Putting a certain global pandemic aside and despite its innumerable detractors, television ad spends in Australia were nudging the $4 billion-mark annually before COVID arrived and pummelled the numbers.
Putting that in perspective, linear, free-to-air TV in Australia still pulls about one-in-four of every ad dollars spent.
Despite the competitive and growing fight for eyeballs – primarily from the spiralling number of SVOD players operating in Australia – networks and their agencies have done well in recent times to increase TV’s transparency, improve measurement and have invested heavily in the promise of addressable TV.
If advertisers want reach and volume, a concerted TV campaign on free-to-air arguably still remains the best bang for your marketing buck.
But for Tug Agency’s client service director, Charlie Bacon (pictured above), too often brands overlook the one thing that can turn a TVC’s ROI from good to gold – the Search component.
The Sydney-based agency’s roots lie in Search and use a combination of media, tech and creative to drive better results for clients’ budgets.
Bacon – who has previously had stints as a Buyer & Planner at Omnicom’s PHD and GroupM’s Wavemaker – is a passionate exponent of the value the too often-ignored role Search plays in improving ATL campaigns and TVC’s effectiveness.
For Bacon, a lot of brands are doing paid search, but SEO remains a cheap and effective way to drive organic growth particularly when combined with the shear grunt TV advertising can provide.
“Anyone can spend a tonne of money on paid advertising, in-house, and still not have any real idea what they’re doing,” Bacon tells B&T.
“What we do at Tug is to work with a client’s development team to improve a brand’s visibility through SEO.
“And what you have to remember is that these people are developers, they’re coders and they don’t always look at things the way a customer does,” Bacon reveals.
“You’d think it would be that simple, and don’t get me wrong, a lot of brands do their SEO really well. But you also need to look at what your competitors are doing. What are they doing better than you? We have a lot of tools we use at Tug and the first thing we do is crawl your site and it could be as simple as your ‘about you’ or the products you have. It’s about putting in the most searched terms and making sure those terms are in their sites content.
“It’s also important to see what your domain authority is. That’s where Google gives you a rating out of 100. Or you can just go for cost per click where you simply buy your way to the top of the page.
“I generally think people are getting better at understanding search in the way it effects them and their brands; it’s definitely not as foreign as it was in the day. But again, that’s not to say everyone’s doing it well,” Bacon says.
To that, he adds, SEO’s never been top of mind for many of the big holding company – led media agencies where traditional thinking – TV, billboards and print – remains writ large in their DNA.
“If your SEO is terrible, you’re not even going to get ranked on the first page, so what’s the point of spending huge sums of money on traditional media if the consumer is unable to find you online when they are at a key trigger point?” Bacon asks.
“You can pour your entire budget into a six-week campaign, but will anyone remember you after it’s finished? Sure, you’ll build brand awareness really quickly, but people also forget really quickly, too. People forget ads because they’re constantly bombarded by ads.”
Bacon adds that what the better media companies are good at doing is using data to discover exactly when a customer is watching and shopping. “It’s about finding when people are most receptive to your message and, yes, that takes a lot of work and I think a lot of agencies just aren’t prepared to put the effort in.”
And then you’ve got the whole search thing on top of that, Bacon adds and “I just think clients aren’t buying into Search as an extension of their other channels because they’re just not aware of the importance of it.”
“Some brands are on-air all year round and that gives you enormous data and metrics. That means their leads are at an all-time high and they’ve never had more brand awareness before and they’re ranking very well.
“Again, if you’re not on the first page (of a Google search) then what’s the point?” he says.
“This is particularly true for new entry brands; they’re going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting to get the same recognition as their well-credentialed competitors.”
Another problem, Bacon adds, is that agencies like to specialise and, too often, only pedal that one speciality.
“As an example, a search agency only wants to do search or they only do traditional media and they just push that agenda,” Bacon reveals.
“Some of the bigger shops, yes, they do the job, but I just don’t think they still understand how strong search is, it takes a back seat. The bigger the brands, they tend to be the ones who have all their bases covered.
“But where there’s a disconnect is when TV is doing well for awareness, you need to be visible online as a consumer enters the consideration phase of a purchase decision. People just don’t see it as a full-circle thing,” he says.
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