Quick: Name one new TV show premiering this fall season that you're excited about. OK, how about just one TV show, period?
If you came up blank, you're not alone. However, while the waning of broadcast TV's influence has been a long-running narrative, the real story is more complex.
Despite all the gloom about network TV, lots of people still watching video on a TV set. Recent research from Salesforce showed 81 percent of global respondents said they watch TV at least once a month — that's higher than any other media activity.
They watch TV differently than a few years ago though. Consumers' time and attention are much more fractured, so 30-second ads don't land like they used to. Rather than being the main event, TV is a component of an omnichannel strategy.
How does TV fit into this strategy? Here are four elements to consider:
TV still drives the overall message
What makes a TV campaign effective? A 2017 analysis from WARC about the most effective campaigns of that year included many that were "TV-led.” WARC also found a 30 percent increase in campaigns that led with TV over the previous three years. The reason? TV and online video were key to conveying emotion. (Though it was also true that campaigns with TV had bigger budgets, which also explains their efficacy.) Despite the relatively small audiences that TV commands, it still trumps other forms of media outreach. In an analysis of 5,000 recent campaigns, Nielsen found that TV ads reached 63 percent of target audiences while only reached just 2 percent. TV viewing also drives "second-screen” activities, like search. Some 62 percent of consumers search a product or service they saw on TV, according to a recent GfK and Hearst Television study.
Time syncing online ads with TV makes both more effective
It makes intuitive sense that seeing an online ad for the same product you just saw on TV will make a big impression. But often there's a lag between TV and online placement. Research has shown that there is an uplift in performance when online ads are time synced with TV ads. With connected TV targeting, advertisers can sync ads in real time so if a viewer goes to their iPad during a TV commercial break, they will see the same ad that's on TV. Advertisers don't have to just sync their own ads; research from the UK TV Guide found that advertisers experience a 30 percent uplift when targeting competitor brands.
TV is a teaser for a digital experience
Though TV is effective for reaching the masses, it's effective in a different way than in the past. Consumers' tolerance for TV advertising is always falling which makes them less receptive to longer ads. That means TV ads often function like electronic billboards. A study by the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video this year, for instance, found that consumers found 30-second ads less enjoyable than short-form ads. Viewers preferred the :15 to the :30. Six-second ads, meanwhile, were effective when used as a reinforcement to 30-second ads. As consumers know, if they want to see a long-form version of an ad or learn more about a product, they can go online.
There is no optimal media mix
There's no formula for which percentage of a budget to allocate to TV. TV doesn't work for every campaign, either. If your campaign is focused more on the bottom of the funnel, then TV might not make sense. Decisions about media mix should only come after you have found your audience. Chances are many will be planted in front of a TV.
The other element to note about TV is that it is constantly changing. Currently, TV is a one-to-many medium, but connected TV-based addressability is transforming it into a one-to-one medium, like online. Internet of Things (IoT) will also spread the targeting abilities for TV as consumers gain the ability to "mirror' whatever they're watching to pick it up in another room, like the kitchen. This hyper-targeting, which is new to TV advertising, can once again transform the medium.
That's why it's foolish to count TV out. What people are watching may change, but when given the choice, who would opt for a 4.5-inch screen when a 60-inch high-definition screen is nearby?