Recognizing the Real TV Picture

Author: Daniel Gulick. Source: HuffingtonPost

Despite sensational headlines claiming that TV is dying/dead, the channel is still holding strong.

While digital, and the enticing real-time analytics that it brings, was predicted to crush TV advertising, its vulnerabilities and risks have dulled the shine. The reality is, today’s linear TV is measurable and optimizable. It has proven to be the most effective marketing channel for advertisers looking not only to create brand awareness, but also to drive direct online and offline response.

So, enough is enough, I’m calling for clarity around how we talk about TV advertising.

Earning a place at the ‘new’ media table

The sheer reach of TV has never been in doubt. The average American still watches more than four hours of TV a day – even Millennials accrue 12+ hours a week. What some advertisers have struggled with is the out-of-date views about TV’s campaign measurement capabilities.

Sophisticated TV analytics platforms process unprecedented volumes of data, and advertisers can get same-day insights into the best-performing TV spots. Then using those insights to inform future brand strategy through continual campaign optimization.

When you consider this, and take a step back to look at how some in the industry discuss TV, you start to question the need for scaremongering. TV is not stuck in the past or even stagnating – it’s evolving within the digital era and has earned its place at the ‘new’ media table.

A major part of the marketing mix

Too often, TV is positioned as the enemy of digital, or vice versa. This is simply not true. TV plays a large role in some of the most innovative marketing mixes, influencing response via online and offline channels. The combination of TV and digital can actually enhance the impact of a campaign and support a holistic, continuous brand experience.

To take it a step further, some advertisers are now using marketing mix modeling (MMM), multi-touch attribution (MTA) or a combination of both, to understand and optimize how online and offline channels work on their own and impact / influence each other throughout the path-to-purchase.

TV is not a digital platform

As TV-like content is rolled out across online platforms, digital terms like ‘programmatic’, ‘branded content’ and even ‘native advertising’ are being used in relation to all TV campaigns. While it’s true that TV should (and does) form a core element of today’s multi-channel campaigns, as an industry we need to be mindful of the terminology used to describe linear-TV-specific characteristics.

For example, TV advertising cannot be truly ‘programmatic’ in the digital sense of the word. Rather, automated processes can facilitate and expedite the securing of optimal spots, and addressable is making its mark, albeit slowly. TV’s capabilities are impactful and sophisticated in their own right, and we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t differentiate them.

A call for clarity

While we have seen digital’s flaws result in a migration back to TV for some brands, it’s important not to take this for granted. The hit digital has taken cannot be championed as TV’s ‘savior’.

TV never died, it’s not dying, nor is it in the throes of a triumphant come-back. By focusing on areas such as market growth, current and future technology development, ad creative, and targeting capabilities, TV has ensured it can stand on its own two feet.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the TV ad industry and, as the platform continues to evolve, it’s important that we look at the big picture. With the help of automated technology, and now even machine learning, advanced TV analytics tools are enabling advertisers to measure and optimize TV campaigns – and all without the headache of ad fraud, ad blocking or brand safety issues. Whether adopted as a standalone or in conjunction with digital strategies, the bright future of TV is clear.