TV Ads Are Better Than Online Video Ads (and How to Build a Great One)

Is there really a difference between TV ads and online video ads? If you ask consumers, the answer is a resounding yes: 63% of consumers say they trust the ads they see on television, whereas just 48% say they trust video ads they see online, according to a Nielsen survey.

Online ads are annoying because they interrupt what the consumer is trying to accomplish. Television commercials aren’t perfect, but people accept them because they’re already sitting in front of a television passively consuming entertainment.

Even if the content of an online video is the same as that of a TV commercial, customers will react more positively to the televised advertisement.

Why TV Is Still Relevant

Some companies presume television ads are no longer worth the investment, but that simply isn’t the case. Although online ads serve their purpose, there are important reasons for marketers to stay on the airwaves.

First, television allows you to reach more people for a lower price per person. Although commercials are not as targeted as online ads, they manage to get the message across to consumers without breaking the bank: Television ads remain the most effective advertising medium, according to a 2014 MarketShare study.

What’s more, TV ads require less from consumers. Online ads often request some sort of engagement, usually in the form of a click or a form to fill out, and they wrestle for attention with the rest of the content on the page. Whereas online requires consumers to “lean forward” to engage, television asks consumers to do nothing but “lean back” and devote their relaxed attention to the screen. Consumers aren’t avoiding TV ads, either: Television viewers typically consume 73 minutes of TV commercials per day, Nielsen says.

Waiting 30 seconds for a YouTube video to load while an ad plays can seem like an eternity — much longer than the interval between one part of a television program and the next feels when viewers are eager to see a show’s outcome. Because people are generally more willing to spend time consuming an ad on television, the odds that they will try out or purchase the advertised product increase by 16 percentage points.

Still not convinced that television marketing works? Just ask Dollar Shave Club: It used a national television ad campaign to double its subscribers.

In short, television viewers are easier to persuade, cost less to reach, and pay more attention than their online counterparts. If you want to spend less and bring in more customers, look no further than the flat-screen TV in the living room.

Make the Most of Your TV Spot

To get the maximum impact from your 30-second TV spot, you need to stand out from the commercials bookending your own. So take the following steps to make your ad memorable and inspire customers to remember (and purchase from) your company:

  1. Do your research. Even though television ads are more effective than digital ones, online ads can be a great resource for learning about your customer base. It’s cheaper to try a few small online ads and track the metrics than to purchase multiple TV spots, so use digital avenues to learn about your customers before launching your televised campaign.
  2. Get your message down. What sells people on your brand? Why do they prefer your company to others in your industry? Answer those questions, and then relay your findings in a concise, simple way that customers will remember. If you can’t articulate your brand message quickly, customers won’t remember you when the show returns. Use humor or an iconic character to create a lasting impression.
  3. Bring in the best to build the best. If your company doesn’t have a rock star TV marketer on staff, outsource one. The better your final ad, the higher your returns will be, so don’t skimp on creating the best spot possible. Decide what you want to communicate, develop the structure internally, and then work with a capable consultant to bring your vision to life.

    When searching for outside video help, don’t trust the demo reel. Anyone can scrape together a minute or two of good-looking content. Instead, look at the recent TV spots the firm has developed for others. That may mean checking out the company’s various social media pages to ensure that what you’re seeing gives you a good idea of what the company is producing at the moment. The quality of a company’s latest work should give you a good indication of what you will receive if you work with it.

  4. Execute your strategy. Put the right content in front of the right audience in the right time slot. Partnering with a good media company can help you position your ad for maximum impact. The more you put into your commercial, the more you will get out of it, so don’t skimp at the last minute and stick a brilliant ad in a spot where no one will appreciate it.

TV Front and Center

If you’re about to send an email to your team to cancel all of your digital contracts and go fully televised—don’t. Digital advertising has its place, just like printed collateral, social media, and experiential marketing do.

None of those media, however, can match the selling power of television. Build and implement a strategy with your TV ad at its center for a more effective, cost-friendly ad campaign and position your brand for greater success.

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