Despite years of dire predictions, TV advertising continues to outperform other media.
January. It’s that time of new beginnings, hopeful resolutions and of course, pundits making predictions. The latest fodder for the talking heads? The demise of television. Citing everything from declining network ratings to cord-cutting Millennials, these so-called authorities have turned lamenting the state of TV into something of an annual obsession.
Television not only remains alive and well, it’s more relevant and effective than ever for direct-to-consumer brands. Unlike other media, it has the power to bring us together for shared experiences. It’s engaging in ways that social media has yet to discover. Most importantly, television works.
From 2010 through 2016, a $1 million investment in TV performed seven times better than paid search, and five times better than online display advertising. The same study noted, “Dollar for dollar, TV provides the most scale and delivers the highest return on ad spend from both a sales and awareness perspective.”
An evolution in TV viewing habits
The exaggerators do have one thing right. The television landscape has changed dramatically. But rather than sealing TV’s fate, this evolution demonstrates the medium’s longevity, and provides significant new opportunities for advertisers.
A healthy broadcast approach considers these facts:
Audience numbers remain steady. From football games to reality shows, we still tune in to television. That’s 119.6 million households, to be exact. Contrary to predictions, adults 25 and older still watch exactly the same amount of television today as they did five years ago. And, just as the U.S. population has grown, so has the overall TV audience in the U.S., up five percent over five years ago.
There’s a network for nearly everyone. Love baking pies? Can’t get enough of true crime documentaries? How about Spanish-language movies? Great news—there’s a network for that. In 2018, viewers have exponentially more TV choices, with over 1,700 commercial stations available. (In 1950, there were about 100 stations; in 1960, around 500.) Major networks now represent only a fraction of the available television universe.
Viewing is more specialized. Paradoxically, even with hundreds of channels at our fingertips, most of us watch only one or two networks each day. We spend less time channel surfing, and when we watch, we concentrate on a few favorites.
Watching happens anytime, anywhere. Even “watching TV” no longer requires a stationary position in front of a traditional television set. The rise of TV-connected devices empowers viewers—particularly Millennials—to consume our favorite shows at home and on the go. Rather than leading to a dead end, smart phones and tablets are breathing new life into TV by adapting to today’s mobile and empowered lifestyles.
The bottom line? We simply don’t watch television the same way we did twenty years ago. And twenty years from now, our habits will likely continue to evolve.
Television continues to deliver—so long as modern marketers keep up with the times. For advertisers, that means looking beyond the traditional networks and shows, in order to reach the right buyers.
Watch our next post for tips on optimizing your media buys.