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Hew Bruce-Gardyne
Hew Bruce-Gardyne 26 November 2020

Thinking Outside The Box: How DTC Used TV to Reach New Audiences Throughout Lockdown

Well-positioned to offer consumers quick service without them having to leave their homes, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands saw a boost during lockdown. And a big part of this success was down to TV advertising, which raised brand awareness and drove digital responses for these brands.

Lockdown changed many shopping habits – not least the weekly supermarket shop – leaving consumers looking for new ways to source food and other goods. Digitally native direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands and delivery businesses saw their customer bases grow dramatically as they were well positioned to offer services quickly and without the need to even leave the house.

To raise brand awareness and drive digital response, digitally native brands turned to TV to facilitate their growth. Let’s take a closer look at where and when these brands are achieving success on TV…

Why Digital Natives Chose TV

The pandemic hasn’t been all negative. We’ve seen acts of kindness to strangers and a revived appreciation for community spirit. Some industries have even gone from strength to strength as our consumer habits shifted, from gaming to logistics companies.

Another industry that’s been propelled forward by the pressures of global lockdown measures is TV. In fact, British adults are now spending, on average, as much as 40% of their waking hours in front of a TV screen. Couple this with lower inventory costs and the path to entry is much more accessible, especially for young brands looking to launch their first TV ad. 

TV has been the go-to for this broad reach for over 50 years, but the missing piece of the puzzle has been measurement. For advertisers, it is about understanding the outcomes and key performance indicators (KPIs) – they want to know the return on investment (ROI) of their TV spend, not only who saw their ad but what action they then took.

With second screening boosted thanks to lockdown restrictions this response is mostly digital, which enables TV spend to be tied to business outcomes.

Case Study: Parsley Box

For Parsley Box, a DTC company that launched its first TV ad campaign during the pandemic, company growth has been impressive. The pandemic had already influenced sales, with many of the company’s customers being senior citizens, orders shot up from 500 to 3,000 overnight after the UK went into lockdown.

Then, on 1st June Parsley Box’s first TV ad was broadcast in the UK. This took the company’s marketing strategy from only offline media and word of mouth to a new medium that allowed them to reach their quickly growing consumer base.

Thanks to TV investment, the business is running 45% ahead of where it had forecast its response growth and was able to build relationships with a vulnerable customer base. The introduction of TV propelled the company forward; it hired additional employees to help fulfil the surge in delivery orders, and thrived in a competitive marketplace during this challenging time.

The Data Points: What DTCs Need to Know to Make TV Even More Successful

DTC brands are one of the fastest growing groups of TV advertisers, with many embracing TV’s role as a powerful performance-marketing channel. TVSquared data shows us that there is more to the story than simply airing an ad. It’s about understanding how audiences are reacting on the other side of the glass. The DTC fitness category in particular has seen TV-driven performance increase by +200% as most homes needed to double as a workout space.

DTC online education also experienced huge demand, with schools closed for a large chunk of the year, online classrooms became a necessity and the category experienced a +120% response increase. For one specific app-based DTC education brand, its advertising efforts across TV platforms saw its linear TV response rise by 63%, with OTT achieving an impressive 85% increase.

Using the insight TV now is able to provide, one online food delivery brand was able to increase its response by 100% vs pre-Covid – even when it reduced TV spend by 20%. While for a health and wellness app, the brand reduced its OTT spend by 30% in March before reinvesting in TV advertising in April – response is now surpassing pre-Covid averages by 25%.

For DTCs to gain response lifts like this, they need to approach TV with a test and learn attitude. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, but by exploring genre, channel, time of day and creative length digital natives can capture a share of the web traffic and response. For example, looking at ads aired during the morning and overnight, they drove strong response at +85% and +90% respectively.

Thanks to increased TV viewing across all platforms and lower inventory costs, it’s a great time for DTC brands to experiment with TV. When the pressure is on to reach new audiences, and generate the best possible business outcomes from potentially reduced budgets, it’s essential for DTC brands to understand what works, and how they can maximise returns.  

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