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Are Television and Digital Really Competing?

09 October 2013 | Blog

Recently, Stacey Lynn Schulman of TVB wrote a great article (“Television One Zero”) pointing out how intertwined TV and digital really are. We have a tendency, in the advertising world, to set the two against each other as adversaries. TVB has a vested interest in promoting TV, of course, and she can’t help but point out that it’s been proven before that people overstate their digital usage while understating their TV watching habits. (If the article had come out a few days later, it might have cited the Advertiser Optimism Report that not only declared advertisers to be bullish on traditional media but showed the first signs of a decline in interest in digital media.)

But as she notes, digital and television are not locked in a zero sum game. Instead, they help drive interest in each other. It’s not just a matter of IP-based television and networks streaming their own shows. An enormous amount of our interaction with TV happens online, and the furor online only stokes our interest in TV. You only have to look at the hubbub over the finale of “Breaking Bad” to realize how much the two mediums feed off one another. Twitter, Slate, the New York Times—everyone joined in a frenzy of anticipation and then a catharsis of reflection as the finale’s air date came and went.

Of course, in today’s siloed world of ad budgets, there is competition between the two for advertising dollars. But it’s important to not lose sight of the greater view. Digital isn’t stealing viewers from TV; TV viewership is healthier than ever. Instead, they can help drive even greater engagement for one another. And savvy advertisers will seek to take advantage, combining their TV and digital ad strategies to engage consumers more than ever.