TV Plus Digital, Instead of Versus

15 May 2013 | Blog

There’s been a lot of talk about TV versus digital advertising, as if advertisers who choose one medium are therefore barred from using the other. While limited budgets naturally require some tradeoffs to be made, the majority of advertisers in the real world are trying to use relevant tools at their disposal as effectively as they can. Recently, two MediaPost articles have highlighted some of the convergences and synergies. In “Video Convergence is Here: Adapt or Face Extinction”, Ronnie Lavi notes:

The segregation of TV and digital is deeply engrained in advertising culture, resulting in separate and often competing silos. The common view has been that video is an either/or proposition: TV vs. online, with the two camps vying for advertiser budgets and attention. The unhealthy result is inefficiency, requiring higher budgets and more effort to engage fewer people.

Advertisers, however, are ready to move on. They want a holistic approach that brings an end to costly audience fragmentation and leverages the newest digital opportunities to break out and engage with audiences in fresh ways and at lower cost.

He’s right. CMOs are not interested in the ideological arguments being made by the various camps. They just want their campaigns to work, ideally across all platforms. They want their TV advertising and digital advertising to help each other, not compete. In “Upfront 2013: Confessions of a Digital Guy—It’s All About TV”, Scott Ferber talks about one way that these two different mediums can help each other.

Bringing addressability to linear television is hard.  But we have to keep trying. We often talk of connecting the dots between screens.  Yet, generally, we limit this discussion to digital screens – online, mobile and connected TVs.  But if we don’t connect to traditional television, we’re missing a crucial part of the equation. Creating greater efficiencies within the TV buy will only make the entire screen proposition work better. But it needs to be done in TV planning and buying terms – not digital terms.  We can make what’s great about TV even better.

He doesn’t quite go far enough in imagining how addressability helps advertisers, though. It’s not just about increasing efficiency. Targeting TV ads is about increasing the effectiveness of the ads themselves. And addressability in TV has the potential for amazing synergies with a digital campaign. After all, one of the major advantages of digital is the ability to target ads based on demographic or geographic indicators. How much stronger would a campaign be if similar targeting conditions were used for both the TV and digital components? Using similar targeting allows the TV and digital ads to reinforce each other, even play off each other. Advertisers can opt to make sure that the same message is carried across platforms, including the intended targeting. Or they can get creative and use the different mediums differently, secure in the knowledge that someone of demographic A will see both the TV and digital ads aimed at demographic A, while demographic B will be receiving their own messages on both platforms. When targeting is applied only to digital, it makes the TV advertising look “one size fits all” and ineffective in comparison. But when targeting is applied to both, the natural strengths of both methods can be capitalized upon. Reach is increased, fragmentation is side-stepped, and marketers get the most for their money. Because in the end, brands don’t really care whether their customers came to them from digital ads, TV ads, or both. They just want people to be engaged with their brands and buy their products.