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Why Online Brands Are Turning On To TV

The start of 2017 has seen plenty of industry headlines about the increased TV advertising spends of digital businesses. Up 8% to a total of £639m in 2016, further growth is forecast and simply put, TV is where the smart money is going.

There are some unique reasons why TV advertising is being realised as the most effective form of brand-building for online businesses. The first is down to the ethereal nature of web-based brands. Take a price-comparison site, for example: there is no physical product, there isn’t even an actual service per se. It’s essentially just aggregated information, and from a marketing perspective, that has zero traction.

TV > Online

TV advertisements, however, provide a tangible consumer touch point: an actual ‘thing’ that an audience can engage with. It’s the same thinking that once put ceramic pigs in the hands of young Natwest customers, and more recently, fluffy meerkats in the arms of people looking to switch insurance. TV ads have a substantiating effect – if the product is virtual, TV makes it seem real.

This leads on to another major advantage of TV: context. Why should a TV ad make something seem more real? Because it’s a singular message, delivered to a receptive audience – so they actually have the chance to react. In reality, online users are focused on something else, busy on-screen, distracted by notifications and alerts. TV audiences are sitting on the sofa with their feet up – watching and listening.

The fact that consumers are always within arm’s reach of an online device doesn’t mean that’s the best way to get their attention. Rather, build the brand on TV – with tried and tested techniques, and use that to kick-start a user journey that continues online. It’s a more impactful way to begin that funnelling of consumers towards the end-transaction, and it’s also a much bigger funnel.

TV reaches a broader market

There are plenty of reasons why hyper-targeting specific demographics seems like a logical approach, Google and Facebook have built themselves on just that. But this isn’t always the best tactic. It eliminates the opportunity to broaden the market – advertisers are stuck with the groups they define. It also means any branding efforts are limited to that cluttered online environment.

Brands are built on so much more than directing a message at an individual. Brands, by definition, can only establish themselves as part of a wider cultural context. There needs to be a broad momentum to boost credibility and, ultimately, effectively influence purchasing decisions. TV can reach a broader audience, with synchronicity, a particular message delivered concurrently to thousands/millions of households.

Although online advertising is gradually moving towards this goal, TV already does it with aplomb. Thinkbox recently estimated that “there are 17 million conversations about TV advertising every evening in UK households.” With these shared experiences brands come alive, and begin to grow.

Consider all this, combined with the ever more effective tracking and analysing that TV agencies can now offer; and it’s no wonder that the likes of Google and Facebook are now exploring ways to emulate the TV ad model. So the next time you see a big brand plastered all over an ad-network enabled fake news website, ponder if that’s really a sensible use of advertising budget… then go and turn on the telly.