One Reason TV Ads Can Be More Effective Than Digital

11 February 2014 | Blog

We spend increasing amounts of time online these days, as business, commerce, entertainment, and even our social lives move into the digital space. As TV Everywhere expands the platforms on which television appears and online video continues to pick up steam, it’s obvious that TV and digital are converging. The biggest agencies are clearly taking note, with groups like the Magna Consortium forming to automate inventory across platforms. So why, in this time of convergence, does TV still command so much power—with the associated high CPMs?

In an article: “Why TV Dollars Won’t Go Online—In 10 Words”, Joe Marchese has a good explanation:

TV “impressions” are 100% of the screen for 30 seconds.

…The idea of an “impression” in digital is so wildly different from what it is in TV — especially high-quality TV like the Super Bowl — that comparing the two is like comparing  apples and oranges. Sure, the CPM for a high-quality, professionally produced online video ad can be appealingly low for an advertiser. But the fact of the matter is, the definition of an “impression” online is ridiculously loose. The most common definition of a TV ad “impression” is 100% of the screen for 30 seconds –100% viewable, and with 100% “share of voice” for advertisers to deliver their creative.  Digital impressions are mostly defined as 50% of an advertisement viewable for one second, and there’s not even clear consensus on that.

The fact is, there is no digital advertisement that commands the kind of attention that a TV commercial can. Even video pre-roll is far too easy to ignore just by switching to another tab while it runs. The lean-back environment of TV encourages people to watch a full ad with their full attention.

But what about multitasking? After all, second screen usage is rising, too, isn’t it? Not as much as you might think. A new TiVo study revealed that 76% of people reported that “their primary focus is actually watching what’s on TV”. TV has our attention, and TV ads make the most of that attention. Throwing up 30 second full screen ads before or during most digital content would almost certainly result in howls of protest, but we’re completely used to (and in many cases, like the Super Bowl, enjoy) 30 second spots as part of our TV watching experience. TV ads continue to command the higher prices and prestige for the simple reason that they work.