In a multichannel environment, brands and marketers need to think carefully about how customers will respond to offline advertising. 

If people see a product or service they like, will they open up their laptops and type the URL used on the ad into a search engine? Will they search for the brand online instead? Or will they use the smartphone in their pocket? 

For example, if I see an advert for a car and type the make and model into Google, I want to see a landing page that matches my expectations; providing details of the car, some nice photos and videos, and a link to find my local dealer, or book a test drive. 

Whether this was the aim of the ad or not, TV campaigns will drive spikes in search activity online. 

According to a recent study by Efficient Frontier, TV ads can drive an 80% rise in branded search. 

In the study, searches during an eight-week TV ad campaign will typically jump between 60 to 80% on the brand name, and between 40 and 60% on generic terms related to the brand.

Why get people to search online? 

Online offers an immediate response mechanism for viewers of TV ads. It allows brands an opportunity to capitalise instantly of the effect of the ad. 

If a customer has seen a pair of shoes they like on an M&S ad for instance, they can head online and purchase it within minutes. 

If it’s a car insurance advert, customers can open their laptops and start the quotation process straight away. 

Even when the product or service cannot be purchased online, then the internet offers a way to capture customer details, for people to book an appointment or a test drive within minutes of the ad. 

People are increasingly using different kinds of media while they are watching TV. With laptops, smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad, many viewers are likely to have the internet at their fingertips while watching TV. 

For example, a recent IAB study found that 49% of mobile internet users will often watch TV while browsing on their phones. 

This offers an excellent opportunity for marketers to get viewers to respond to TV ads by going online. 

What kinds of tactics can brands use to get viewers of TV ads to search online? 

Place a URL in the ad

An obvious way to do it - the URL both indicates that a brand is online, and directs the viewer exactly where they need to go, though how many users type the exact web address into their browsers is questionable.

This is becoming common practice in the majority of TV and print advertising. A recent survey by Nominet found that 65% of all UK print and television advertising now includes a web address

There is a disparity between print and TV though; 83% of print ads now feature a URL compared with just 61% of TV ads, a missed opportunity, especially when you consider the higher costs of TV advertising. 

A URL in an ad gives customers a response mechanism and, if they type in the correct web address, they’ll go to a dedicated landing page.  

Unique URLs also provide a mechanism for marketers to track response to offline advertising. 

However, URLs need to be memorable, and not too long, otherwise people will make mistakes. 

Search calls to action

Another option is to direct people to search for a particular word or phrase online. 

Users often prefer to search for navigation purposes online, rather than using the browser bar to type in the web address and go directly to a website. 

The fact that major online destinations like Facebook, eBay and Amazon regularly feature in lists of top searched keywords is evidence of this behaviour. 

Given that people responding to ads online, it makes sense to take account of this behaviour, and direct users to search for a particular term. 

This approach has the added advantage of making the offline campaign more trackable, as brands and advertisers can monitor any spikes in searches for keywords and phrases used in offline advertising. 

There are some potential drawbacks to this approach though. Firstly, the use of a unique search keyword or phrase tells competitors about your search strategy, and gives them the opportunity to bid on these terms and hijack traffic driven by the ads. 

Make it easy for users to search for the brand or product

Whether you include a URL or a search call to action on the ad or not, it’s likely that many people will respond to ads by searching for the brand or product name online. 

This is often the easiest way for users to respond to ads, so brands need to have done their homework so that they are highly visible in the search results pages for these terms. 

Facebook landing pages

Another recent trend has been for brands to direct viewers and readers on TV and print ads to a Facebook page. 

This is something Ford has been doing in its recent campaign for the new Focus, and visitors arrive at a landing page with videos and information about the car. 

This approach can help brands to build a following on the site, as hopefully users will arrive at the Facebook page while logged into their own account. 

Then, if they hit the ‘like’ button, the page will also be promoted to that user’s Facebook friends. 

Create a unique phrase or character

By using Aleksandr the meerkat, and inviting viewers to search for Compare the Meerkat, the insurance firm managed to create a clear call to action which, given the unique nature of the search phrase, made It easier for them to ensure that the landing page was highly visible in search results. 

