Thales Teixeira, Harvard Business School

How TV Advertising Impacts Online Visitation and Sales

May 2, 2013 | 3:00pm - 4:30pm | Cotting Conference Room | Open to public


Strategy Unit

Technology & Operations Management Unit

Digital Initiative

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We investigate how television advertising content affects online traffic to the advertiser’s website and their sales. To do so, we assemble a unique quasi-experimental database that tracks the changes in 22 brands’ online website visitation from two important routes, either directly (e.g., URL typing) or indirectly (e.g., via search engines) and corresponding purchases made. The data include more than 374,000 insertions of 1,326 different TV advertisements appearing in US broadcast networks in 2010. We also code 21 features of advertising content to understand the extent to which each one promotes the brand’s short-run (direct response) or long-run sales (brand-image building). We find that distinct elements of television advertising content affects internet traffic and sales. Direct-response elements induce either visitation, direct or via search engine, or purchases, but not both. Brand-image building ads are also prone to this trade-off and in addition do not drive direct visitation immediately after the ad is aired or shortly thereafter. Approaches to better integrating TV ads with online search and website advertising are discussed.​