A June 2011 study from Nominet, one of the world’s largest internet domain registries, showed that 61 percent of UK television ads feature a URL.

There are many reasons brands are adding a URL call to action to their TV commercials. First, brands are providing viewers a way to find out more information about a product and give them a direct path to purchase. URLs in TV ads also allow brands to track the response to their offline advertising. Additionally, adding a URL makes sense as more consumers are using different types of media while watching tv. A recent study by Mr. Youth showed that only 3 percent of college student internet users watch television in isolation, without using their mobile phones or laptops simultaneously. Eighty percent used at least two devices while watching television.

In 2009, Facebook released vanity URLs, which are customized URLs that brands can shorten to make easier for consumers to recall and search for. This led a handful of innovative brands (e.g., VW, Vitamin Water, and Carnival Cruise Lines) testing TV spots that encouraged viewers to visit their Facebook pages as opposed to their traditional .com sites.

Driving users to Facebook instead of the .com might not be the answer for every brand, but brands that are testing this tactic are seeing some benefits:

  • Instead of a one-time visit to a site, users are hopefully “liking” the brand after visiting, and therefore opting into direct, ongoing communication with the brand
  • There is an earned media effect – users who don’t see the commercial are potentially seeing their friend’s “likes” after they’ve seen the spot
  • Demographic information (age range, country, city, language) is collected through Facebook Insights, which can help brands better understand who is seeing the television spot (which then can be used for future media placement)
  • For the time being, it’s still unique and signaling innovation

There are two very important best practices brands must adhere to when including their Facebook page in their TV ads.

  1. Simply showing the Facebook logo on television or in print is not enough. Facebook search is weak therefore, if brands do not include their community name or a vanity URL in the ad, there is a good chance the consumer won’t find the page
  2. Obviously brands must have content on the page for users to engage with once they have arrived. CoverGirl did a great job with this in January when it launched the “My CoverGirl” program.  The television ads closed by asking viewers to “join the movement on Facebook”. This resulted in over 22k “likes” after the first spot aired (featuring Taylor Swift). CoverGirl augmented the campaign on Facebook over the rest of the month with a contest, free products, and a charity component. The commercial, combined with the strong programming for Facebook, resulted in the average “likes” per day for CoverGirl climbing from 1.5k to 8.4k.


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