Many advertisers are reluctant to shift a large proportion of their advertising budgets to the Internet because they still view television advertising as the main vehicle for building a brand. Using a unique and rich data set comprising 20 campaigns across a variety of industries, we demonstrate that Internet ads perform on par with TV ads on the brand-building metrics that advertisers use and trust.
We extend traditional brand-message recall measurement to facilitate comparisons between Internet formats and television by supplementing brand-message surveys conducted during the campaign with a set of pre-campaign surveys to control for pre-existing brand knowledge. A matching procedure ensures the pre-campaign sample is comparable to the in-flight one. We find that accounting for differences in pre-existing brand knowledge is paramount in obtaining valid comparisons across advertising formats, as individuals exposed to Internet display ads have significantly lower levels of pre-existing brand knowledge than television viewers. Without considering the differences in these “initial conditions,” TV advertising appears to be more effective than advertising on the Internet, but once the pre-existing differences among media formats are taken into account, the brand recall lift measures for Internet ads are statistically indistinguishable from comparable television lift measures.