Growing Apps through TV

The pairing of app-based businesses and television advertising may seem as unlikely as General Motors and classified advertising.

But for app-based businesses to grow, the scale of television can be exactly what they need.

Rising companies in this sector often build their business through search and other digital methods. If they’re successful, though, they reach a point of diminishing returns. They’ve exhausted their tried-and-true tactics, and they are confronted by the question:

How are we going to grow?

Television advertising provides growth possibilities because of a paradox: It is a mass medium that has become increasingly adept at targeting. As a result, an app-based business can reach more and different people than it may have through its initial marketing efforts. A TV buy can target with precision and create efficiencies; it has hundreds of cable channels to choose from, each focusing on a different demographic.

To consider television advertising, however, companies need to get past some common misconceptions about this strategy, including:

1. It’s too expensive.
2. A mass medium can’t reach our particular market.
3. It’s not sufficiently measurable.  
4. It’s a huge leap from the online to offline world.

All these reasons make sense if you’re talking about a 30-second prime time network spot. But that’s not what driving response is all about.

We’re seeing an increasing number of advertisers begin with less expensive, more targeted and more measurable television strategies. To take advantage of the ever-increasing number of cable channels and digital options, advertisers are creating commercials better suited to a fragmented advertising eco-system. 

While this advertising comes in many forms, it usually features a longer-length commercial with a response vehicle such as a URL. It also relies on extensive testing of spots and analysis of results before a rollout is launched. This approach is highly flexible and can be tailored to a wide range of budgets, markets and analytics.

And perhaps most significantly, measurable television advertising eases the transition from online to offline. While a two-year-old app-based business may not be ready to advertise on the Super Bowl, it may well be ready for a strategy that emphasizes analytics and testing—not a whole lot different from what they were doing online. The difference, of course, is that television reaches a new and larger audience using the power of a commercial—this is how they expand the customer base for their app.

Finally, to determine if a company is ready for television advertising, they need to see if they meet the following two criteria:

1. Back end systems in place to establish metrics
2. The ability to handle the volume of leads/sales generated

If these criteria are met, then a modestly-budgeted, metrics-oriented, test-oriented strategy can really help the company grow. For app-based businesses used to beta-testing products, television advertising isn’t as big a leap as it might appear.