This article was originally published on Forbes
What worked in television advertising a few years ago is no longer a guaranteed success today. Evolving consumer viewing habits, new technology and increased competition are contributing to the digitalization of the industry — and smart marketers are adapting their strategies to align with a changing TV landscape.
But while digital streaming services continue to grow in number and popularity, traditional broadcast or linear TV isn’t obsolete. Marketers are still embracing the potential of linear TV for brand promotion, and current TV ad spend reflects this trend.
Linear TV maintains its place as an important influence in global media, particularly when trying to reach older, and often more affluent, audiences. Most of consumers’ TV watching hours are still viewed through broadcast TV, whether via cable, satellite or the airwaves, and it is the single largest advertising vehicle across all countries and industries, according to a 2021 analysis from McKinsey. Yet many marketers are underutilizing the medium, putting their linear TV strategy on autopilot and neglecting to track performance data and optimize their spend.
1. Look at the data, and analyze the trends.
TV ad spend in the U.S. declined in 2020, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching a total of $60 billion. Spending is projected to increase to $67.5 billion in 2021 and remain steady in the following years.
Investigate your target audiences’ viewing habits. How can you best reach different segments based on their behavior? For instance, is linear TV advertising still effective for reaching baby boomer audiences, while Gen Z and millennial audiences are shifting toward CTV? How can you adjust your ad spend according to the data and forecasts?
2. Don’t think of it as a zero-sum game.
Consumption habits will inevitably change with time and technology, but whether they are watching on cable, Hulu, Netflix or YouTube, audiences will continue to consume video content. Don’t look at linear vs. over-the-top TV as a competition for eyeballs between two forms of media. For example, when consumers started watching more video content on mobile devices, this new habit didn’t take time away from traditional TV. It simply increased the amount of video content viewers were consuming in places they hadn’t before. Stay open-minded about shifts in viewing habits. New trends always open new opportunities for marketers.
3. Align your goals with your audiences.
Adapting to the new TV ecosystem requires recognizing that audiences are more segmented than ever. Identify which media types or delivery mechanisms are appropriate to each campaign or advertiser goal. Linear TV is still the highest-reach medium overall, so it will remain an important part of your media mix if you want to reach the most people. If you want to connect with niche audiences, you can also invest in digital video distribution or micro-segmentation that will allow you to hyper-target those audiences based on demographic information or viewer behavior, though at a higher cost than traditional TV campaigns.
TV advertising is constantly changing, and savvy marketers see this evolution as an opportunity, not a loss. Digital channels have grown in importance and market share in recent years, but there is still room for linear TV in the advertising space. Stay agile, keep adapting and develop linear and digital strategies tailored to each audience.