38 Eastwood Drive, Suite 401
South Burlington, VT 05403
Monday to Friday | 8AM—5:30PM EST
Like a street preacher warning others about the end of the world, marketers have been heralding the end times for television advertising for a while now, deeming it to be expensive and not targetable or measurable enough. Not to mention the advancement of the internet age, which has seemingly pushed television to the background. Just knowing that 1.1 million people canceled their cable subscriptions in 2015 alone could be quite disheartening. In fact, Saturday Night Live is planning to cut 30% of its TV ads and replace them with content produced by the show’s cast.
Is television advertising really on its way out?
Not according to the viewing numbers, so don’t prepare the eulogy just yet. TV watching is still America’s most common leisure activity. Even with the purported cancellations, just over 20% of American households were without cable last year, which means nearly 80% of people were still watching cable TV. Plus, studies show people in their mid-30s and older prefer to watch content on a television screen, as opposed to a phone or laptop. And with such a strong viewing audience, television remains a prime medium for advertising, offering the following advantages:
Advertisers are always looking for ways to showcase their goods or services while demonstrating the benefits, as well. But these days that may not be enough. There is a lot of competition out there, so an ad really needs to boost its creativity in order to distinguish itself. Television allows advertisers to do just that, with the use of sounds and visuals to bring the world of a commercial to life for an audience. Television reaches consumers when they are at their most attentive, and they are drawn to commercials that are innovative and well-made. These commercials just feel more real to the viewers, and they often become invested in the characters and their stories. Also, adding a strong call-to-action like a vanity phone number makes an ad even more indelible. The more creative an ad is, the more likely it is to be remembered.
Many people still remember a time when there were only a maximum of four television channels to watch, usually by hand-turning a knob and adjusting a pair of rabbit ears. But then cable television came along, and people began to have even more viewing options. Fast forward to today, and there are hundreds of channels for practically any interest or audience one can think of: mysteries, comedy, game shows – there’s even a channel for pets! All this variety means any company can find the perfect channels on which to advertise in order to reach their prime demographics. For instance, a company that makes refrigerators would do well to advertise on one of the cooking channels. Companies can also use tools such as call tracking for a higher precision of audience targeting accuracy.
Perhaps the most compelling argument for television advertising is that it produces tangible results. Turner Broadcasting recently conducted a study to better comprehend and measure TV advertising’s impact, determined to break down the effect TV ads have on driving KPIs, how it compares to other media, and how reducing TV ads affects sales. Looking at marketing mix studies from IRI between 2013 and 2015, they found that ROI from TV ads has remained the same over the past five years and is higher than other media when looked at the long term. Also, 1 out of 5 social engagements for brands are directly driven by television advertising. Finally, a decline in TV ads leads to a $94 million combined loss in sales, which represents 68% of original sales. Perhaps someone should make the decision-makers at SNL aware of this little fact.
Don’t be fooled by all the fear-mongering. In spite of the changing landscape, television advertising continues to be relevant and impactful. And when combined with a solid call-to-action, TV ads offer some amazing benefits. People have trusted TV commercials for over 60 years, and that is not about to change.