Digital or TV? The false dichotomy in advertising
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't have to choose between digital or TV. Contributor Kevin O'Reilly explains how the two are inextricably intertwined and why it’s time for advertisers to take a multichannel approach.
In a bid to secure their own slice of ad revenues, the TV and digital advertising industries have set themselves up as opposing teams and are calling on advertisers to pick a side.
With each team using their annual sales periods — the TV Upfronts and the digital NewFronts — as an opportunity to cast doubt on the credibility of the other, advertisers could be forgiven for thinking they need to make a choice between the two channels.
But the reality is, advertisers shouldn’t be excluding TV, digital or any other advertising channel from their media mix. Instead, they should embrace multichannel, complementary media strategies that deliver optimal outcomes for their businesses.
So where has the misconception that advertisers must choose between TV and digital come from? And how can the industry shift the conversation away from replacing one channel for another so advertisers can focus on complementary media strategies instead?
The digital-conquering-TV myth
The debate between the TV and digital ad industries has a number of recurring themes. While TV advertising has been said to be of a higher quality, with more impact and credibility than its online counterpart, digital was promoted as more measurable, with a greater ability to target specific audience segments.
These may have been valid concerns in the past, but today, the lines between the two are becoming increasingly blurred. It’s now possible to accurately measure and target TV advertising, and digital media can be just as impactful as TV.
The media must take its fair share of the blame in propagating the digital-conquering-TV myth, with reports of increased digital spend frequently focusing on how much of it will be taken from budgets previously allocated to TV. This viewpoint is reinforced by stats indicating digital ad spend is set to overtake TV ad spend this year, giving the impression one channel can only flourish at the expense of the other.
On the contrary, it is possible for TV advertising to continue to grow alongside digital, as CBS’s 31 percent Q1 ad revenue increase proves.
The situation isn’t helped by the siloed nature of agency media buying teams. When you have distinct TV- and digital-buying teams — as well as separate radio, print and OOH (out of home) ones — each team will always champion its own channel in order to secure the maximum budget allocation, creating a disconnect between the channels. Integration of these teams is essential to allow for the emergence of cross-channel, complementary media strategies.
It’s time to take a multichannel approach
Far from being two separate channels that must compete with one another, TV and digital are inextricably intertwined. Video is a key area of growth for digital, but much of the video content consumed online is actually TV content viewed via on-demand or catch-up services.
Second-screening is now an accepted way of life. In fact, an estimated 85 percent of TV viewers used second-screen devices while watching the Rio Olympics this year. This means TV advertising can provide a significant boost to digital channels, with users immediately interacting with brands they see on the big screen via their smartphones or tablets.
The power of TV to drive online interaction is illustrated by digital-first businesses such as Facebook choosing to run TV ad campaigns, as well as by the proliferation of hashtags on TV commercials and shows that allow viewers to discuss them via social platforms.
Ultimately, advertisers shouldn’t be asking themselves which marketing channel they should choose to invest in, or whether they should be replacing TV advertising with digital, but instead how they can use a multi-channel approach to get the best results.
Creative, personalization, context and content all transcend channel in the design of a successful strategy. For example, within TV, advertisers need to know which spot and daypart will engage their audiences. For digital, they need to determine the most effective placements and formats.
To make the most of today’s advertising landscape, advertisers must understand how consumers interact in different channels and how multiple channels can be used collectively to create desired business outcomes. They then can develop campaigns with a cross-platform narrative to reach the right audience with the right message, regardless of channel.