TV advertising is under attack with daily news headlines dripping with portents of doom. The funny thing is, it’s our industry colleagues who repeat the alarmist refrain. Media consumption is hopelessly fragmented. Viewership is dwindling. When people do watch TV, they all like to bail on commercials. Should they actually see a commercial, they have a hard time remembering the advertised product. Things are so topsy-turvy, says Nielsen Media Research, that 21 percent of viewers can’t even remember the programs they see.
Marketing pundits proclaim uniformly that the Web is the future of advertising. Commercials on TV? Stick a fork in them; they’re done. Discard them, and cart them away. It’s curious advice. The TV commercials that build brands, generate leads and produce direct sales remain powerful. The analysts’ predictions aside, advertisers act with conviction. According to Nielsen, TV’s slice of the ad revenue pie is a sweet 65.5 percent. Internet ads account for a mere sliver: 6.6 percent. And consumers themselves still respect their old friend. Kantar Media Research found that 43 percent find TV “excellent” or “good” for building brand awareness. Twenty-six percent proclaimed TV ads tops for developing trust—the best score in the survey. Online video registered less than 5 percent in both of these categories. And it’s estimated that a whopping 25 percent-plus of all TV commercials now incorporate some response mechanism.
A Multichannel Perspective
Dismissing TV advertising, whether brand- or direct response-oriented, to singularly embrace the Web is the height of futuristic folly. Even so, the Internet’s online ad share is a number that continues to grow, and it would be just as foolish to ignore that opportunity. Few successful brands can afford to limit their marketing to only one medium. If consumer attention is as stretched and fragmented as reported, a multichannel approach is the only viable way to ensure the broadest reach possible. Three-quarters of American Internet users watched online video this past July, comScore reported. So while DRTV clients and agencies should remain true to core values, they also should follow the wandering eyeballs. Investment in online video is a must—but it is as much an expansion of creative vision and strategic thinking as it is of domain names and dollars.