Opinion: don’t give up on that good old TV ad just yet.

tv advertisingThere’s a lot of talk in marketing circles about the need to plunge money into online advertising, and especially mobile.

Indeed, there’s no doubt that websites should now be designed to “work” on mobile devices more than anything else. As we have reported, perhaps 80% of web interactions are now on phones and similar devices.

All signs have been pointing to the increased importance of mobile-friendly design and content, but perhaps none so much as Google’s impending move toward using mobile-friendliness as a significant ranking factor.

According to the 2015 Salesforce State of Marketing report, marketers are getting the message, and are focusing on responsive design for their websites, emails and landing pages. They are also seeing an increased impact from mobile marketing; in fact, 90% of marketers believe mobile is in some way producing ROI.

Mobile marketing ROI

The survey also asked marketers about which marketing channels they plan to increase their spending in the coming year. This is important information for anyone wanting to remain competitive or to potentially differentiate themselves. The top channels where marketers are planning to invest this year include:

  • Social media advertising (70 percent)
  • Social media marketing 70 percent)
  • Social media engagement (67 percent)
  • Location-based mobile tracking (67 percent)
  • Mobile applications (66%)
  • Mobile push notifications (65%)

Email marketing is another channel that’s poised for growth over the next year. Email team sizes are growing, with 73 percent of marketers saying email is core to their business. Email ROI is also up from last year, with 92 percent of marketers saying email was in some way producing ROI for their company.

Email marketing ROI

And all well and good. No one can possibly argue with the proposition that the internet has exploded, and continues to explode, like an ever-expanding Universe after the Big Bang, and there’s no way any alert advertiser can avoid getting fully involved.

(The next big growth area in telecoms will therefore be faster internet, represented in Australia by fibre-based companies like Spirit Telecom, which floated on the ASX last week. Increasingly, lightning fast internet will come to be seen as a key selling feature of properties, especially in easy-to-cable apartment developments.)

But does that mean you should stop advertising on TV and other mediums like radio, billboards, Point of Sale and so on?

In MO Partners view, emphatically not.

One of the busiest sectors for advertising world-wide is car retailing. In February this year it was reported, for example, that radio has actually increased as a car dealer advertising medium in tech-savvy America since 2012, growing from $641 million to a forecasted $746 million, according to media analyser Borrell Associates. And despite predictions of the demise of traditional TV in a bubbling new world of Internet programme viewing, video-streaming over mobile phones and the rise of on-demand formats such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, car dealers in the USA were still on track to spend $1.3 billion on good old standard TV ads in 2015.

All those hard-headed deal makers in the car supply chain aren’t investing all that money for no return. Something is keeping their dollar in traditional advertising mediums.

So what’s occurring? Well, the short story seems to be that despite their rapidly growing mobile habits consumers still expect to get information from traditional mediums too. And it will be some time before the habit of watching TV in the family home breaks down – indeed, in March this year eMarketer predicted that in the long-term, TV ad spending will continue to grow by about 2% a year. But by 2020, TV ad spending’s share will drop below one-third of total media ad spending for the first time in the US. Dropping, you note, not disappearing.

The medium itself, however, is stubbornly successful. As the Wall Street Journal reported, TV networks revenues are holding up nicely, and even increasing more rapidly than expected. CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves emphasised that on an investor call in February when he asserted:

“Network advertising, if you want to reach a mass audience … and we’ve said this before, not knocking YouTube … but 20 million people watch ‘NCIS,’ ” he said, referring to the popular cop show. “That takes a lot of hits on YouTube.”

So the bad news for marketeers in purely cash terms seems to be that their overall marketing spend may need to increase to keep pace with competitors who are now investing heavily in both digital and traditional media.

The good news might be that advertising is seeing something of a renaissance in terms of effectiveness.

The key seems to be how the online and traditional world works together.

Multi-screen is where it’s at

multi-screeningeMarketeer also report that with the smartphone- and tablet-using audiences growing rapidly – and time spent with media on these devices increasing steadily too – marketers have started investing more in so-called multi-screen advertising campaigns.

