Can TV Love Digital?

Two years ago, TripAdvisor’s TV campaign was tanking.  CEO Stephen Kaufer said the company was “looking for a harder-hitting campaign.”  Translation:  bad creative.  TripAdvisor’s CFO said it wanted TV with “action immediately after seeing the spot.

70% of TV’s success = creative.  Once you have good creative, media can do its job.

Fast forward to today:  WPP’s agency Johannes Leonardo created new spots which are now running.

The TV spot retrains people how to search.  Instead of searching “Hawaii” (as the words Hawaii are typed into a search engine) the spot retrains you to type “TripAdvisor Hawaii” illustrating the difference of an unclean hotel room versus a clean one.

The agency should know a thing or two about digital, most of the Google’s TV ads come from Johannes Leonardo.

But the amazing bonus is this:  lowering search cost.

All search professionals know that the more generic a term, the more likely to be a high costterm.  However the more precise a term, the more likely it’s lower cost.

So when TripAdvisor’s TV commercials air, they retrain people how to search. Not ‘Rome’ or ‘Rome hotel’ but ‘TripAdvisor Rome’.  The result:  more precise searches.

Two things are evident for TripAdvisor:  overall searches are up, and cost per search is more efficient.  TV making digital more efficient.  Ironic, but odd things happen: cats and dogs occasionally snuggle and get along too.

But wait, all might not be well beneath the covers in tracking land.

Right now tablet ownership per U.S. Household tallies 42% and growing.  Most of those ‘TripAdvisor Rome’ searches come from the growing device used while watching television:  a tablet or smartphone.

The search takes place, yet continued searches for a high-consideration purchase often happen across multiple devices.  Tracking back to the original search click isn’t hard on one device, but add in the 42% cross-device hole–and it makes a search professional’s job a lot more difficult (and a TV media buyer’s job incredibly difficult).  Integration isn’t always easy unless you’ve attributed TV-driven search plus all digital dots across devices.

Nevertheless, TripAdvisor has gotten TV to love digital, and it might the smartest TV advertiser on air.

Accidental or not, the industry could finally be cracking the “whole egg” of integrated marketing espoused four decades ago.   Back to the future.