Aaron Sanandres, co-founder and CEO of Untuckit, leverages about every marketing channel available to him.
The retailer, which launched in 2011 and sells men’s and women’s shirts that are designed to be worn untucked, along with other apparel, says print, radio, podcasts, digital advertising and TV all play an important role for the merchant. Especially since many people are unfamiliar with the retailer or the idea behind its shirts.
Untuckit, No. 405 in the 2018 Internet Retailer Top 1000, in late 2014 tried TV advertising. Before that, the retailer had mainly focused on airline magazines and radio spots, Sanandres says.
“I knew once we could afford to put a commercial together, I wanted to do it. There’s no other platform that can get you in front of 30 million people in 30 seconds,” he says.
The challenge of TV advertising
However, the difficulty with TV is measuring the effectiveness of an ad, Sanandres says. With digital media, a retailer can see every time a shopper clicks on a paid search ad and if that click leads to a sale or how long that shopper spent on the site. Cookies also allow retailers to see online actions from the same consumer over time—such as if she visited Untuckit.com from a retargeting ad on Weather.com, browsed and left but later directly navigated to the site and made a purchase.
You can’t get that easily with TV advertising, Sanandres says. There are low-brow ways to measure, like sitting in front of Google Analytics as a local ad airs and watch if people from that area come to the site, Sanandres says, but that’s labor intensive and not particularly accurate. “Clearly, the more you spend, the easier it is to see an impact from a TV commercial, but local TV is a lot harder—when you are spending $300 reaching just 50,000 people,” Sanandres says.
To help Untuckit better track the results of TV advertising and better allocate TV ad spend, the retailer in November began working with TVSquared. TVSquared continuously calculates an advertiser’s baseline traffic for every minute of every day, excluding site visits that are a result of online advertising, and adjusting for seasonality such as the holidays or Father’s Day. The baseline is the traffic Untuckit would generate without the assistance of TV spots, says Kevin O’Reilly, chief strategy officer of TVSquared.
As advertisements air across various networks and geographic locations, TVSquared then pinpoints the TV spot that drove a consumer to respond—and via cookies, continues to track those visitors to see what actions they take in the hours, days and weeks after a spot airs. This is designed to help an advertiser see how TV influenced a sale or conversion, O’Reilly says.
“Essentially, our clients know what aspects of the TV buy (or what TV advertisements) are working and which ones are not,” O’Reilly says. Using that information, businesses can then optimize TV advertisement by day, time of day, program, genre, creative, network or audience segment.
Results of the TV ad spend
Untuckit is continuously measuring and optimizing its TV initiatives with data from TVSquared. Additionally, Untuckit coordinates search marketing campaigns to correlate with TV spots so that a shopper searching for Untuckit immediately after an ad airs will easily find the site via, for example, a paid search ad.
Since implementing TVSquared and using the data it provides to hone its TV ads, Untuckit has found that after a TV spot airs, its website bounce rate—people coming to the site and leaving after one page—falls by as much as 45%. This signals that TV is attracting more engaged shoppers who stay and explore, TVSquared says. Untuckit also has found that TV spots correlate with a higher rate of purchases for as long as an hour after a spot airs, the companies say, without being more specific.
“It’s important to test [with TV], to be iterative and fairly flexible,” Sanandres says. “The biggest mistake you can make with TV is spending too much. You can spend $200 with TV or up to $750,000. TVSquared has allowed us to better plan out TV ad spend.”
Sanandres likes that TVSquared allows Untuckit to tag all the people that come to its site from a TV ad and then track their future interactions with the brand. He says it’s not a perfect technology, but thinks it’s accurate—plus or minus about 5%. “It finds the people who saw a TV ad then went online and searched ‘Untuckit,’” he says.
Untuckit’s newest commercial called “All Shapes & Sizes,” which began airing in early May 2018, has been “very successful,” Untuckit says, in part as a result of using TVSquared technology.
“All of our spending on TV has to be ROI positive,” Sanandres says of the results of TV advertising without being more specific. TV is one of Untuckit’s top three advertising channels in terms of media spend, he adds.
Untuckit operates 36 stores and plans to open an additional 17 this year. But online still reigns when it comes to sales—75% of Untuckit’s sales still happen online, Sanandres says.
Retailers and TV advertising
While digital marketing certainly is booming, many online retailers and brands are factoring in the mass exposure more traditional media channels like TV can deliver. The largest retailers spend the most on TV advertising, with Walmart Inc., No. 3 in the Top 1000, leading the charge and spending nearly $410 million on U.S. TV ads during the 11-month period spanning January to November last year, according to Kantar Media data.
Amazon.com Inc., the best digital marketer in e-commerce in the Best Digital Marketers in E-Commerce Report and No. 1 in the Top 1000, buys TV advertising throughout the year, including air time during the last three Super Bowls—the priciest air time of the year. Amazon’s 90-second 2018 Super Bowl ad starred celebrities and promoted Amazon’s Alexa virtual-assistant technology and devices. NBC, which aired the Super Bowl, in the run-up to the game said it was selling 30 seconds of air time for about $5 million.
E-retailers in high-growth—and highly competitive—verticals also are using mass-media channels to court customers. For instance, in the meal-kit category, it’s more a question of who isn’t advertising on TV to acquire customers. Hello Fresh Group (No. 84), Blue Apron (No. 67), Plated, Sun Basket (376), Home Chef (No. 212) and Marley Spoon were all active TV advertisers in 2017.
Allison Enright contributed to this article.