Digital Advertising vs. TV Ad Spend: Where are the Best Opportunities to Win New Business?


If you're thinking about where to allocate your marketing budget when it comes to TV and digital ads, then it's time to look to the future. A winner is emerging, but it’s the ad model itself that's seeing the most important changes.

Where Do We Consume?

This is the big question, isn't it? Where are people actually experiencing content, through digital offerings or television? Ad spend tends to follow building trends, but for concrete results we need to know where the people are. The sticking point, of course, is that "we" and "the people" have many different consumption habits based on location, age, income, profession and more.

So when making your ad spend decisions, spend at least a little time defining your target audience and perhaps drawing up some customer personas to use. For example, younger consumers tend to focus primarily on digital channels with relatively little interest in TV at all. Older customers are usually the opposite. Those in-between can vary and are typically loyal to both certain types of TV content as well as trusted online channels.

The Turning Point: Digital is the Inevitable Winner

Let's follow the money: Which is currently bigger, digital or TV? Based on the most recent research, digital is finally triumphing over TV ad funding in a clear, unavoidable fashion. Reports by Magna Global show not only that TV ad sales are particularly weak in the United States, but that digital ad spending has edged ahead of TV for the first time.

The reason that budgets are showing such a significant shift isn't that hard to parse. Mobile buyers are becoming so common that they are taking over consumption models and diverging with 72 percent of digital ad spending set to be on mobile by 2019 -- and it's worth noting that 90 percent of a consumer's mobile time is spent in apps. After all, it's easy to use a mobile device while watching TV, so why spend money on both marketing channels when only one will ultimately reach the consumer?

Marketers are still getting more bang for their buck with digital content as opposed to TV commercial prices, and have a lot more choices. For an average popular TV show, a brand may get one 30-second commercial bit. That commercial will probably be ignored or skipped over, especially by younger audiences. With digital advertising, that same brand can compose multiple tweets, comments, tie-ins, videos and reviews about that TV show, link them to the excitement of a new episode, and have them available for weeks to an ongoing audience. It's easy to see why digital ad spending has gained so much favor, and why this year or next, TV advertising is going to have to rethink how it works and who it's reaching.

Being ultra-targeted in your approach to channel selection is going to be how more business gets done. So if you want to see which channels top brands are allocating their media budgets to, get a free trial of Winmo.

Looking to the Future

Think of the digital vs. TV question as a short term issue: Eventually, it won't matter anymore. The convergence of digital and TV has already begun – we're seeing it in the exclusive content produced by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others. We're also seeing it in YouTube video channels, social media videos, live TV streaming through Vue or SlingTV, and much more. Soon there won't be a difference worth measuring between TV ad spend and digital ad spend. We're already seeing shorter and more social media-friendly ads on network TV apps, and everything from pop-ads to product placement is seeing plenty of experimentation.

This is just the start. The traditional commercial is dying out, and the new ad models that replace will be used on both digital and TV channels – if you can tell the two apart by then.

Written by: Jennifer Groese

Jennifer is the VP of Marketing at Winmo and is passionate about helping salespeople win more business. Our goal as a company, and as a marketing team, is to provide intelligence and content that enables customers to be proactive in their sales outreach.

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