Analyzing $12 billion dollars of actual ad spend and tracking ROI shows surprising results

Author: Paul Dughi

Accenture Strategy released a three year study from its database of $12 billion dollars in marketing expenditures. It tracked ad buys in 6 categories from 20 major national brands. It’s one of the most in-depth, real-life studies, of what happens to brands that shift dollars from television to digital, either in isolation or in combination.

This isn’t theoretical dollars, or marketing studies, these are tracking ROI on more than $12 billion dollars in ad buys and consumer purchases. Real data.

The results? Dramatic.

The study was funded by ABC and released at the upfront presentation this week by Geri Wang, president of ABC sales.

SOURCE: Accenture study of $12 billion dollars in ad spending

The big takeaway is that moving too many dollars from TV to digital is a mistake. But there is a balance that not only works, but enhances the long-term “halo effect” on the brand. Search, display, and short-form video show initially high ROI, but marginal returns as spending increases. So there appears to be a ceiling to digital buys. There is a point of diminishing returns.

“Marketers must be mindful of the limits to the ability of search, display, and short-form video to absorb incremental investment and consequently strike the right balance between those channels and Multiplatform TV.” — Accenture study

The study also tempers the ROI attributed to digital. Without multiplatform TV buys, the ROI that’s attributed to the digital buys shrunk very significantly. In other words, digital was getting credit, but it was TV that was driving the ROI in digital.

And if you think there’s no difference between pre-rolls or latching onto short-form videos on places like YouTube, you’re wrong. Long-form digital video (like broadcast TV shows) ROI outperforms short-form video by a factor of more than 1.5x.

“Multiplatform TV deserves much more credit than we had been getting when you look at the metrics that long-form video actually drives.” — Geri Wang, president of ABC Sales.

As we know, it’s often that “last attribution” credit consumers give. Ask them where they found you and they might answer Google. But they found you on Google because they already knew your brand and trusted it — a reputation built by your business and your traditional advertising over years. Kind of like the old days when the yellow pages would get credit for directing business. But it was really traditional advertising that brought about Top of Mind awareness that drove people to remember your name and seek you out.

Combining the digital spend with TV advertising expands this halo effect for even greater ROI.

Some definitions:

  • Multiplatform TV: Television-type programming consumed in various ways (broadcast or online, programming and long-form video)
  • Digital: For the purpose of this study, includes search, display, and short-form video.

Here were the main findings:

  1. Multiplatform TV advertising has a significant halo effect on search, display, and short-form video advertising within integrated campaigns. On average, 18% of the Return on Investment (ROI) that’s typically attributed to these three channels actually should be credited to Multiplatform TV.
  2. While the average ROI from search, display, and short-form video is high at initial spend levels relative to Multiplatform TV, marginal returns for Digital diminish rapidly as spend increases. In fact, the inflection point happens sooner than what we initially expected.
  3. Multiplatform TV advertising has a measurable, long-term impact on driving incremental sales. The combined impact of Years 2 and 3 is equivalent to 1.3x the impact measured in Year 1.

You can download the full report here.


Pick up our latest issue of Manager Mint Magazine! Click on a cover below to get started.