Study Shows TV’s Impact on Consumer Purchasing Behavior

Apr 15, 2009  •  Post A Comment

With the upfronts just around the corner and the economy in need of stimulation, a new study by the Television Bureau of Advertising offers insights into how advertising affects consumers as they make their way toward purchase decisions.
The report, called “How Media Works: Advertising and the Purchase Funnel,” was conducted by Yankelovich for the TVB to determine the role TV plays as part of a multiplatform environment for advertising.
At a time when economic conditions make it more important than ever to maximize their advertising expenditures to get consumers to purchase their goods, the study examines the role of television advertising in driving consumer actions throughout the purchase decision process; how television interacts with other media platforms and how purchase decisions are made as a result of interactions with media.
The study looks at the “Purchase Funnel,” a continuum that tracks a consumer from when he first becomes aware of a product through his actual purchase.
In between are steps including interest, consideration, desire and store and Web site visits.
Media had an impact on 80% of the awareness phase of the funnel and declined to 53% at the transaction phase. Two consistently strong contributors in most categories and purchase funnel phases are television and the Internet.
“The purchase funnel has been widely accepted as an important way of looking at how consumers move toward a purchase decision, but up to now very little research existed to determine the impact of advertising,” said Susan Cuccinello, senior VP for research at the TVB. “This study breaks new ground and the advertising community has already expressed great interest in seeing our results.”
Through the entire process, television makes a major contribution, beginning with awareness, where it makes its greatest impact.
When asked what media boosted awareness, 43% of those questioned said television. Television was named by 40% for increasing interest and 35% for increasing purchase consideration. Television made 33% want to purchase, 32% visit a Web site or store and 26% ultimately make a purchase.
In most cases, television’s contribution is more than all other media combined.
The findings challenge the popular assumptions that traditional media—particularly television—affects mainly the top of the funnel, or awareness, and that interactive media is effective at the funnel’s bottom, with purchase being the last click.
Yankelovich found that TV was the most impactful medium as far as awareness, consideration, preference and purchase are concerned. The Internet was second in each case.
The study measured responses to ads across 15 categories, including vehicles or auto dealers, financial services, restaurants, insurance, telecommunications, home improvement and health care.
For most product categories, television made the biggest contribution to increased awareness of the product being advertised. But the size of its contribution varied by category.
For example, in the entertainment category, TV contributed 48% to awareness and 51% to interest and had an impact on purchase among 39% of those surveyed.
For automotive, TV generated awareness for 44% of those surveyed and interest among 40%. Just 22% said TV impacted their purchase decision.
To conduct the survey, Yankelovich asked consumers about television ads that had made an impression on them. Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 10, 2009, 3,002 consumers who had seen a TV ad in the past two months were questioned. The survey measured what action was taken after seeing the ad and whether ads for the same product or service were seen in other media. They also were asked which media most increased awareness and interest or prompted action.


  1. This report on TVB’s “Advertising and the Purchase Funnel” study is much appreciated, and excellent. However, one clarification needs to be made. The story states that in the automotive category, “just 22% said TV impacted their purchase decision.” This implies that TV didn’t motivate the consumer at the purchase phase. In fact television’s 22% was higher than all other media combined (17%). Our point was that it is critical to reach the consumer higher in the purchase funnel; if you don’t get them into the showroom, you don’t have the chance to make the sale.
    Susan Cuccinello and Jack Poor

  2. It would be helpful to measure the continuing or closing role of TV advertising across media — traditional and emerging non-traditional. Given TV advertising can be persuasive, its effectiveness is probably enhanced by out-of-home video networks, especially in-store and in-showroom, given their proximity to the purchase decision.

  3. This report is interesting but I question the fairness. The study was done by a pro-TV group. I find it hard to believe that TV impacts the shopper within that “last mile” before purchase as effectively as targeted radio advertising. Studies have shown radio is usually the last medium consumers are exposed to prior to making a purchase. The article talks about how television interacts with other media platforms but there is no mention of television’s interaction with radio. The Web is mentioned but that makes sense since the study and report have a pro-video slant.

  4. Amazing. Yankelovich talked ONLY to people who watched TV ads – and, among this TV oriented sample, only 40% said TV increased their interest in purchase. In other words, 60% DIDN”T say TV increased their interest – and they were watching TV ads. No wonder TV is in trouble.

  5. @ John – TV as an advertising medium is far from being in trouble… I direct you to this article: http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com/2009/03/facts-still-matter-death-and-life-of.html
    Facts still matter.

  6. What are the demographic and psychographic brake down of the people studied?

  7. respected sir,
    i am a student of business adminstration and trying to conduct a research on impact of tv ads on consumer attitude in pakistan.
    so,i need some guidline from your side if you easy.

  8. Television will always win the awareness contest. Its role further down the purchase funnel is more problematic, varying primarily by product category and the level of consumer involvement in the purchase decision.

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