Digital Media vs Television Advertising

Why the transition to digital advertising? What’s so bad about TV ad buying? Which platform serves the purpose better?

In the United Kingdom television advertising spend had increased from £3,424 million in 2010 to £4,407m in 2016 – this is comparable to pure-play digital display in which, according to Statista, spending on digital display ads increased from £1,105 to £3,178 in 2016 – this is an example of how significant digital advertising has now become.

With the advent of social media and increased access to the internet, consumers now rely on various connected devices (smartphone, tablet, iPad, portable console etc.), when researching information about a product or service. Smartphones have slowly but surely become a significant resource throughout many phases of the consumer sales funnel, i.e., awareness, consideration, evaluation, conversion/purchase. Consumers now look to online resources when browsing for local businesses: up to 83% of consumers now turn to search engines.

The Decline of TV Ad Buying

Television (TV) has become a traditional medium in majority of households worldwide, furthermore businesses have used this medium to promote services and products since shortly after the debut of the TV in 1939.

As ubiquitous as the TV is, there are many pitfalls and limitations that accompany buying media space on the medium. One of the more obvious drawbacks of buying media spots on TV is the cost: running an ad in even a small, local market, it could cost from $15,000 – $50,000; producing a quality commercial, on the other hand, can be expensive as £350,000 which is well beyond the budget of most small businesses. These expenses are mainly due to production costs, videographers, writers, actors etc.

For an advert to be effective it must be run frequently – otherwise, customers are unlikely to remember such a brief message. Unlike other forms of media (such as print, or digital), when choosing TV, or radio, as a medium you risk customers forgetting your brand message. Running a TV commercial means displaying your message for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, in this short period, a brand must capture and entertain an audience, whilst informing customers of the brand message and values. Ideally an audience should be exposed to an ad three to six times before they remember it: this contributes even more towards high costs.

TV Advertising  vs. Digital Ad Buying

Over the past five years an increase in digital media ad spend, has resulted in significant changes towards TV, and more traditional marketing budgets. In 2018 TV ad spend in the US is predicted to fall 0.5% to $69.87 billion, while money spent on digital ad buying will rise to 18.7% this year, to roughly $107.30 billion.

Is TV Still Top?

Even still, buying digital media also has its shortcomings. With the advent of so many different marketing channels, choosing where to spend money online can be a complex decision to make. There are several social media platforms to choose from, and various forms of online advertisement to choose from, i.e., display advertising (ads appear where your target audience is most likely to roam); and search ads (spots appear where a customer is looking for a product or service offered).

The number of TV viewers in the US is forecasted to drop 0.2% to 297.7 million viewers in 2019. However, there is still some benefit to running TV ads over digital media. TV display ads have mass coverage, thus make it a lot easier to reach target consumers that are apart of the local audience; TV and other traditional media is a lot easier for consumers to digest and understand – as most audiences are familiar with such an advertising strategy. In addition, the ephemeral nature of digital media means it struggles to compete with traditional media.

Another major concern is that errors in planning (i.e. choosing keywords etc.), for digital ad spend, can have a detrimental effect on business. Errors such as: ineffective targeting; neglecting a bidding cap; or leaving a campaign running oblivious to it being on – can all be very costly if a mistake is made. This an issue that is not encountered as frequently with TV ad spending: mostly due to the vast audience television has to offer.

Why Go Digital?

When a company runs a TV spot they rely on third party audience tracking companies, like Comscore and Nielsen, to determine the demographic and ad targets of an audience. And although their tracking technology has improved with the rise of digital TV, it still cannot compare to the performance and audience tracking abilities of online media. With the rise of insight tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Instagram Insights and more, businesses can track results in real-time. With digital media data and results are easily recorded: you can observe the number of visitors to your website and check on any running campaigns at any point in time. With digital media, businesses can determine what is and is not presently working and adapt accordingly.

Furthermore, social media allows for businesses to interact with customers. And consequently, brands can build communities of customers, with whom they receive real-time feedback and criticism. Where traditional media is concerned, on the other hand, customers are unable to interact and feel a companies ‘personality’ – just another example of the flexibility of digital media. Another demonstration of this is the ability of digital media to target individual groups of consumers. Businesses can tailor campaigns and offers for specific audience demographics, i.e., age, interests, location and gender. This will make for a much more effective campaign.

Overall, digital marketing is the much more cost-efficient than traditional methods of marketing. Businesses can define the duration and target of any marketing campaign: this allows for much more efficient communication.

Television + Digital = Ultimate Marketing

Research shows that digital media assisted by TV ad buying significantly increases return on investment (ROI). The “halo effect” from TV advertising is responsible for the success of most digital marketing campaigns seen today. Recent research on the “halo effect” of TV can be found here.

What media channels do you prefer to use, and why? Let us know in the comments below!