August 2013 polling by the Association of National Advertisers and Nielsen found that two-thirds of marketers spent up to 25% of their media budget on integrated multi-screen campaigns. Multi-screen? That’s an ad campaign on TV which is also played or echoed to consumers via supporting advertising on little screens – like phones and tablets, and to a lesser degree laptop computers. The common view of a family watching TV at home now is that they’re often on their mobile devices too. If the messages they’re getting on TV in the ad breaks are reinforced in their simultaneous online activity, the likelihood is that they will work harder than either medium would on its own.

By 2016, 72% of respondents expected this multi-screen activity share to increase to between 26% and 100%. When asked to rate the importance of multi-screen advertising now and in the future, 48% said it was very important to their marketing efforts in 2013, and 88% expected it to be very important by this year. Certainly this reflects our experience with our clients.

Marketing 101 will soon become “Run an ad on TV, run a mobile version of that ad on someone’s smart phone, and if you can work out how to, push it to them at the very same time. Even better, make your mobile ad have a response mechanism built into it. Bang! Response!”

Ad agencies and media buyers – let alone clients – are rushing to get their heads around these possibilities.

In our view, these developments also point to two other very important trends of which advertisers need to be aware.

TV ads will increasingly need to work as “radio on TV”, too.

Although it was an ad for a dying business segment - printed directories - "Not happy, Jan" for Yellow Pages passed into Australian parlance and is still heard in common language ten years later - proof of the power of clever TV ti imprint an idea on the brains of its audience.
Although it was an ad for a dying business segment – printed directories – “Not happy, Jan” for Yellow Pages passed into Australian parlance and is still heard in common language ten years later – proof of the power of clever TV to imprint an idea on the brains of its audience.

It’s received wisdom that TV (and it’s poor relation, cinema advertising) works well because you can put beautiful (or funny, or stark) images on-screen that are inherently interesting, and then marry them to a powerfully piece of written copy, delivered in voiceover. And that’s all true, of course.

But that nexus only holds true if the audience’s eyes are still actually on the screen. In cinema we can still pretty much assume that’s the case. On TV, increasingly less so.

If the public are actually staring at their phone, then the words spoken in the ad – and its sound effects or music, too – need to be treated with more importance than perhaps they have been in the pre-mobile era. People will be hearing the ads, not watching them. So let’s all think harder about what we can do to get them to look up, or if we can’t pull that off, at least arrange for their subconscious to make a mental note of the key facts in our soundtrack.

This might be as simple, for example, as obeying some of the rules that have long been understood and applied to radio advertising. One very obvious one, for example, might be as easy as “say your brand name more than once”.

Secondly, we need to understand that TV should increasingly be used for what it was always best at – conveying emotion. Used correctly, “the movies” present a perfect storm of emotional stimulation to the audience. Simply because they engage more of our brain, and in a manner which the brain appreciates – we remember things in pictures, of course – the combination of moving pictures, music, sound and words is still, and will always be, the most effective way to move an audience member viscerally. Deeply. Convincingly.

MOP logoSo at MOP we make two predictions:

Ads on TV that are just plain annoying – “screaming retail” being the best example – will continue to irritate audiences, as research shows they do. And even more so now, because their intrusiveness isn’t just disturbing their blank-eyed stare at the screen as the ad break whizzes by: now, annoying ads will be breaking their intent focus on their mobile devices, and to no good purpose.

Beautiful production quality – now extended to audio again – and creatively conceived “vignettes” – will continue to move audiences, and we’d be crazy to forget that. Yes, we might all need to be more savvy about our media buy, with “free to air TV” being a declining proportion of a seemingly endlessly growing stable of channels, including all the “watch again” channels, of course, but TV itself is going to continue to be a key advertising medium long into the future.

Secondly, advertisers that forget to keep their “opinion forming” ads running on TV, and concentrate just on promotions, and/or who pour all of their money into online advertising, will wake up one day to discover that sales go down and their brand tracking measurements decline along with their market share.

A little square intruding on your mobile phone screen that says “10% off baked beans in [supermarket name]” may or may not make you “click here”. But a TV ad that sells convenience, freshness, friendly staff, offers bags of appetite appeal, and reassurance, will still help you decide which way to walk when you’ve parked your car in a shopping mall.

It’s simply not an either-or.

Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

It's All About The Conversation - Do Leave A Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s