Business Performance Videos

Watch what happens to your web traffic when your TV ad airs

Have you ever wondered what impact a TV ad has on a website when it airs?

I don’t mean overall impact, such as an increase in brand awareness or revenue. I mean the IMMEDIATE impact.

As in, if my advert appears on TV right now, what happens on the website?

Let’s find out

The introduction of Realtime into Google Analytics was a wondrous thing for digital marketers. It provides an opportunity to get a feeling for what is happening right now on a website, without having to rely on day old data. It can be very exciting (and a little mesmerising).

When, my previous employer, ran a new TV campaign in January 2013 it presented a perfect opportunity to answer my question of ‘what happens next?

At 9.45 pm on Sunday 6th January, one of our adverts appeared in the commercial break of the popular drama, Mr Selfridge, on ITV1 (SouthEast & Midwest regions only). Using video capture software, I recorded the Realtime page of our Google Analytics account as the TV ad played and for the 4.5 minutes afterwards.

TV ad impact on web traffic

So what happened?

As the TV advert aired

TV impact on web traffic - at the start

When the advert started there were 1,574 people on the website at that very moment. 51% of these visitors were New and 49% were Returning (had used the site before).

Within seconds of the brand name being mentioned and the website URL appearing at the end of the advertisement, the number of people on the site started to rise.

1 minute after

TV impact on web traffic - after 1 minute

After a little over 1 minute the number really started to climb. I suspect that is how long it takes people to reach for their mobile devices or laptops and type in the URL or conduct a search. At the same time, the split had shifted to 55% New visitors versus 45% Returning visitors.

2 minutes after

TV impact on web traffic - after 2 minutes

About 2 minutes after the ad finished the number of active visitors had increased about 1/3 on the starting figure to 2,084. At that point the split had shifted to 57% New visitors versus 43% Returning visitors.

3 minutes after

TV impact on web traffic - after 3 minutes

The visitor numbers peaked at about 3 minutes after the ad ended, hitting 2,143 active visitors. The visitor split was 58% New visitors versus 42% Returning visitors. By this point the programme was back on and numbers started to settle back down again.


It’s worth mentioning that this was just one ad slot on a Sunday night early in the campaign and isn’t necessarily reflective of the campaign as a whole. However, it does provide some interesting observations:

  • TV advertising drives people to your website. A no brainer really, but nice to see it works.
  • The speed at which people started visiting the site supports the notion of increased adoption of ‘dual screening’ – people using their mobile devices (or laptops) whilst watching TV.
  • TV advertising attracts new users to your site (evidenced by the New/Returning split change), as well as bringing back previous users.

The campaign itself was a great success, breaking records across a range of metrics including visitors and job applications. It also massively helped shift awareness of the Jobsite brand. When we started TV advertising in 2008, awareness levels amongst jobseekers was only 31%, but rose to 68% by the end of the January 2013 campaign. It was equally as impressive with the recruiter audience, rising from 35% to 67%.

As a digital marketer, it’s rare to get an opportunity to do brand focused activity on such a large scale. It also takes some getting used to the ‘measurement’ systems used, such as TVRs, brand consideration, empathy and awareness,  so it’s great to be able to make use of our digital tools to make sense of the impact that offline activity can have.


I originally wrote this post for the corporate blog of Evenbase, the parent company of Jobsite. Following the closure of Evenbase, the article has been reproduced and updated here on my own blog – don’t want a good post go to waste 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *