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Why Linear TV Advertising Is Thriving in 2018

September 27th, 2018   ||    by Todd Wasserman   ||    No Comments

Linear TV advertising has been declared dead for at least 15 years. According to Adweek, a 2003 report from The Yankee Group, for instance, was entitled “The Death of the 30-Second Commercial.” In 2018, the 30-second spot is still going strong.

There are several reasons why linear TV advertising persists. Viewers still prefer watching live events—like sports and awards shows—on TV. Rather than disappearing, TV has evolved to become a central focus in an omnichannel advertising strategy. Another reason is that as the media landscape becomes more and more fractured, linear TV is one of the few mediums that can regularly gather large audiences.

The Focal Point of Omnichannel

WARC, a global advertising researcher, noticed something unusual about the campaigns it has judged most effective over the past few years—an increasing number are centered around TV. An ACN Newswire press release from the company found that from 2013-2016, the percentage of such effective campaigns “has steadily increased,” while the percentage of social-led campaigns fell. WARC credited “the wealth of recent research suggesting that marketers should use TV to ensure maximum reach.”

More recently, WARC cited research from Dr. Karen Nelson-Field that found that TV commanded more attention than YouTube and Facebook. The research was based on an app that measured viewers’ attention (based on where their eyes focused).

That focus is the reason why TV is often the catalyst for online engagement with a brand. The Television Bureau of Advertising cited a study that found that 65 percent of consumers search a product or service they saw on TV.

Auto advertisers noticed this trend as well. According to a study cited by Broadcasting & Cable, 11 of the 25 top-spending auto companies saw an increase in unique visitors to their websites when they increased their TV spending.

People Are Still Watching TV

The average American spends 12 hours, 1 minute a day consuming media. A large share of that time—just shy of four hours—goes to TV, according to eMarketer. While an increasing amount of that time is spent consuming OTT content, a 2017 J.D. Power survey also showed that viewing for “destination” TV programs that run at an appointed time is up. For example, the most-watched TV program of 2017 was Sunday Night Football with 18.5 million viewers last year, per Business Insider. Regularly scheduled TV programming continues to draw large audiences.

Legacy Media Persists—Look at Radio

Radio predated TV and TV was viewed as a radio killer when it emerged. But that hasn’t happened. A 2018 Nielsen survey found that despite TV, Spotify, podcasts, and satellite radio, some 93 percent of Americans tune in to AM/FM radio each month.

There are many possible reasons: Radio is a great way to discover new music without having to look for it, it’s a passive medium that doesn’t require any searching on the listener’s part, and it’s ubiquitous. The same could be said for linear TV. If linear TV—and linear TV advertising—really is headed for oblivion, someone needs to tell that to the 93 percent of people who still tune into terrestrial radio.

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