It was also an excellent way of saving money on paid search. When the campaign was launched in 2009, the cost per click for the word ‘meerkat’ was 5p, compared to £5 for the keyword ‘market’. 

This allowed Compare the Market to achieve search visibility in a highly competitive market at a fraction of the normal cost. 

QR codes

The use of QR codes isn’t yet widespread, and mobile users do have to download a code reader application before they can scan them, but this does offer a potentially valuable direct response mechanism. 

By showing QR codes in offline ads, brands could send mobile users straight to a dedicated landing page, a video showing the product, or a voucher to be redeemed at their local store. 


According to a recent MMA/Lightspeed survey, 31% of UK consumers would be more likely to respond to an ad if there was a mobile response mechanism on offer. 

The same survey found that sending a keyword by SMS to a shortcode was the most widely recognised mobile response mechanism. 

Directing searchers to the correct landing page

Getting people to search online after viewing an ad is just the first part of the challenge. Next, they need to be directed to the correct website or landing page, and this is all about having the right search strategy in place. 


This is something that should be planned well in advance so that brand and non-brand search terms are in high enough positions to capture the extra search traffic that TV ads will generate. 

How hard this is to achieve will depend on the brand and product name. If you have a more generic brand or product name, then creating a unique search phrase or URL may be an alternative strategy.   

Ford has managed to get the SEO right, and people searching for the Ford Fiesta currently being advertised on TV shouldn't have any trouble finding the right page:

Paid search 

The one guaranteed way to top the search engines around the time of TV ad campaigns is buy the related paid search keywords and phrases. 

While brands may be worried about spending on paid search straight after a TV advertising campaign, they will often see higher than average conversion rates, which should justify the extra expenditure. 

Tips for landing pages

Getting users to respond to ads by searching online is just the first step. To make the most of these leads, an effective landing page is the next step. 

Create mobile-friendly landing pages

People are increasing watching TV or reading newspapers while using their mobiles to access the internet, and are increasingly likely to use their phones to respond to ads. 

If they do this, only to find a slow-loading page that has not been optimised for mobiles, containing Flash elements and videos that won’t work, then the effort made by the advertiser to get a response has been wasted. 

Brands don’t need to ‘dumb down’ landing pages just to cater fro mobile users, they can simply detect the device accessing the page and divert mobile and tablet users to the most suitable version. 

Clear link from main homepage to landing page

Brands may have included a URL or a clear search call to action in the ad which leads to a dedicated micro site, but many people will just end up at the brand’s main homepage anyway. 

These visitors should be able to see a link to the micro site and images or copy that matches what they have just seen in the offline advertising. 

For example, though Ford’s ad campaign for the new Focus invites users to its Facebook page, visitors to its website will immediately see links and information related to the new car and the ad campaign. 

Include clear calls to action on landing pages

Whatever the purpose of the landing page is, inviting people to make a purchase, sign up for newsletters, or book a test drive, it should be unmistakably clear to visitors. 

Your landing page should include clear calls to action that make the next step you want visitors to take as clear as possible.  

Continue the ad experience onto the landing page

If customers have taken the trouble to head to your landing page after seeing the TV or print ad, then it must have been effective. 

Continue this effect through to the landing page by using images, language and even video which matches the offline ad and reinforces the message you were aiming for. 

In Ford's landing page for the current Fiesta campaign, visitors can see an annotated version of the TV ad, as well as a wealth of information on the new car: 

Add sharing options

If you have created a great TV ad and attracted visitors to your landing page, make it easy for them to share it with others, and extend the reach of your campaign for free. 

Add links to allow users to easily share the content with friends via email or social media sites. 

Don’t ask too much

If you are asking people to submit their details or sign up for a quote, then make the process as smooth as possible. 

Asking for too much information at this stage risks frightening them off and wasting the investment you made getting them there. 

Don’t drive people away by asking for anything you don’t actually need.

Provide a range of contact options for visitors

You may have created the perfect landing page, but some people will still not respond, so give them options.

Provide different contact options, including email addresses, contact forms, phone numbers, so they can choose how they would like to contact you. 

