Which Quick-Service Restaurants are Winning with TV Ads?

These five brands are leading the competition for consumer's attention.

Arby's Texas Brisket spot resonated with viewers.

Even with the rapidly changing medium of digital advertising, TV remains a powerful tool for quick-service restaurants. Mark Green, chief strategy officer of TVision, a TV and ad measurement company, believes the perfect recipe for capturing viewer attention is ads effectively paired with relevant programming.

“Viewer attention is required for an ad to influence purchase behavior. Knowing this, [quick-service restaurants] should understand what levers are available to increase attention and drive positive outcomes,” he said.

And the company has the data to prove it. Each quarter TVision puts out a report on viewer attention to ads, and tracks which brands and specific spots captured the most total viewer attention.

The restaurants and other companies included were ranked by Creative Attention Score (CAS), a measure defined by a commercial’s ability to break through by normalizing for the average attention of the surrounding commercial pod. CAS isolates the impact of the creative execution on a viewer’s eyes-on-screen attention.

Here were the results:

  • Arby’s: 100.5
  • Pizza Hut: 99.3
  • McDonald’s: 99.2
  • Domino’s: 99.1
  • Little Caesar’s: 99

Arby’s “Texas Brisket” ad was the No. 2 ad overall across all industries polled, with a score of 147.3—the only quick-serve in the top 10. As TVision points out, quick-serves typically run high-volumes of ads, so grabbing the No. 2 spot overall is impressive. Arby’s has made the top five restaurant rankings three straight quarters. Domino’s has done so twice in a row.

Some other notables included: Attentive impressions for TV ads were four times more predictive of quick-service restaurant visits than non-attentive impressions. There was also a measurable wear-out effect as predictive value diminished after repeated airings, suggesting that brands should optimize frequency based on attention to drive better customers.

Green pointed to a Domino’s ad as an example. “The performance of Domino’s 'Pizza Carryout Insurance: Timber' ad is an example of how contextual relevance impacts viewer attention to commercials,” he said. “Over the course of Q1 2018, the ad captured higher attention during sports programming than it did during general programming. In addition, second-by-second analysis showed that sports-viewer attention peaked during action-packed scenes such as a tree falling and a slip-and-fall. These peaks were not significant when the same ad aired on non-sports content.”

TVision spotlighted Domino’s ability to resonate during sports content with fitting creative. “Sports fans’ attention peaked around rough-and-tumble moments of the ad that mirrored the action-packed games they were watching,” the report said. “This includes the 3-6 second mark, when a tree crashed on a delivery driver’s car, and the 20-second mark, right after the driver slipped and fell while carrying the pizza.  Attention also peaked during shots of the Domino’s-branded box (15-17 seconds in) and the fresh Domino’s pizza (12-13 seconds). Domino’s successfully drew attention at moments of peak branding.”

TVision also did a case study on KFC to deep-dive into how attention to an ad influenced customer visits. The study found the viewer attention to TV commercials is four times more predictive of in-store visitors than viewer exposure to ads (meaning did the viewer watch the ad, or was the ad just on in the room). For this study the company married TVision viewer attention data with Sense360 data on in-store visits within a two-day period, across one year, 143 KFCs, and three major markets.

“The implications of the study are significant,” the report said. “It is no longer enough for brands to buy television advertising based on the size and demographics of the viewing audience. They need to use new evaluation techniques, including attention, to determine campaign impact and ROAS.”

TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report