Feb. 7, 2017
By Kevin O'Reilly, CTO, TVSquared
Dining out is part of our DNA, but times are changing for the fast casual sector.
— Over a 3-month period, 56 percent of consumers visited fast casual restaurants, 71 percent frequented casual-dining restaurants and an astounding 93 percent went to QSRs, according to IDC. When looking at millennials — who spend 44 percent of their food dollars on eating out — these numbers rose to 69 percent, 80 percent, and 96 percent respectively.
What has changed significantly over the last few years, is the way people find out about and access dining options. This includes increases in online ordering, food-to-go, and home delivery changing the face of the fast casual industry.
While marketing used to be geared mainly towards driving footfall, its use for the promotion of digital activity is now just as important. To reach the right consumers in the right places and at the times that will drive the maximum response, many brands are adopting complementary media strategies — using online and offline channels together. In particular, leveraging TV to drive digital activity, like search, web traffic, and app activity.
Super-sizing digital response
The fast casual customer journey is fairly simple, but the emergence of digital — especially mobile — has added another, natural touchpoint for consumers.
The fast casual industry is unique from other verticals because restaurant proximity is critical. The immediacy of need is also high, with the majority of decisions made within an hour of purchase. Because of these factors, you can see how search becomes a defining touchpoint, playing a key role in menu, price, and location research.
Since 2014, digital ordering has grown 300 percent faster than dine-in-traffic, and online ordering is expected to surpass offline orders in the next decade. The mobile component of this is growing even faster and is estimated to become a $38 billion industry by 2020.
With digital playing an increasing role in the lives of consumers (especially millennials), how are fast casual brands reevaluating their media strategies to better reach them to promote not only traditional foot traffic but online activity too?
TV's digital kicker effect
Advertisers are increasingly adopting complementary media strategies to reach these tech-savvy consumers. Rather than focus on either digital or TV, marketers are looking at media more holistically to find out how offline and online channels influence and impact each other throughout the customer journey.
One of the most notable examples of this is with TV acting as a driver of digital activity. A whopping 87 percent of viewers have a second-screen device in-hand or nearby when watching TV. The implications of this for brands is huge:
TV drives search: TV has been proven to influence branded search by up to 80 percent.
Search drives local: The search term “near me” has doubled in the past year, with 50 percent of consumers looking for locations within five miles. Google also found that 76 percent of those who did a local search on their smartphones visited a location within 24 hours.
TV drives website traffic: TV ads have been found to be one of the top (if not, the top) generators of website traffic. A CableNation report even found a direct correlation between TV spend and website traffic for companies.
TV drives app activity: The role of mobile apps is becoming more popular for fast casual consumers and, TV has also proven to promote app install and in-app activity. One study found that TV ads resulted in app-install uplifts of between 56-74 percent.
And before you say that TV is a dying medium, you're very much mistaken. The average American still watches more than four hours of TV a day. And while millennials watch significantly less TV vs. older generations, according to Nielsen, they still consume 15+ hours a week — and that number increases as they start families.
Maximize digital with TV
To ensure TV ads have the maximum impact on online activity, I often tell fast casual brands (and companies across industries) that there are two things to keep in mind:
Measure the performance of TV campaigns
In the past, the impact of TV advertising was difficult to measure accurately, but today — with the right technology — it is possible to identify key points in the customer journey that are influenced by TV. Fast casual brands can measure the short-term impact of their TV ads, including search and app activity, online orders, coupon downloads and website visits. They can also accurately determine the long-term performance of TV ads, such as the impact on local foot traffic, even weeks after the spots aired.
Optimize TV campaigns for digital response
Once fast casual brands understand how TV ads are performing, they can make in-flight changes to increase campaign efficiency. Timing is particularly crucial. For instance, the knowledge that search activity relating to pancake restaurants peaks on Saturday and Sunday mornings, can be used to structure media buys around both the most effective days and dayparts.
Brands can also use performance insights to change networks, programs or creatives mid-campaign to boost engagement. The same insights could also be used to inform planning — predicting how TV ads will perform and designing effective strategies — as well as to prove TV's impact on ROI and justify future spend.
In a rapidly evolving sector, fast casual brands must make the most of the tools and technologies available to engage the right audience, at the right time, in the right place. Using TV advertising to boost online activity is a highly effective strategy for driving multi-screening, impulse visits, online ordering, and attracting consumers into their restaurants — and capturing a bigger "share of stomach" in the process.
Cover photo: iStock