How the Internet Killed the TV Star

I cringe just thinking about the song Video Killed the Radio Star, and hearing it is even worse! I’m willing to wince while I write this post, as that annoying hook is a bit relevant to my point. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this part brief so you don’t get that whiney tone stuck in your head.

When Video Killed the Radio Star released in 1979 it was sending a message. Yes, its message was so obvious it’s in the title and repeated over-and-over as the hook of the song. It was the first music video to air on MTV, another sign of its message that media was changing - as music was becoming television.

While I hate the song, I do agree that - video - television killed radio. Now the internet forcing another paradigm shift. I know, this is the exact opinion you’d expect a digital marketer to have, but it’s not only me. The Wall Street Journal shares my same opinion. In fact, they’re projecting that this year, 2016 will be when brands spend more money on digital advertising than television ads. You also see the trends of mobile continuing to rise, which I mention only to show how brands reach consumers will continue to change – basically it’s more complex than just the internet. As more consumers run local searches Brands will increase spends specifically on Local-Mobile advertising, in fact that category alone is anticipated to increase by 56% this year to a total of $6.7Billion.


Oh, just in case you don’t trust The Wall Street Journal and read The New York Times instead, well they made the same projection last winter, here it is.

You might be thinking that people on our team have already blogged about the shift from traditional to digital. I guess they have, kinda. The Persuasion Equation Equals Marketing Results does touch on the shift away from traditional advertising and a movement towards digital, but the article is really about how to reach your target audience, and less about why this shift is happening - So this is different.

I’m talking specifically about Brands transitioning their television ad budgets to digital marketing:

  • Ruffles Potato Chips: In 2013 digital advertising accounted for only 29% of its advertising budget, today Ruffles spends 100% of its ad dollars on digital. That’s right, they’ve completely eliminated television ad campaigns.
  • Under Armor Just last year was spending 70% of ad dollars on television and only 30% on digital has shifted to a 50% - 50% split between the two platforms in 2016.
  • Even restaurants like Quiznos stopped its TV campaigns, and Chipotle who has only run a handful of television ads feels the traditional platform misses the mark. Both Brands are solely digital advertising today.

Super Bowl Television Ads Are Declining Too

Yes, the crown jewel of television advertising is also subject to this shift. 80% of Super Bowl commercials are ineffective and do not increase sales for the companies running them. Brands are forgoing the cost of the pricy, entertaining spots for strategies that provide more business value. Godaddy, a regular Super Bowl advertiser did not buy a pricey television spot during the 2016 game, ending its run of airing risqué ads every year since 2005. Expect to see more Super Bowl regulars to opt out in future as they recognize the costly ads don't deliver the same ROI as digital.

Those who stay, will change their style similar to Frito-Lay. They’re proof that the icon of traditional advertising has gone digital – even for the Super Bowl, the granddaddy of traditional TV ads.

Frito-Lay’s Crash the Super Bowl campaigns cannot exist without the ability to interact with consumers through the web. Their new style campaign essentially crowdsources their Super Bowl ads by having a contest to air fan-made commercials. I know, they’re still airing television commercials… My point is Frito Lay is making its digital channels the keystone of their marketing by having fans submit and share their commercial. This strategy also allows them to take advantage of data and flexibility benefits that only digital strategies can provide. I anticipate other companies will do more of the same in future Super Bowl ads showing how “engagement” is the new form of advertising.


Why Brands Are Making the Shift

Okay, so there are A LOT of reasons companies are making bigger investments in digital advertising. I’ll start with the fact that television viewers are watching less commercials. A study shows 60% of viewers download or record shows so they can skip the commercials.

Beyond the technology of DVRs, consumers are simply turning to the internet more often than ever before. It’s where they go to find information, so commercials are no longer a source to teach them about products or services. Even better, digital advertising provides key benefits where traditional TV ads cannot.


1. Data

If you’re in marketing, you’ve likely heard this expression:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
A saying made famous in the early twentieth-century by a department store mogul, John Wanamaker. For him, and still with many forms of traditional advertising, this is true. However, digital marketing has changed the game. Digital advertising provides advanced data beyond any television metrics allowing every digital campaign to be effectively measured to attribute success (or failure), and accurately determine an ROI.


2. Greater Flexibility

Television ads are a production, literally. They require teams of people: writers, producers, videographers, editors, set crew, on-camera talent, creative, wardrobe, make-up and more. They also require a location, long lead-time and high price to complete.

Whereas digital advertising takes less time, people and money to get into market. It provides flexibility for testing and optimizing for the best results possible. Something that is extremely hard to execute with the resources required for television ads.


3. Advanced Technology

Don’t get me wrong, TV is cool technology. The fact that I can press a button on a remote control and watch live or recorded programs is pretty amazing. But in today’s fast-paced era of people on the go – TV is a boat anchor! Yes, I said it, and if you doubt me, when was the last time you ever took your television outside your home? And when was the last time you traveled with your computer, tablet or smartphone?

I think I made my point. Advanced technology is more than the hardware mentioned, it’s beacons, push notifications, email and SMS texts to reach your target audience. Plain and simple, the advanced technology allows you to reach your target audience on their schedule.


4. It’s Meets People in Places Where They’re Already Going

I think I’ve already made this point, so I don’t want sound repetitive. But how many times do you check your phone every day? Be honest, many of us even do this during work meetings, conversations with friends, even at dinner with our families – so yeah, mobile digital advertising is where your audience is. Now how many times do you check your email every day? And where is the first place you go to research anything – if you don’t say Google, I’m calling shenanigans! (Okay, 21% of you might’ve said Bing – if you really believe their market share numbers). So I’ve made my point. Brands are making greater investments in digital because it’s the best way to reach their target audience. If you’re not investing in digital now, what are you waiting for?


Don’t Be Late to the Digital Marketing Party

I threw around the term digital like everyone knows what it is and anyone can do it. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. Digital marketing is sophisticated and requires a solid understanding of strategy and tactics to reach your target audience.

If you’re looking to get started, check out Marketing in the Age of the Carefully Considered Decision. It’s 40-page guide to help you get started using a variety of proven digital strategies to enhance your advertising (and marketing) ROI.