Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

How to: Promote Your Business on TV In Front of Thousands of Potential Customers for $100 With Google TV Ads

Mitchell Harper / 3 min read

Have you heard of Google TV ads? For just a few hundred bucks and with absolutely zero video creation skills you can advertise your business on major TV networks alongside American icons like Ford, McDonalds and Macy’s.

You simply sign up for Google TV Ads (through Google AdWords), upload your TV ad (which you can create for $300 using Spotmixer’s step-by-step wizard) and within 24 hours it will start running on the TV networks you select at the specific times you choose. Sweet!

Here’s how Google TV ads works:

Using the Spotmixer step-by-step ad creation wizard you can create a customized TV ad based on one of their many templates. You can add your logo, images and video or just choose from their stock library.

So how does Google get your ad on TV? They’ve partnered with a few of the second tier cable networks who have a combined reach of over 50 million households throughout the country. You might see a Starbucks ad followed by an MGD ad followed by your ad.

You can spend just $100 to get your ad in front of 10,000 viewers. Sure it might be at 2am on a Tuesday, but if you’re creative enough and can work some really good benefits into your ad then you can definitely make your money back – and then some.

If you can shell out a few thousand bucks you can run your ad 7 nights a week between 12am and 3am on major TV networks. Take it up to $5,000 – $10,000 and you’re talking almost prime-time spots (11pm onwards) on channels like Discovery, Travel, Fox, MSNBC and others. You can choose which channels your ad appears on, at what time and on which days.

They say TV advertising is dying and Seth Godin says it’s a form of interruption marketing, but I still say it’s worth testing, especially if you sell “mainstream” products like clothes, shoes, computers, vitamins, etc. Here’s how I’d do it:

  1. Register a new domain name so you can exclusively track your TV ads success. For example, if you sell t-shirts online at CoolTShirts.com then register BuyCoolTShirts.com and use that as the website link you show in your TV ads. First, compare different hosting providers like HostGator vs GoDaddy and Bluehost for example. Then setup a domain forward at your domain name registrar (such as GoDaddy) and make the redirect a Google Analytics trackable link.
  2. Setup Google Analytics tracking for orders and traffic so you can see which visitors ordered as a result of seeing your TV ad. See this blog post for more info.
  3. Promote your best selling products at the top of your home page using BigCommerce’s built-in banner creation tool (under the marketing menu in your control panel).
  4. Run your TV ad for 3-5 consecutive nights on the SAME channels EVERY NIGHT. Repetition is important – they say it takes the average person 7 views of your ad before they take action.
  5. Use Google Analytics to track your sales from the TV ad. If you made back more than you spent then great, ramp up your budget and run another 3-5 day trial. If not, try a different channel and repeat step 4. If you fail again then choose a different Spotmixer ad template with a stronger call to action or a better benefit (remember, sell on benefits – i.e. what your products can do for the buy – and not features, i.e. what the product has)

The idea is dead simple and is the same as any other form of direct marketing. If you can make back more than you spend (even by just a few dollars) then ramp your budget significantly. As long as you turn a slight profit then the sky’s the limit.

Remember to factor in the lifetime value of each customer – even if you just break even on your TV ad through new customers ordering from you once, if you have a good autoresponder and monthly newsletter setup (in which you send out discount coupons and info on your cool new products) then they’ll come back for a second, third or fourth order and will tell their friends too, so you could end up making back $3,000 (or more) for every $1,000 you invest in TV advertising.

The key is to pique the viewer’s curiosity with your TV ad. Make it different. Even make it ugly and unprofessional. Include your photo or a home-recorded video of you explaining why people should buy from you. They’ll do a double take and ask themselves “who the heck is this guy/gal”. Then they’ll visit your online store and if your prices are good and they need what you sell then they’ll buy.

It really is that simple and there’s no reason to over complicate things.

Will your ad work? Who knows, but the last time I was in our Austin office I was suffering extreme jet lag (after 18 hours of flying from Sydney->LA->Dallas->Austin) and at 2am I saw an (obviously) amateur TV ad for an online store selling marketing podcasts. I jumped on their website and $140 later I had purchased 5 podcasts which I listened to on my flight back home to Sydney a few weeks later.

Sure I appreciate amateur marketing efforts more than some people, but hey, they got me as a customer so their TV ad did its job.


Mitchell Harper

Mitchell Harper

Mitch is the co-founder of Bigcommerce. He loves helping small businesses succeed through the use of simple software and regularly keynotes on topics including e-commerce, entrepreneurship, Saas and mostly importantly, how to build a great company culture. Today he runs the company alongside co-founder Eddie and our 300+ person team with offices in Sydney, San Francisco and Austin. He can be emailed at [email protected]

View all posts by Mitchell Harper

7 comments on “How to: Promote Your Business on TV In Front of Thousands of Potential Customers for $100 With Google TV Ads

  1. Sharyn Murray on

    Great tip and something to add…

    Check out your local community television station for videographers and producers. You can get a creative video made for next to nothing. Be sure to view someone’s reel (resume) first. The level of talent at community television runs the gamut.

  2. Mitchell Harper
    Mitchell Harper on

    Hi Pamela. We’re nearly done with very tight Mailchimp integration which will give you the ability to automatically add newsletter subscribers and filtered customer lists to Mailchimp. You can then create autoresponders in Mailchimp which will close the loop. We’ll be launching our SmartFilter system which lets you add customers to your different Mailchimp lists based on rules and segments – it’s very powerful stuff. We’re hoping to have some screenshots on the blog in the coming 2 weeks so we can show you what it’s all about. Thanks for hanging in there.

  3. Pamela on

    Am a new customer of Big Commerce– just switched from another provider– and just stumbled across your blog.

    This is a really useful idea, but the key to making it work long term is based on autoresponders, an area where I find Big Commerce to be somewhat lacking. I didn’t switch expecting full-fledged AR capabilities; I went with another service who can use the automated store purchase emails to set up a list. BUT, as far as I can tell, Big Commerce doesn’t have a functionality that allows me to set up automated purchase emails by product. It’s just a global automated email for the store, which means it gets dumped into one “Store purchase list” on the backend.

    The usefulness of the campaign you’ve suggested is somewhat diminished by this missing feature, since I couldn’t create a TV ad purchase list to send customized offers to without doing a manual batch CSV upload for each product (basically a nightmare to keep current).

  4. John on


    I love these tips you give us. They are brilliant. Some people would expect us to pay for these as extras.

    Always interesting reading and I’m sure they will help my BC store sell more.

    Thanks again


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Less Development. More Marketing.

Let us future-proof your backend. You focus on building your brand.