The Impact of TV, OTT, and Video on Consumer Search, and Why Pharma Advertisers Should Pay Attention

Consumers today are tapped into multiple devices at once, often switching focus from one device to the next. To maximize your ability to engage with these consumers, marketers need to better understand this journey from one device to another. The goal: To create a smoother consumer experience for your brand, and to be more efficient in how you allocate media dollars.

The Path from TV to Digital

When you reach an audience via TV, you educate the viewer on your product and your messaging. For pharma advertisers, TV generates awareness for your brand — what condition your product treats, possible side effects, and an associated emotion that your product elicits. When you reach your target audience, they’ll connect with this messaging and act to learn more. 

This is where search comes in. 

Consumers will then search the brand name and visit consumer brand pages to find unbiased information about the product they saw on TV. In fact, consumers are twice as likely to visit a health information site for treatment information before a brand site.1 These brand pages educate the consumer on product information, possible side effects, and updates on new developments. So while TV provides top-of-funnel brand awareness, search provides consumers with an opportunity for deeper understanding and action as it relates to a brand.  

A case study (image above) recently conducted on showed a 200% spike in brand traffic on immediately following the branded television campaign, proving the direct correlation between TV and online search behavior.3

This self-sufficiency arms consumers with the information they need to take action and request this brand from their doctor. I

Consumers tend to engage with TV inactively — they allow the content (networks) to control the messaging they receive. Through TV ads, you can reach your consumers while they’re in entertainment mode and in the mindset of inactive consumption.

Search, however, is an active approach to seeking information. Consumers use search to discover specific answers and solutions to their inquiries, which means their mindset is more open to receiving direct messaging.

Considering the OTT Market

As the TV viewing market is shifting from traditional television to now also include OTT (over the top) streaming services and social platforms, and 50% of digital programmatic advertising is coming from video formats, we anticipate that this correlation between “TV” ads and digital search will continue. It could possibly even grow, with the viewing experience on laptops, tablets, and smartphones often being in closer physical proximity to the search keyboard experience. 

eMarketer estimates that brands will increase their connected TV ad budgets by 28% and social video ad budgets by 23.2% in 2020.4 We will be closely monitoring the impact this shift has on search activity, brand page visits, and conversion rates.

Evolving Measurement Methodologies

It’s worth noting that, despite marketers’ increasing efforts to cater to the booming video landscape, there still remains a lack of an effective strategy for video ad measurement. Until we see some real progress in measuring cross-platform campaigns, “individual marketers will work with the available data they have to create proxy metrics for brand awareness, brand consideration, and purchase intent to understand how the video ads they’re buying are affecting their business.“4

We expect to see digital search and brand pages work with the video campaigns to not only help marketers measure the success of a video ad campaign, but to drive consumers from curious to active and intentional. 

Key Takeaways

  • Years of strong data have established the direct relationship between TV spends and the search activity that they drive. As the television model continues to change due to the introduction and growth of OTT, we expect this correlation to continue and even strengthen. 

  • For pharma advertisers, this means that your TV spends will continue to drive active searchers to your brand pages. Brand pages arm the consumer with critical information while they’re in a heavy research mindset, giving your brand message the opportune moment to capture the reader’s attention. 

  • If your main KPI is conversion, make sure you’re allocating an adequate percentage of your media dollars to digital to help push consumers low in the funnel. By surrounding your own consumer brand page or even your competitors’ with your digital ads, you’ll see increased conversion rates and greater consumer request at doctor offices.


1. 2019 Healthline Crohn’s Disease Survey Base Respondents (300), Ulcerative Colitis Survey Base Respondents (400)
2. Cybercitizen Health U.S. 2018 Study. DRG Digital Manhattan Research.
3. Kantar Stradegy, July 2018 – July 2019; Internal Site Metrics, July 2018 – July 2019.
4. Benes, Ross. 2020 TV and Video Trends: Our Predictions for What Will Matter to Marketers, December 18, 2019. eMarketer PRO.

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