Some Inconvenient Truths About TV As An Ad Medium

At what must the height of irony, we learn this week that Facebook has been spending heavily on TV to win back trust following disclosures about a rash of negative issues. Facebook has been averaging $1 million per day since breaking mid-March, when it kicked off a six-week local flight, followed by a national rollout on April 25, according to Kantar Media. This, in spite of the prevailing view that TV is no longer an effective ad medium because audiences are shrinking and using technology to avoid ads.

Well, let's start by busting a few myths about TV:

Myth: Everyone is cutting the cord.

Fact: More than 80% of U.S. households subscribe to cable, satellite, or a telco - the same number of households that own a washer/dryer.

Myth: The majority of video viewing now happens on phones and tablets.

Fact: Think about how much time adults 18+ spend on their phones, tablets, and PCs every day. Now add those times together. People still watch more TV than that.

Myth: YouTube is bigger than TV.

Fact: The only thing bigger than TV is this myth. U.S. viewers spend almost 5.5 times more time watching ad-supported TV every month than they do watching anything on YouTube.

Myth: Millennials don't watch TV.

Fact: Not only do Millennials (18-34) watch TV, they watch almost three hours a day it’s more time than they spend eating, shopping, and using social media combined.

Myth: Digital video has more unique viewers than TV.

Fact: It’s not possible. 95% of American households have TV. Just 77% of Americans have a smartphone, and only about 73% of them have broadband at home. So if you’re only advertising on digital, you’re cutting your potential audience by a quarter right off the top.

Even as new marketing platforms emerge and brands increasingly shift ad dollars toward digital, TV is still a marketer’s best tool. It reaches more people, drives more sales, and communicates a brand’s message more effectively than any other medium. Consider these additional facts:

Adults watch a lot of TV. On any given day, people spend 2.5 times more time with TV than YouTube and social channels combined. For example: they spend four hours and 56 minutes on TV vs. 35 minutes on Facebook. By the way, this is twice the time spent on mobile devices and five times the time spent online via desktop.

TV’s reach is unrivaled. Almost everyone has at least one TV and TVs are now in more hotels, more college dormitories, and more restaurants than ever before. Some 94% of Americans have at least one TV at home vs. 77% of Americans who have a smartphone. TV in the U.S. reaches 231,084,000 folks a month!

People spend more time watching live programming on a TV (81.2% of time per hour) than they do TV-connected devices (10.3%), pc video (5.1%) or even smartphones (1.8%).

TV is most effective at driving ROI efficiently. Compared to online, paid search, and radio, TV delivers more lift across a range of verticals.

All this without getting into the fact that TV avoids the many pitfalls of digital advertising from user privacy concerns, fake news (well, okay, there is still Fox), bot-driven clicks, ad-blockers, annoying ad units like pop-ups and auto-start video,  offensive content, questionable measurement metrics, and a lack of transparency in general.

As a consumer there is a lot not to like about linear TV from excessive ad loads to some pretty crappy content in most prime time hours. But as an advertiser, I think I'd be like Facebook and fish where the fish are.
5 comments about "Some Inconvenient Truths About TV As An Ad Medium".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 22, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

    George, as I am sure you are aware, I agree with you. Indeed, even if TV is no longer as ad-friendly as it once was---much more ad clutter, rating fragmentation, much greater use of reruns, many more ways to "avoid" commercials, etc. -----it still brings home the bacon for most advertisers. However, there are ways that TV advertising and media planning/buying can be improved and, sadly, some of the most important changes like creating a two -stage upfront---one for low CPM corporate buys, the other for better targeted individual brand buys---are not even being considered. The sad fact is that most advertiser CMOs just can't be bothered to really dig into the media function---despite what they say when pontificating at industry gatherings. As a result  many opportunities to use TV with greater impact are being missed.

  2. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, June 22, 2018 at 8:42 a.m.

    It is always nice to be on the same page as you, Ed. I see lots of emerging technology that when fully formed and deployed will make TV buying far more efficient and effective. Already CMOs can see which ads result in purchases and plan more sophisticated schedules to reach buyer, not just watchers.

  3. Brian Durocher from GTB, June 25, 2018 at 9:56 a.m.

    Agree totally. Sources? Nielsen, others?

  4. George Simpson from George H. Simpson Communications, June 25, 2018 at 10:41 a.m.

    A variety of sources includuing Nielsen, VAB, linear networks, but all authenticated. G

  5. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, June 25, 2018 at 10:46 a.m.

    And, when we buy linear video (jargon IS everything) we know WHERE the impressions are delivered. By the time we assemble the many OTT and online video partners to our schedules as well as programmatic video, we don’t know where the impressions are without arduous geo-fencing and our ability to measure uniques is suspect.  And reach locally? Ha! 

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