You Can Run a Great TV Campaign Without TV

7月 19, 2015

For some, the 2000 Super Bowl will forever be remembered as the “dot-com Super Bowl” because of the 14 online businesses that advertised during the game, including

Fifteen years later, we may look back and laugh at the folly of spending venture capital on a TV ad featuring a sock puppet, but today many still think the medium is a viable choice for growth hacking your startup. (Sock puppets, not so much.)

Marketers are projected to spend about $79 billion on TV advertising this year, so clearly many recognize it as an effective medium to reach consumers. However, some might be missing the big picture.

While TV remains a prestige buy for advertisers and the Super Bowl in particular keeps a popular hold on the advertising world’s imagination, TV is fast becoming just another medium. Soon it won’t even be the biggest. Magna Global predicts that by 2017, digital will overtake TV in revenues.

For a startup looking across the landscape of media options, TV doesn’t make a lot of sense. Unless you’ve got millions to waste — which no one does anymore — you’d be best off leaving TV to established brands.

Fortunately, an alternative exists. An online video campaign is a quick and fairly cheap way to market a brand.

Here’s how you can take advantage of the opportunity to run a great “TV campaign” without TV:

Use an smartphone to shoot your ad on the cheap.

While the Internet has leveled the playing field for new advertisers, less-heralded advances in video-camera technology have made it possible to shoot an ad for very little money.

At one time, the average cost just to shoot a TV ad was about $350,000. These days, you can shoot a beautiful TV ad with a smartphone. Apple itself has stressed this point with its latest TV campaign, which was shot with an iPhone 6. This is great news for a startup looking to make its mark.

Target interests rather than demographics.

TV ads are still sold by age and gender demographics set by Nielsen, which makes TV advertising a fairly blunt instrument. A better approach is to get your video in front of people who have interests that correspond to the product you are selling.

When placing your video online, keep in mind that research has shown that behaviorally targeted ads are twice as effective as standard placements. There’s solid logic to back this up. Do you sell strawberry-scented candles? They you want to find people who are searching “strawberry-scented candles” or who are reading a website about strawberry-scented candles. That’s a much more effective way to reach a potential buyer than merely picking targeting all men or women of a certain age.

Get accurate analytics on your campaign’s success.

Once your campaign is live, Google Analytics and Sizmek can use tracking tags to tell you if your video ads have been viewed, clicked on or shared. You can also use online surveys from companies like Insight Express to measure recall and brand affinity. If you want high-quality data, though, you have to pay for it. Google Analytics offers a free tier of service, but the premium version will run up $150,000 a year and up.

Let’s face it, chances are, your ad is not going to go viral. However, you may find that although you haven’t become the next Dollar Shave Club that the video ad you’ve placed online is doing quite well. If it hasn’t gotten millions of views but still functions fairly well as a sales vehicle, then at a certain point in the future, it might make more sense to do a TV buy. That’s just one option, though. You can magnify your success online with a bigger buy there as well.

These are great times to market yourself. In reality, the dot-coms of 15 years ago weren’t that far off – they just didn’t have the options that today’s startups do. If you take a close look at today’s realities, you’ll realize that you don’t need TV to run a great TV campaign.


James G. Brooks, Jr. is the founder and CEO of GlassView, a social video platform with a human-powered approach. During his eleven year career in Digital Media, J. has worked with agencies and publishers, rising through the ranks of publishing powerhouse Conde Nast, running US digital advertising campaigns for Vogue and Wired online. Prior to launching GlassView, J. mastered the intricacies of successful video campaigns at London based startup, Unruly Media. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University.