Is Television Still King?

By Amanda Wilmarth

In an era filled with touchpoints, it has become increasingly difficult to predict which advertising medium a consumer will trust and act on. The exponential rise of internet use, coupled with social networks and video sharing sites, proves that digital advertising channels are in a period of impressive growth. Despite this shift, TV use has remained a constant—and appears to remain one of the most trusted and effective advertising mediums.

Resiliency in an ever-changing landscape

TV has repeatedly proven to be remarkably resilient in an era where the digital world has accelerated at a rapid pace.  Despite the introduction of online video platforms, such as YouTube— and subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix—TV consumption has remained tried and true across generational gaps. Online video companies, including HULU and Amazon, are getting creative and angling for the TV business with their own versions of internet-based television services.

According to a study by the Video Advertising Bureau, the average millennial born between 1981 and 1996 spends more time watching traditional TV than eating, drinking, shopping and watching YouTube combined. Overall, U.S. adults spend even more time in front of the TV. A recent Total Audience Report done by Nielsen found that people 18 and over watch an average of five hours of video per day on a TV screen, compared to just 19 minutes on multimedia devices, which provides further validation that TV remains the dominant medium in most U.S. households.

Triggering emotion and instant credibility

It’s commonly believed that most purchase decisions are made with the heart, not the head. This key decision-making process triggers engagement, which helps to lift overall brand awareness, perception—and ultimately, purchase intent. Furthermore, conveying your message with both sight and sound can give your product or business instant credibility.

Rob Albertson, of Chicago-based creative consultancy Bandwidth Marketing, notes “Consumers feel that a company with a TV advertisement takes its marketing serious enough to spend money on this fairly expensive vehicle.” Additionally, the creative flair that accompanies a TV spot can be particularly effective for small businesses that rely on loyal customers.

Whether you are moving consumers to tears or making them laugh uncontrollably, the visual and audio elements work together to increase both the ad’s impact and audience retention. After all, emotion is believed to be the main entry point to achieving engagement among consumers.

Unbeatable scale, reach, and ROI

Television can also be an effective way to kick-start and build momentum for a campaign. It delivers to mass audiences every day, making it ideal for promoting both product launches and sales events. According to one study, commercial TV can reach 71 percent of the population in just one day, 93 percent within a week and 98 percent in one month. Furthermore, businesses can better reach their target audience by purchasing spots during programs their intended demographic is likely to be watching.

A study by Neustar, commissioned by Turner Broadcasting and Horizon Media, found that for a $1 million investment, television’s lift is consistently 7 times better than paid search and 5 times better than online display ads across a wide variety of advertising categories. Several studies warn marketers against shifting money away from traditional mediums because in both short- and long-term strategies, television continues to be the most effective advertising medium.

Rich Lehrfeld, senior VP of global brand marketing and communications at American Express, was quoted in an AdAge article echoing the sentiment. “TV as a traditional medium is still important,” he said. “When we run a heavy TV schedule, we see a lift in sales and product awareness. We need to run two weeks of digital to get the reach of one day of broadcast.” Television delivers strong bottom-of-the-funnel impact and influences sales long after a campaign has run.

For all the talk of “cord-cutting” and commercial avoidance, U.S. audiences are still consuming television at an impressive rate. As new technologies evolve, TV campaigns will become even more targeted and effective. “TV is the giant megaphone,” said Isaac Weber, VP of strategy at MarketShare. “When you want to get a message out, that’s still really the most powerful means to do it.”

TV is still the most popular platform to consume video content. Clearly, the preponderance of evidence indicates that television is as relevant as ever—and that it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. And while TV stands well on its own, teamed with other well-planned omnichannel initiatives, TV shines even brighter.

Amanda Wilmarth is a media planner at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.