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Terrestrial vs. digital – the changing face of TV advertising

According to the latest research by eMarketer, 2017 is predicted to mark a major milestone for digital advertising. For the first time, digital spending will surpass that of TV. That’s no big surprise to us smartphone-savvy consumers – but what does it mean for your marketing budget?

First, a little history. The first official, paid television advertisement aired in the US on 1st July 1941. Since that golden age, however, subscription and online TV has fast eaten into terrestrial’s territory. As one would expect, mobile has a huge part to play in this trend with many more of us watching advertisements on our smartphone or tablet. As consumers, we check – almost constantly – our mobiles for the latest updates and content.

Indeed, the devices on which we consume ads may tell us much about our age and online behaviours. Where did you watch John Lewis’s Christmas ad featuring Buster the Boxer, for example? Was it on the good old-fashioned box, or on your tablet? Did you go the whole festive hog and open up your Snapchat and turn yourself into Buster himself? According to Brandwatch, the advertisement gained 30,683 Twitter mentions just 1 hour 50 minutes after it went on air, showcasing the power of marketing when terrestrial and digital collide.

The idea of digital complementing TV adds further fizz to our viewing experiences in a way that wouldn’t necessarily have been possible to predict – even just a few years ago.

As an example, let’s say you’re watching your favourite TV show and something particularly exciting or shocking takes place: where do you go to judge the reaction? Rarely is it an individual you happen to be sitting with, but more likely hundreds, if not thousands, of other engaged parties via Facebook or Twitter?


Where does this leave marketing professionals and business owners?

When it comes to maximising the power of your budget, digital is very effective. In addition to online TV and the Google network, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all offer digital advertising space, enabling businesses to get their voice out there in many cost effective ways.

We all know first-hand what it’s like to have browsed a couple of websites or left a few items in our shopping carts only for ads to pop near-instantly onto our screen.

Then there are videos. Videos embedded in newsletters or on social media can deliver the engagement of traditional TV advertising from the convenience of a mobile or laptop – from in-the-moment reportage to slick animations and aspirational cinematography.

The rise of digital is also helping companies to engage in valuable two-way communications with their customers. Instantly, messages can be adopted and the response evaluated, resulting in highly relevant interaction.


The merging worlds of digital and TV

So where does this leave TV? Ironically, the growth of digital consumption may, in fact, be creating more opportunities for companies to advertise on TV, with giants such as ITV or Sky offering businesses accessible and affordable options that would’ve been beyond their dreams not so many years ago.

To survive, TV as an advertising platform needs to work with and complement digital. Digital advertising spend may now be surpassing that of TV, but it doesn’t mean TV is, in any way, dead – it just needs to get smarter.