Measuring the success of TV campaigns

Here are a few ways you can measure how effective TV ads have been in driving traffic online. 

Ask customers

If customers have arrived at your site, you can simply ask which media channel influenced their decision to visit. 

However, if you make this a compulsory field during the checkout or registration process, then the answers given may be less reliable. 

Monitor brand traffic

A simple measure of the impact of an offline campaign is the traffic driven by your brand keywords. 

If a TV advert has encouraged people to think about your brand then you should see more people searching for your brand. 

Hybrid traffic

Hybrid traffic combines a brand term with either generic or specific terms. 

This could be a combination of brand name and product in the term, or some other feature from the ad. This would show that this search traffic is directly related to the ad. 

Catchphrase Traffic

Some of the best adverts create memorable slogans or catch phrases. If you have optimised for this phrase, and people are responding to the ad, you may well see more traffic based on this. 

Geographic analysis

Many analytic packages allow you to view where in the country traffic has come from. This is ideal if you are running a geographic specific campaign, on regional TV for example. 

Paid search clicks

As with brand search terms, you should see a higher click through rate from paid search ads related to the TV campaign. 

Conversions / sign ups

The conversions from traffic related to the TV ads, or for the products advertised, should give an idea of the ad’s success. 

Unique URLs

If you have a URL that is unique to a TV ad campaign, then traffic to this address will be directly attributable to the ad in question. 

Graham Charlton

Published 4 July, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

2566 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (16)

Save or Cancel
James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

"Continue the ad experience onto the landing page" is often over-looked. I've worked with Clients who didn't join up the creative, so the landing page bared no resemblance to the original ad. When compared with coordinated landing pages, the click rates were much lower and bounce rates higher. Alas I don't have any numbers to hand, my short term memory doesn't allow it.

For me it comes down to whether or not companies think carefully about the user experience. Any marketing campaign has to be reviewed in the context of how easy it is for the audience to respond and how effective each channel is in supporting that. The audience doesn't care that they saw an add offline but are now on your website - for them it's the same company, same brand, same product/service, so it's up to the company to get organised and make it seamless.

Thanks for the post

about 7 years ago


jason @ marketing websites

A great and very informative post> I've always wondered how people leap from TV to internet, but the rise of mobile internet can only help.

Along with the rise of irritating adverts (Cue Go Compare ad)

about 7 years ago


Tom Smith

Until Facebook improve the mobile experience, driving TV ad traffic to Facebook pages, in my opinion, isn't necessarily a great idea.

We know that "49% of mobile internet users will often watch TV whilst browsing on their phones."

Facebook, when viewed on almost all mobiles/smartphones will only allow users to view the wall, info, and photos; making it difficult to continue the creative experience from TV ad to online.

Granted, the mobile user may 'like' the page, and return at a later date, but quite a few recent TV ads have asked people to enter a competition on their Facebook page - an impossible task on most mobile devices.

about 7 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

Hi article Graham

Blatant plug... to compliment this I have a whitepaper that details the tracking of off-line marketing:

Best regards, Brian
Author, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics

about 7 years ago


Lex Bradshaw-Zanger

An excellent piece, that many agencies need to learn from - we need to make TV ads work much, much harder and not think that they will simply drive brand image in isolation.

Thinking about the consumer journey, how they experience TV within a larger media mix - within their lives - and how we can make the process easier. With an ever increasing number of messages consumers are becoming lazier and we need to help them move through the purchase funnel by linking up our work.

Thanks for sharing this - well written, clear and a quick win for many brands.

about 7 years ago


Gareth Phillips

"There is a disparity between print and TV though; 83% of print ads now feature a URL compared with just 61% of TV ads, a missed opportunity, especially when you consider the higher costs of TV advertising."

