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  • Writer's pictureNick Lansley

TV advertising….works!

It’s all very easy for us digital internet types to get sniffy about how TV advertising is old hat with its scatter-gun approach to marketing and no direct feedback that it works.

I was in this mood when I chatted with’s marketing team on the eve of the first TV commercial for the iPhone Tesco Groceries scanning feature last Thursday.

I have to say that they do tolerate me, do marketing. They just smiled and asked me to wait and see.

The TV commercial has been airing since Thursday and…

…now we’re in the top 5 list of most downloaded UK apps on iTunes. Oh, and my colleague Omar took a copy of the various API server logs and drew graphs. The graphs showed load levels where the app had been in communication with our servers. The load level graphs had some big peaks, and the peaks matched with the timings of the TV commercials.

That’s right – the 40-second commercial basically gets people to scan the barcodes on products – and, when they watch the commercial, they pick up their iPhones immediately and start doing just that! The peaks appear not just from showing the advert on ITV1 (the UK’s most-watched commercial TV channel) but even on less-viewed channels – both free and pay TV – on which our commercial is being shown.

I love the thought of thousands of people sat in their living rooms watching TV, viewing the ad which persuades them to pick up their nearby iPhone immediately and … well… scan something.

I wonder what other customers might find to scan as they get overwhelmed with barcoding desire at the instruction of the commercial? Since the server logs are deliberately anonymised, it has just struck me that I should find out what products were being scanned. For example, as I look around my living room I can spot several grocery items with barcodes – bars of dark chocolate, a DVD of comedian Dara O’Briain I received for Christmas, and a box of Tesco value tissues. Would watching the commercial just make me the scan them? The evidence from the log peaks suggest that I would!

Make no mistake – the lesson that us sniffy web 2.0 digital types need to learn is this: After 60 years, TV advertising still works.

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