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Case Study: Cable TV Buy vs Google Adwords

I recently did an interesting campaign in which we ran very similar messaging for a lead generation campaign on both Cable TV & Google Adwords.  This was in the automotive niche.  I have data on how each source performed and figured i’d share it with you since it’s pretty interesting.

Cable TV
Total Buy: $50,000
Total Spots Aired: 9,045
Cost Per Spot: $5.58
Total “Clicks” From Cable Spot To Landing Page: 1,235
Total Leads: 220
Cost Per “Click”: $40.48
Cost Per Lead: $227.27

Google Adwords
Total Spend: $8,500
Total Clicks: 765
Total Leads: 155
Cost Per “Click”: $11.11
Cost Per Lead: $54.83

So the results here prove interesting but not totally unexpected.  This is a high value niche in which CPC’s on Adwords are pretty darn expensive, yet, Adwords performed much much better than Cable TV did.  Although the Cable TV did create volume of leads it did so at a cost per lead almost 5x that of Google Adwords.  The sensible move at this point would be to reallocate Cable TV spend to Adwords/Internet spend.  My opinion is is that Cable TV, although it still does reach a good audience will never, ever be more effective than Internet Marketing.  Adwords in particular converts extremely well since the traffic has intent behind it, but i’d venture to say that for this exact same niche, almost any internet traffic source will produce cheaper leads then Cable TV will, even if the conversion rate is signifigantly lower then Adwords traffic.

Hope you guys found this interesting, if so, please share it around 🙂

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Published inCase StudiesLocal Online Advertising


  1. From other TV buyers this sounds the same. It’s not a practical lead generation medium compared to Adwords. Thanks for the share.

  2. But everything is depends upon the business criteria.If they want to market people who are not used computers & internet, they must need to go with TV Ads,

  3. Hammad Hammad

    As more advertisers realize this comparison, costs for online marketing will increase to the level of TV ads but luckily there are many traffic channels to pursue.


  4. But how did you track ‘clicks’ from the TV spot? A URL unique to the spot? Many people might have just Googled the company’s name instead, could have missed some leads.

  5. What times where you running the commercials? I have clients in an industry which majority of advertisement is done on TV. This data is great to see to show some of the higher spend clients that the money is better spent on more internet traffic.

  6. @Justin – Times were throughoutt the entire day and night

    @Georgie – The landing page wasnt even indexed in google so there was no organic traffic. We were able to track the cable vs internet.

  7. Meet your customers where they are. Since the clicks from adwords were from people who where already online, that seems to make sense you’d get the best results. With the cable ad, maybe sending them to a free recorded message or just outright telling them to go the the business might have worked better.

  8. @Phil – Even though this is at the local level the business only really exists online….These lead numbers include phone calls.

  9. Brandon, was this a cable banner like you see on the channel guide or an actual comercial?

  10. Scott Scott

    What was the conversion rate difference between the two on the actual leads?

  11. Daf Daf

    All leads are not created equal. We have a cpl of 44 for TV ads, but we are missing the average order value here to have a thorough analysis. If in this case, TV customers are part of a demographic that converts at a higher level, or purchases more than the average AdWords prospect, a higher cpl may not be a bad thing in itself

  12. Surprising results, but I have to wonder along with john ward what type of ads were ran.

  13. […] Ad Hustler: This blog features the candid musings of a self-described “Serial Internet Entrepreneur,” touching on a wide range of topics that will be of interest to those looking to make more money online. Check out the recent post on Cable TV spend vs. Google AdWords. […]

  14. It’s in fact very complicated in this full of
    activity life to listen news on TV, thus I simply use the web for that
    purpose, and obtain the hottest news.

  15. I’m sorry but this post is extremely misleading. You make no mention of the agency or direct ad provider you are purchasing from.

    I work over at Comcast Spotlight and in my most recent deal signed, earlier this day a local small business here in West Palm Beach, FL (considered an expensive market) purchased 181,178 impressions with 176,420 being interactive web ads ads 4,758 of those being actual commercial spots on channels such as CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, AMC, MTV and others for a mere $7,699.00.

    If anyone is interested in more facts about advertising on television please contact me at (561) 215-8831

    Ladarris Matthew Sain
    Account Executive
    Comcast Spotlight

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