are published but they are unlikely to result in other types of marketing metrics being ignored, particularly when ROI as a marketing metric is criticised for its short-term focus (Ambler and Roberts, 2008).

Money Isn’t Everything: Other Types of Marketing Metrics

Monitoring the behaviour of consumers in response to TV marketing is also a vital measurement tool.  Behavioural metrics such as tracking sales, market share and market penetration can all assist marketers, as can customer loyalty, defection rates and consumer complaints and recommendations. Behavioural metrics is a complex field as found by Chang and Thorson (2004), who concluded that product type and consumer involvement are mediating factors in the behavioural responses of consumers in advertisements, particularly for products which are low involvement, such as soft-drinks where recall was inadequate to enhance attitudinal and behavioural effects towards purchasing the advertised products.

Advertisers can also profile customers to identify and reach different markets. Information such as age, gender and income levels help marketers to identify how their audience an be reached to influence their product purchase decisions (Iacobucci, 2014). Regardless of demographic though, TV remains the number one medium that they consume, so the market is TV’s to lose.


think-tv-commercial-tv-viewing-report-12-638 *GB = Grocery Buyers

Memory and mental metrics describe the broad range of factors that can determine how well brand messaging resonates with consumers. By simply surveying consumers to determine brand awareness, brand image association, brand attitude (relevance), and intention to purchase (Sharp, 2013), marketers can go a long way to determining how well their marketing is performing.

There’s a lot to consider, but is ROI the answer?

As illustrated, there are many ways in which marketing can be measured.  While ROI is a vital component of reviewing any expenditure or investment, it would be foolish to see it as the only measure of marketing activity.  Behavioural metrics, customer profiling and memory and mental metrics are just some examples of the broad range of other metrics available.  Modern marketers would be well advised to consider which mix of metrics works best for their product and conduct regular reviews to ensure they remain relevant and effective in reaching their short and long term marketing goals.

What about the future of TV marketing?

While nobody can predict the future, the TV advertising industry remains relevant with broad reach into the vast majority of Australian homes.  As such, marketers would be taking a huge risk to completely drop their TV advertising commitments.

It will be vital for marketers to continue to monitor their own TV advertising efforts, as well as industry trends including Think TV’s research into ROI.  But just as you would never ask a barber if you need a haircut, I would never ask Russel Howcroft if TV advertising is best for my product and rely solely on his answer.

The bottom line is that marketers need to find answers to these complex questions themselves and customise a mix of financial and non-financial marketing metrics to measure success against specific goals over a range of time periods.


Ambler, T. and Roberts, J.H. (2008) ‘Assessing marketing performance: Don’t settle for a silver metric’, Journal of Marketing Management, 24(7-8), pp. 733–750.

Chang, Y. and Thorson, E. (2004) ‘Television and Web Advertising Synergies’, Journal of Advertising, 33(2), pp. 75–84.

Erdemir, A. S. (2016), ‘Integrating Second Screen and Moments of Inspiration: Impact of Socialization and Patronage on Purchase Decision’, Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences, vol. 28 (1), pp. 13-31.

Heath, R.G. and Stipp, H. (2011) ‘The secret of television’s success: Emotional content or rational information?’, Journal of Advertising Research, 51 (150th Anniversary Supplement), pp. 112–123.

Iacobucci, D. (2014) Marketing Management (MM), 4th Edition, South-Western, Cenage Learning, Mason.

Mintz, O. and Currim, I.S. (2013) ‘What drives managerial use of marketing and financial metrics and does metric use affect performance of marketing-mix activities?’, Journal of Marketing, 77(2), pp. 17–40.

O’Sullivan, D. and Abela, A.V. (2007) ‘Marketing performance measurement ability and firm performance’, Journal of Marketing, 71(2), pp. 79–93.

Sharp, B. (2013) Marketing Metrics. Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia.

Wildner, R. and Modenbach, G. (2015) ‘The long-term ROI of TV advertising in a digital world’, GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 7(1).


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