That is because people do not remember the url when they only get a glimpse of it on a tv ad where in print they can sit at the computer with the ad a type it in. The practice of putting a url ina tv ad is redundant - much better is a call to action to search... It is NOT a missed opportunity, people aren't doing it because it does not work.

about 7 years ago

Alice Morgan

Alice Morgan, Freelance digital marketing consultant at Freelance

I've been preaching this to my main client for some time now, but the trouble is they don't have the money for telly - and i've been advising the use of radio instead. Do you - or anyone else out there - have any insights? Mine are based on good experiences with radio in the past and on hearing a lot of calls to action at the end of radio commercials, such as "search xyz..." or "Google abc for more information". Creative is of course very, very important too.

about 7 years ago



This article doesn't take in to account audience, product, price......
It is the combination of these factors that help marketers to decide how best to acquire and convert customers. I've work with many brands who don't convert prospects well when driven through online response and as a result wouldn't use it as the main channel, preferring instead to use text and phone. It's not a missed opportunity it's a conscience business decision and the numbers stack up.

about 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

@ George I'm inclined to agree - a search call to action, or just doing the SEO and PPC work so that people seeing the ad and searching for the brand will find what they are looking for.

@Alice - I think broadly, these point extend to radio as well, though a search call to action would clearly work better than a URL.

@Lucinda - this article is necessarily arguing that brands should treat online as the main response channel. The effectiveness of online will vary between sectors and products, but a certain amount of people will be searching online after watching ads, and this does need to be taken into account.

It's a missed opportunity if the people that do search online can't find more information about a product or service, or buy, sign up etc.

about 7 years ago


, Managing Director at Content Formula

Great article with lots of useful tips and watchouts. In my humble experience I've come across a couple of other things you don't mention:

The first one is that marketers sometimes don't want to include the URL on their ad because they want to keep the message on their ad as simple and clean as possible. I always find this is a poor excuse for not including the URL but I have heard it a few times.

The second one is that a TV which has a call to action to go to your site, especially one offering a free sample will drive hoards of traffic all at once. You need to make sure your site can handle the load before you do this or your TV investment does not reach its full potential.

about 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

@ Dan - good point about handling the traffic, that should also be part of the preparation before a campaign launch.

about 7 years ago

Aggelos Taplatzidis

Aggelos Taplatzidis, Consultant, Web solutions at Squiz UK

One of the reasons I love new ads its because many arent selling anymore, but create interest or buzz, in online terms, around a certain message.
The most clever prompt you to go online and search because many are for online companies. Especially in the UK we see more and more ads for sites, which I think is quite funny, but it nevertheless increases traffic. Not banner traffic (random) but relevant traffic which can also me more measurable by associating traffic spikes with broadcasting times of ads.

Isnt it just brilliant?

Angelos Taplatzidis

about 7 years ago


Webisodes Webseries

For me it comes down to whether or not companies think carefully about the user experience. And i hope to be continued to your work.
Thank you,,,

almost 7 years ago


Ross Gallie

Interesting articles and comments. Good summary of the methods and I think we will get more creative ways dreamed up - (eg like the John West enter the number on the can campaign)

We feel we have come up with one more effective way of driving customers online.
It involves registering and linking a simple word or set of words to multiple webpages so companies can use an image with a memorable icon and word in their advertising to dynamically direct their audience to exactly where they want them to.

Here at we did some research on this on Sunday papers and we were still amazed at how many adverts that included a URL still did not direct the audience to items related to the advert without the user having to click 2 to 3 times to get to the correct page.
The problem we found with a URLs to be effective it meant that they were too long and not so memorable.
Adding social media icons alone, in the advert did not make it easy to find the right social profile.
It's fine if have a PC/laptop in front of you while you are reading/watching the advert then you will type a URL in, but in most cases I expect the audience remembers 2 or 3 keywords from the advert and will type them later into a search engine.
Like a brand name or slogan why don't companies direct their audience more on what to search for?.
This is catching on in Radio and TV adverts but this is useful in printed media as well. We found adverts that say Search for "x and y" means that you are going to be more effective in driving their audience to the right search terms they have set up in their SEO.
Of course as alot of the comments above stress, you need to capture the attention one you have directed them online. One of the best adverts for doing this in our research A good co-ordinated campaign accross all medias.
We look forward to seeing what else marketeers come up with!

over 6 years ago



I really like it when people come together and share thoughts.

Great website, stick with it!

about 6 years ago


Paul Lymer, Director at Improve Marketing

Still some very valid points in the is post even though it is so old. Great to see this updated. Love the comments from the community.

about 1 year ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.