Chipotle wants proof its TV commercials drive burrito sales

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A Chipotle Mexican Grill in Indianapolis, IN.
A Chipotle Mexican Grill in Indianapolis, IN. Credit: iStock

Chipotle is looking to prove its TV commercials actually drive sales of tacos and burritos.

As TV networks work to compete with Google and Facebook, the industry has been on a mission to prove that airing a commercial will lead to some sort of business result for marketers—the holy grail being, of course, driving a purchase.

While many network groups have been testing various attribution models, thus far they have been limited to guaranteeing other forms of business outcomes, like website visits or test drives.

Turner struck a seven-week deal with Chipotle to guarantee commercials that run on its networks, which include TBS and TNT, will generate a sales lift. The deal was facilitated through Chipotle's agency Mediahub, a division of MullenLowe Group.

Turner will have to provide make-goods—essentially free credits—if there isn't a sales lift.

The goal is to change the way TV is transacted, which for decades has been based almost solely on Nielsen age and gender metrics. But while this is an important step forward, we are still in the infancy of TV attribution.

For one, it's been a challenge to get marketers to open their books on sales data, even to their own agencies, according to one media buyer.

There's also still a debate over whether TV's best use case is really as a targeting vehicle. While linear ratings continue to erode, TV still provides valuable reach, and for many marketers serves as a top-of-the-funnel medium that drives branding and awareness.

Still, TV needs to do something as digital behemoths rapidly encroach on its ad dollars. And as more content becomes internet-delivered, TV is turning into a one-to-one medium, meaning it can act more like digital.

Increasingly, marketers want proof their commercials really work.

During the past upfront, when networks look to secure a bulk of their ad commitments for the next season, A&E Networks said it struck five deals that guaranteed outcomes. It's using a model created by analytics firm Data Plus Math.

AMC Networks and Discover have also been testing the model.

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