Are You Aware? How SEM Supports TV

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Irv Brechner



How-SEM-Supports-TV We have proven time and time again that there is a symbiotic relationship between TV advertising and paid search. We know conclusively that when TV campaigns start, search activity on the product, company and buzzwords used in the commercial increases.

But why then do so many TV advertisers of all stripes not have a supporting SEM program designed specifically for their TV campaigns? This includes traditional brand TV advertisers as well as direct response TV marketers.

The Need for SEM to Support TV

Nowadays, just about every TV commercial contains a web URL. Typically, direct response TV (DRTV) commercials feature URLs very prominently, and branding spots usually have the URLs at the end of the spot for a few seconds. Since both groups include the URLs, they are clearly encouraging the consumer to respond, either to buy a product or learn more online.

Nowadays, consumers watch traditional TV with laptops and smart phones in hand, often responding to commercials in real time via these devices. And yet, most TV advertisers are inviting consumers to visit the competition because they don’t support their TV efforts with a robust SEM campaign.

The Reality of What Happens

Let’s say a consumer watches your commercial and decides to respond. He/she can:

  • Pick up a phone and call you
  • Go directly to the web address on the screen
  • Go to Google or Bing and type in the product or company name and/or one or more buzzwords seen or heard in the commercial

You’re in good shape in the first two cases. But when the consumer searches and you’re not visible, that’s a problem. And it’s a growing problem as more and more people respond electronically.

So let’s say you don’t have an SEM campaign at all. Here’s what is likely to happen:

  1. Your commercials air.
  2. Consumers decide to respond.
  3. They go to Google, Bing or another search engine and type in your product or company name or buzzwords.
  4. The search results page shows your competitors’ ads and not yours.
  5. Some percentage of consumers click to your competitors’ sites.

Clearly, spending ad dollars only to have some consumers go elsewhere is not desirable.

The Solution

The simple answer is to craft an SEM program for your TV campaigns. Doing so requires the people producing the commercial to work hand-in-hand with the search people. They will need to provide copies of scripts four to six weeks prior to airing so the search team can launch a campaign designed specifically for those campaigns.

Key Takeaway

Ideally, the SEM campaign should be launched two to four weeks prior to the launch of the TV campaign. This gives the search people enough time to benchmark data so that when the TV campaign airs, it is easy to determine the impact of the TV spot on search.


SEM programs to support any kind of TV advertising should be a “line item” — required in every case, without compromise.

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