Ignore the Hype: Why Great TV Ads Still Drive Sales

Catalyst Marketing  /  Aug 02, 2018

There is an undeniable trend toward advertisers and marketers changing their budget allocations to put more money into digital. And I think that makes good sense. But. I read a lot of content on LinkedIn and from marketing/advertising focused outlets and I’m starting to see another trend. Lots of extreme, sky-is-falling kinds of statements about the state of traditional advertising, especially TV. Headlines like “TV IS DEAD” or “ADVERTISERS PULL ALL TV DOLLARS IN FAVOR OF DIGITAL SPENDING” will get a lot of attention and clicks. But is it true? Is TV no longer a useful or, dare I say, an effective advertising medium?

I decided to do a little research and see what advertisers are saying. And I am not surprised to find that not only do advertisers still believe in the effectiveness of TV as a medium, but they know that the content itself (ahem, a great ad) is also still necessary in order to be effective.

Let’s unwrap that a bit.

Regarding TV as a medium, I found this study from Advertiser Perceptions that says that a survey of marketers and agency professionals involved in advertising and media decision-making still feel that TV has the biggest impact regardless of product vertical, region, or budget. Wow.


Advertiser Perceptions


On to my second point. Great creative. I believe strongly that you can buy eyeballs but you can’t make ‘em look. What do I mean by that? I mean that you can buy the very best advertising space – say a billboard in Times Square, or a :60 Super Bowl spot. But if you don’t have a compelling story and even more compelling message, those dollars will be wasted because people want to be entertained. And once they’re entertained, they’re engaged. And in advertising’s case, they’re engaged with your brand.

Nielsen and Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) did a study on this very subject. They found that of almost 500 CPG companies that ran advertising in 2016 and 2017, the stronger the creative (for non ad folks, this means the better the advertisement), the greater its contribution to sales lift. Reach (or size of audience reached) was considered to be a much lower contributor to sales lift. So, like I said, you can buy eyeballs in the form of reach, but you can’t make ‘em look without great creative.


Catalina Contribution


By no means am I saying that people should not include digital ads in their media mix. It is an absolutely necessary part of an overall media plan. What I AM saying is, don’t completely cut out TV because you’re concerned about media waste. And don’t skimp on investing in a smart team to tell your brand’s story in a compelling and entertaining way. It will pay off.

You know that song, “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”? Sage advice. Who knew it even applies to the advertising industry?


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