VAB ‘What’s App’ning!’ Report Finds TV Ad Spend Boosts Mobile App Traffic

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VAB What's App'ning

A new study, What’s App’ningfinds the explosive mobile apps category gets a significant boost in traffic from TV advertising. The study shows a 77% correlation between TV advertising and traffic for 60 popular mobile apps.

The report—the third in the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) series—shows the connection between TV ads and online traffic.

What’s App’ning looked at 60 mobile apps across 10 categories—games, ecommerce/retail, media, sports, tech/telco, financial, restaurants, travel, music and education—between October 2014 and December 2015, using comScore, Nielsen and Think Gaming data.

“In the past 12 months, a number of app makers have directly attributed an increase in traffic and revenue to their TV investment,” Danielle Delauro, SVP strategic sales insights at VAB, told brandchannel. “As a result, the number of apps advertising on TV has reached an all-time high, with almost $1 billion in ad spending in 2015.”

According to the report, Delauro added, “We saw that unique visitors went up 25% when TV was on and dropped 20% when TV didn’t run. As the majority of these apps are millennial-driven, this tight correlation between TV spend and app traffic reinforces the connection millennials have with TV brands.”

Some brand specifics cited include:

  • Pet Rescue Saga saw a 40% difference, averaging 2.5 million unique visitors when spending $1.1 million/month, fell to 1.8 million unique visitors the months when ads didn’t run.
  • Game of War, which typically spends $9 million/month on TV, saw its unique visitors fall 25% from 2.5 million to 2 million when TV ads didn’t run.
  • Clash of Clans, which averages $4.5 million/month in TV ads, lost 17% of unique visitors when off-air, with the total falling from 11.9 million to 10.2 million visitors.

VAB What's App'ning

Among new mobile apps, Blossom Blast launched in September 2015 with traffic too low to register on comScore, but within a month of TV advertising, the app counted 2.3 million unique visitors. Another newcomer, Mobile Strike, garnered 1.9 million unique visitors within a month of advertising on TV, and in April 2016 reached estimated revenue of $12 million/month.

brandchannel asked Delauro about the key  takeaways of the study. “The main takeaway is that TV sells more stuff. That’s the most important measure of success to all marketers. The fact that we found a 77% correlation between TV advertising and traffic across 60 popular apps in 10 categories is significant,” she noted. “It says this is an across-the-board phenomenon. And it’s especially important as people spend more time with fewer apps—typically 80% of time with only three apps. They’re not sharing what they’re not using, so marketers increasingly need a reliable lever for awareness and trial. That’s clearly TV.”

The more subtle takeaway, Delauro added, is, “TV prompts millennials to take action. We looked into apps because it’s predominantly a millennial-driven category, and we wanted to see the TV-traffic connection. We actually found the tightest association in the most millennial-skewed app category of all—gaming, which showed an 86% correlation between TV spend and app traffic.”

“TV is the lightswitch for digital traffic,” said Sean Cunningham, President & CEO of the VAB, said in a press release. “Time and again, across categories, we find that digital products and platforms rely on TV advertising to deliver customers in real scale. And the return in sales is always exponentially greater than the ad spending.”

VAB What's App'ning

brandchannel asked Delauro if any change in that systemic status quo is imminent. “TV will remain the primary driver of audience at scale for the foreseeable future,” she replied. “In fact, TV’s unique ability to trigger an action—whether driving people to sites or stores—is only going to grow. No other medium can match the combination of scale, consumer commitment—125 hours per month spent with TV brands across screens—and world-class advertising environment of TV.”

As for social media’s influence, Delauro said, “Social media contributes more to use and repeat than to mass awareness and trial. TV delivers the audience scale and commitment necessary to drive a substantial number of millennials to download and purchase an app. Then social media reinforces the brands, as users share their experiences.”

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