The Digital Tail Starts Wagging the TV Dog

Since the beginning of digital media, online has largely been an afterthought relative to TV for brand advertisers.  Consumers are studied for insights that lead to better TV copy.  TV ad concepts are thoroughly vetted and studied before production.   Final cut TV ads are tested and compared to long standing norms.  Then, at some point, the material is repurposed for digital.  This was a rational process given that digital inventory has been dominated by static display ads, digital campaigns reached smaller audiences, and digital advertising effectiveness was tough to reliably measure.

Times are changing fast.  The primary driver of this change is the explosion of digital video content and advertising inventory, though larger audiences and better measurement play key roles as well.  While I’ve seen countless times that display campaigns can be quite effective and efficient, digital video is very comparable to TV in the minds of advertisers, which makes it easier to buy and offers the greatest potential for effective persuasion.  Nowadays why wouldn’t brand advertisers produce and test video content online, like Unilever did with its Journeys to Comfort campaign for its Dove Men + Care brand, and then translate what works onto TV?  Digital video campaigns can now be produced economically, reach large audiences with great precision and be measured for effectiveness rapidly while in-market, making them the new logical starting point relative to TV for branding efforts.

Imagine how much more efficiently all of those TV dollars could be spent if the media planners and buyers knew in advance which ad units were most persuasive when paired with specific types of content and geared to particular audiences.  Look for more digital material and insights to drive TV advertising in the future – at least until the two media become indistinguishable.

Dan Beltramo, Executive Vice President, Product Leadership, Nielsen

(CEO and Founder, Vizu, a Nielsen company)

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