TV ads and online shopping

Marketers need to take account of TV ads'€™ brand-building effects when they consider how much to spend on TV versus digital. Kenneth Wilbur summarizes findings of new research:

TV advertising and online search and shopping

Television advertising produces a variety of effects on Internet shopping behavior. TV ads can stimulate product category search; increase the usage of branded keywords in place of generic keywords; stimulate or depress direct traffic to the brand website; and stimulate immediate shopping and sales on the brand's website. Television advertising content that encourages direct action increases immediate direct website traffic and sales.

Evidence base

Minute-by-minute changes in Yahoo search during the 2011 Super Bowl; changes in Internet shopping and sales in narrow windows of time around the airing of 350,000 TV ad insertions worth $3.4 billion by 20 brands in four product categories; hourly analysis of Google search data and $1.7 billion spent on TV advertising by 24 financial services brands over three months; second-by-second analysis of server logs and a large-scale TV ad experiment for an anonymous brand.


Kenneth C. Wilbur, University of California, San Diego

Managerial implications        

Advertisers must consider how television advertising affects multitaskers' behavior online. ROI metrics that fail to account for traditional media'€™s brand-building effects will likely lead marketers to spend too little on TV and too much on digital. Traditional and digital agencies should work together to plan, execute, evaluate, and integrate their marketing communications.


Joo, M., K.C. Wilbur, B. Cowgill, and Y. Zhu (2014), "€œTelevision Advertising and Online Search."€ Management Science 60 (1), 56–€“73

Kitts, Brendan, et al. (2014) "€œCan Television Advertising Impact Be Measured on the Web? Web Spike Response as a Possible Conversion Tracking System for Television."€ Proceedings of 20th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. ACM, New York City.

Liaukonyte, J., T. Teixeira, and Kenneth C. Wilbur (2015), "Television Advertising and Online Shopping."€ Marketing Science 34 (3), 311–€“30

Zigmond, Dan, and Horst Stipp (2010) "Assessing a New Advertising Effect: Measurement of the Impact of Television Commercials on Internet Search Queries."€ Journal of Advertising Research 50 (2), 162–€“€“8

Zigmond, Dan, and Horst Stipp (2011), "€œMultitaskers May Be Advertisers'€™ Best Audience."€ Harvard Business Review 12 (1/2), 32–€“€“3