Some Inconvenient Truths About TV As An Ad Medium

Originally published in MediaPost

by , Featured Contributor, June 22, 2018

At what must the height of irony, we learn this week that Facebook has been spending heavily on TV to win back trust following disclosures about a rash of negative issues. Facebook has been averaging $1 million per day since breaking mid-March, when it kicked off a six-week local flight, followed by a national rollout on April 25, according to Kantar Media. This, in spite of the prevailing view that TV is no longer an effective ad medium because audiences are shrinking and using technology to avoid ads.

Well, let’s start by busting a few myths about TV:

Myth: Everyone is cutting the cord.

Fact: More than 80% of U.S. households subscribe to cable, satellite, or a telco – the same number of households that own a washer/dryer.

Myth: The majority of video viewing now happens on phones and tablets.

Fact: Think about how much time adults 18+ spend on their phones, tablets, and PCs every day. Now add those times together. People still watch more TV than that.

Myth: YouTube is bigger than TV.

Fact: The only thing bigger than TV is this myth. U.S. viewers spend almost 5.5 times more time watching ad-supported TV every month than they do watching anything on YouTube.

Myth: Millennials don’t watch TV.

Fact: Not only do Millennials (18-34) watch TV, they watch almost three hours a day it’s more time than they spend eating, shopping, and using social media combined.

Myth: Digital video has more unique viewers than TV.

Fact: It’s not possible. 95% of American households have TV. Just 77% of Americans have a smartphone, and only about 73% of them have broadband at home. So if you’re only advertising on digital, you’re cutting your potential audience by a quarter right off the top.

Even as new marketing platforms emerge and brands increasingly shift ad dollars toward digital, TV is still a marketer’s best tool. It reaches more people, drives more sales, and communicates a brand’s message more effectively than any other medium. Consider these additional facts:

Adults watch a lot of TV. On any given day, people spend 2.5 times more time with TV than YouTube and social channels combined. For example: they spend four hours and 56 minutes on TV vs. 35 minutes on Facebook. By the way, this is twice the time spent on mobile devices and five times the time spent online via desktop.

TV’s reach is unrivaled. Almost everyone has at least one TV and TVs are now in more hotels, more college dormitories, and more restaurants than ever before. Some 94% of Americans have at least one TV at home vs. 77% of Americans who have a smartphone. TV in the U.S. reaches 231,084,000 folks a month!

People spend more time watching live programming on a TV (81.2% of time per hour) than they do TV-connected devices (10.3%), pc video (5.1%) or even smartphones (1.8%).

TV is most effective at driving ROI efficiently. Compared to online, paid search, and radio, TV delivers more lift across a range of verticals.

All this without getting into the fact that TV avoids the many pitfalls of digital advertising from user privacy concerns, fake news (well, okay, there is still Fox), bot-driven clicks, ad-blockers, annoying ad units like pop-ups and auto-start video,  offensive content, questionable measurement metrics, and a lack of transparency in general.

As a consumer there is a lot not to like about linear TV from excessive ad loads to some pretty crappy content in most prime time hours. But as an advertiser, I think I’d be like Facebook and fish where the fish are.