Ron Shachar and Bharat N. Anand

The Effectiveness and Targeting of Television Advertising

Television networks spend about 16% of their revenues on tune-ins, which are previews or advertisements for their own shows. In this paper, we examine two questions. First, what is the informational content in advertising? Second, is this level of expenditures consistent with profit maximization? To answer these questions, we use a new and unique micro-level panel dataset on the television viewing decisions of a large sample of individuals, matched with data on show tune-in advertisements. The difference in effectiveness of advertisements between “regular” shows (about which viewers are assumed to have substantial information a priori) and “specials” (about which they have very little) reveals the value of information in advertisements and the different roles that information can play. The number of exposures for each individual is likely to be correlated with their preferences, since networks target their audiences. We address this endogeneity problem by controlling for observed, and integrating the unobserved, characteristics of individuals, and find that the estimated effects of tune-ins are still large. Finally, we find that actual expenditures on tune-ins closely match the predicted optimal levels of spending.