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"TV still the best medium for brand advertising," says columnist Samuel Scott

08-March-2018
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"TV still the best medium for brand advertising," says columnist Samuel Scott

Global marketing speaker and Columnist at The Drum, Samuel Scott was recently in Mumbai for an event where his keynote address was on 'TV is not dying - It's lies, damn lies and bad media statistics.' Defining the term 'Television,' he asked if it is any long-form entertainment programming over video or is it a specific physical box that sits in our living rooms? or is it both?

"As a former journalist, I believe in using precise definitions whenever I speak or write about the marketing and media industries. Here, I will argue that 'television' refers both to both cases and that both of those cases are not in any immediate, critical danger," said Scott.

He added that the first rule in propaganda is- if you want people to believe a lie, then just repeat it over and over again. "First, marketers were subjected to constant reports that commercial TV will soon 'die' because of TiVo and commercial-skipping. Then they moved to cord-cutting millennials who prefer Netflix and then citing the alleged swing today of advertising dollars from offline to online, which I will show later is not exactly true," he said.

Scott recalled that last year, he saw some reports mentioning that the alleged last bastion of traditional TV - sports - is going to surrender because, in one example, Amazon started to stream American football. "Call me crazy, but ad-supported television still seems to be around. The death of TV continues not to happen. Something does not add up," he said.

He had a pertinent point to make that his eye-rolling and face-palming must be excused when CEOs of competing mediums and tactics write columns insisting that TV and advertising are dead or when the company that owns YouTube says that YouTube is preferred over TV. He asked, "I mean, really, what do you expect them to say?"

According to comScore's latest comprehensive report on the use of various TV platforms in the United States, Live TV consists of 84 per cent of total TV viewing time. Only 15 per cent of households are "streaming only." Most who use streaming services, do so as a supplement to traditional TV and not as a replacement. For every hour that is viewed on streaming services, people watch more than five hours of live television. Live TV still dominates, even among the heaviest users of streaming television.

When Amazon broadcast its first American football game, the total average audience was 15 million people. 98 per cent watched on live TV and only 2 per cent watched on Amazon. He said, "TV is not 'dying.' Anyone who says differently is selling something. The marketing industry has its own 'fake news' problem. Too many marketers, especially in digital marketing, accept what is said in our industry's echo chamber without thinking critically or asking for evidence. That's where I come in."

He said that in India, from what he researched before coming here, he saw that the country's economic growth makes it a TV powerhouse. Indians are moving away from large families living together and going towards nuclear families living in flats. "If there is one TV per household, then that means the number of televisions is increasing. 16 years ago, one-third of Indian households had TVs. Today, close to two-thirds of households own TV sets. From 2015 to 2017, there was a 19 per cent increase to 183 million TV households in India. That means that more people are watching TV in India than all of Europe combined," explained Scott.

Even in terms of brand recall, TV is the leader over online digital video platforms and news websites. Now, why is TV so effective in brand advertising whereas digital is not? The answer comes down to the principles of signalling versus targeting. "TV is very good at signalling. Digital is very good at targeting," said Scott.

Advertisements on television take up the entire screen but it is not so on YouTube or Facebook that take up 30 per cent or 10 per cent of the screen respectively.
"These two factors- attention and coverage- make TV a much better advertising medium than YouTube or Facebook. Much of marketing has been governed by the 60:40 rule; that 60 per cent of your spend should aim to build the brand for the long term and 40 per cent should aim to get sales in the short term. Well, 60 per cent is best spent on traditional mediums such as television. Today, TV is generally still the best medium for brand advertising to grow the fruit," added Scott.

"Digital is very good at direct response campaigns that identify, target and track consumers online. Most so-called marketing innovations in the Adtech, Martech, and AI worlds simply seem to be new ways to do direct response. And why is that? Digital is not a good medium for building brands. TV is larger than ever before. There is a lot more TV being produced today than there was in the days of every country having only a few networks. Total TV viewing time is unchanged but that time is fragmented among numerous channels and programs. A media buy for any given program will reach fewer people, yes, but it will also cost less. That means that your TV ad budget can be more flexible and dynamic and spread across numerous channels and programs," he said.

Scott also delved on the topic of fraud in digital, which simply cannot exist on TV, radio and print. "Within the online advertising world, there is a crisis around viewability issues, bots and outright fraud that does not exist on TV. Unlike the digital ad world, TV and radio's numbers, as well as print circulations, are reported and then audited by independent third parties. Unlike the online ad world, TV, print and radio average numbers represent actual human beings. TV does not use any tracking or online surveillance marketing, which is causing many people to block Internet advertising. This is what you should be telling anyone who advocates turning away from the TV and towards digital ads," he said.

Scott concluded his address by saying that there is no such thing as 'traditional marketing' and there is no such thing as 'digital marketing.' "There is only marketing. We are all doing marketing and we are all simply doing it over various online and digital mediums in the process. We can do tactics such as brand advertising, public relations and direct marketing over traditional or online channels. We should not be digital-first or offline-first. We should be channel neutral and use the best media mix as the customer-facing research determines. In terms of brand advertising, I am very happy to report today that TV is still clearly the best way to go. TV is most certainly not dead, and I hope you will remember that for the rest of this conference and beyond," Scott summarised.

Tags Television Amazon Prime Video digital advertising Netflix Twitter facebook Samuel Scott

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