TV advertising is back, thanks to social media

It was only a year or two ago when TV advertising was on its way out, or at least down. DVRs, the web and new distractions such as Facebook were going to make old- fashioned advertising less relevant.

Well guess what? It’s just the opposite.  As media gets more and more fragmented, TV remains the only truly scalable option. Want broad reach quickly? TV advertising is the way to go and the numbers are proving it. Spending is up, Super Bowl spots are selling earlier than ever, and more and more big brands are increasing their commitments.

While none of that is surprising, what’s worth noting is this. It might be the likes of Twitter that’s getting more people to tune into live TV instead of watching it later on-demand.

It wasn’t much of a revelation in January when Nielson and Yahoo let us know that 86% of U.S. mobile Internet users watch TV with their devices in hand. But when you consider that 40 percent say they’re using their devices for social networking, or take note of the fact that the Super Bowl inspired upwards of 4000 tweets per second during parts of the game, it becomes apparent that instead of steering people away from TV, social media — the desire to weigh in, converse, and see what your community has to say — is helping resurrect it.

Fast Company may have been right when they suggested that Twitter could be TV’s killer app, cross pollinating the stream with live programming to create a truly interactive experience.

So what does this mean for advertisers? Did things just get easier? Can we all go back to buying 30-second TV spots?

Not so fast. The fact that everyone’s on a device while they’re watching a program makes it less likely they’re paying attention to ads, unless, of course, those ads are equally engaging and encouraging conversation as well.  The web, instant access to information, and a reliance on search might free marketers from producing boring, fact dominated messages, but even the most creative executions probably need a way to engage consumers, from something as simple as a hashtag, to a concept that is, ideally, more immersive.

While predicting anything these days is a pretty futile exercise — it was only eight years ago when Mel Karmizan assured us that Google would fail because it was fucking with the magic, referring to the relationships that dominated how advertising was bought and sold — here’s what I think we can expect.

Brands will create more complex forms of advertising

If we’re all to engage and talk about the advertising, it can’t be boring or limited to outbound messages. We need more interactive, conversation-inspiring ideas that invite our participation. Think Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion. More and more ads will include hashtags, start conversations and seek true consumer involvement, extending the story beyond the thirty-second spot.

Integrated agencies will have an advantage

We’ve seen the trend toward specialized media, digital and social media agencies reach its zenith. It’s pretty hard to get all of these disciplines to work seamlessly together inside one company, never mind across multiple agencies.  Granted there are exceptions, but agencies that unite creative, media (paid, earned, owned) and digital will prevail.

Marketers will have to master true engagement

Most marketers continue to enter social media as if it’s a cheap place to stick messages, whether on Facebook or Twitter.  Why else is Facebook (and soon Twitter) making such an effort to educate brands on what to do after they’ve acquired all those like clicks?  Even Old Spice forgot that about it’s million followers after so brilliantly attracting them all. If advertisers expect social media to generate interest in their TV spots, they’ll need to get better at adding value to the conversation. Hint: discounts won’t be enough to build real loyalty.

Earned and paid media will need to work more seamlessly

This will be a tough one for agencies (and brands) that don’t have social oriented PR divisions made up of people who know how to listen, engage and interact in real time, focusing less on cleverness and more on support, responsiveness and interaction. The trick will be how to combine the Facebook and Twitter paid efforts with genuine conversation that keeps people coming back and paying attention. Those that get it will retain more followers and convert them to advocates.

Twitter will finally go mainstream

Every media property, blog and website by now has a link to Twitter with the annoying request “follow us on Twitter.”  The words alone suggest that the consumer wants to show up for no other reason than to receive updates or messages.  But as more and more TV shows and advertisers invite participation and opinion via the micro-blogging platform, they’ll do as much to drive the familiarity with Twitter as Twitter does to keep live TV going.

It’s ironic that advertising, which resisted getting digital and social while enduring the criticism of its increasing irrelevance by those newer media platforms, should now be back in driver’s seat.  Certainly keeps things interesting.

 

16 comments
rose7
rose7

Well I am big fan of TV and I cannot live without it. But my children are not watching TV, computer users only. I hope that TV will never go away. Thanks

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Forex brokers
Forex brokers

Hi.Interesting post ,now thanks to you I figure it out that the social media is the reason why TV advertising is back.You have a great style to write and this is why I will come back to read your posts.

KlaudiaJurewicz
KlaudiaJurewicz

companies will have to change the way they are creating TV ads. I agree - more interactive, not boring. I think that it's the end (for now) of "buy our product - is the best" kind of commercials. Now viewers (who have access to the tv ad via social media platforms) want something different.

portrait artist
portrait artist

Portrait Artist

Quite a large view of TV advertising. I agree that there is a large zavrashtane in this industry.

Brian Spencer
Brian Spencer

Saying Twitter saved TV is like saying potato chips saved TV. TV didn't need to be "resurrected" by social or mobile media. We're just adding new habits to our TV addiction.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman

Tv is good for sports and that's all. Who has time for tv, besides anyone who can afford to buy anything works.

Zimmerman
Zimmerman

Radio is still where it is at. More frequency, less dollars, no costly production. It has been here longer than tv and is stronger than ever.

jrmadsen
jrmadsen

I'm now hesitant to add social media to a campaign if the client doesn't understand real engagement and value on the back end. It's like inviting everyone to a party that isn't happening.

jaavery
jaavery

Your point about the choreography required to integrate all the channels rings true for me. I remember when people said big agencies were going to die (along with TV). Now they're more important than ever.

Yourdirtymind1
Yourdirtymind1

TV never went away. The ratings have been consistently high for years. It was just the advertisers who were so eager to save a few bucks by jumping on the latest trendy bandwagon that were deluded into thinking TV was dead (and in the process of their blindness almost made it so). They pulled their dollars out of television and invested them in so-called viral campaigns, thinking they would win the lottery instead of paying a fair price for their exposure. Now, the smart ones are back in what is still the most powerful single medium that advertising has to offer.

CarolWeinfeld
CarolWeinfeld

Interesting trend. Yes, marketers will have to engage consumers more and media must be integrated. We must follow closely how consumers use technology. They certainly are keeping marketers on their toes.

@clweinfeld

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@jaavery None other than Winston Binch, who just left Crispin for Deutsch claims that the future of all things digital lies in traditional agencies.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@Yourdirtymind1 Agree it never went away, just lost some of its shine. And not only are smart ones back, anyone who needs scale is there, too. But the smart ones know how to unite broadcast with all the new stuff going on.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Media fragmentation has made TV the safest bet when trying to capture a broader target audience especially with microblogging services such as Twitter which are able to spread, propagate and grow conversation all around the web; chances are that anything seen on TV will be talked about online. This feeds into the “miss it, miss out” mentality of live TV where if you don’t watch the latest episode of the X Factor, EastEnders or Doctor Who you’re likely to be left out of the conversation loop entirely. With 80% of surveyed Britons under the age of 25 using mobile devices (72% on Twitter, Facebook or mobile apps) while watching TV to communicate with friends, participation in the conversation zeitgeist is reason enough to watch TV. [...]