TV or Digital Ads? The Case for Investing in Both

It's not smart to sink all your money into one channel, hoping it will be your company's savior.
TV or Digital Ads? The Case for Investing in Both
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Founder and CEO of Hawke Media
6 min read
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Traditional marketing channels are dead, right? No one watches TV anymore, so why bother putting money into TV spots or other traditional advertising?

Actually, that's not as true as you think. A recent study from the Advertising Research Foundation found that when you increase the number of platforms you advertise on, you increase your ROI by as much as 35 percent. That includes the maligned TV ad spot.

It's easy to find success on one channel and decide to pump most of your budget into it. But, what if things shift? Think about the brands that relied on Myspace for most of their reach. When Myspace disappeared, they had to start from scratch, and many didn't survive. Ultimately, it's not smart to sink all your money into one channel.

Related: Old School Marketing Platforms That Still Resonate in Our Digital World

I get it, though. Running campaigns across multiple channels is hard. Not even one in 10 brand marketers believes he or she could handle the load successfully. It might seem like a lot to take on, but I promise, it will also be totally worth it.

How we doubled our ROI on ad spend

Our company is a great example. We normally spend around $200 to generate a lead, but when we ran TV ads, that number dropped to $100. Believe it or not, TV ads are still the most efficient way to generate new accounts -- four times more efficient than other media, according to MarketShare.

Our experience, though, illustrates why you need both digital and TV. When we ran our first spot, we hadn't built a nurturing funnel. We couldn't deal with the volume of leads; thus, we couldn't convert them. We converted only half the leads, which washed out our 50 percent cut in spending.

Our conclusion? TV still represents the best place and the cheapest price for making a 30-second impression, which is an eternity in today's digital world. In some cases, MediaPost suggests, searches spike as much as 75 percent within two minutes of an ad running. That's a lot of traffic.

On the other hand, as we saw, you need the digital funnel to close the deal. TV gets you the impression and starts sending traffic your way. Digital comes in to assist in turning visitors into conversions.

Master the massive growth equation.

"There is a definite shift in the way television media is being bought and sold," according to Ben Zimmerman, president of Media Design Group.

As Zimmerman said he sees it, "Brands have typically leveraged TV for reach and scale and used digital marketing for targeting, but this is changing.

"You can now tie cookies to set-top boxes, bringing a lot of precision to the TV-buying ecosystem," Zimmerman said. "In essence, it's all about the data. If you can marry the right message with the right environment and timing, all boats will rise. TV and digital, done right, equals massive growth."

However, as most brand marketers know, managing these campaigns isn't a walk in the park. That's why not everyone is pursuing both media channels as a solution. But maybe they should: If you do the same things all your competitors are doing, you'll see the same ROI -- or less.

Here are a few tips to take your marketing across channels:

1. Don't ditch what's already working.

Remember that you're expanding channels, not messages. Don't do something completely different with your TV messaging that you aren't doing on digital.

With our spot, we carried our digital messaging over to TV. We knew it got our target audience's attention when we used phrases like "month to month," "? la carte services" and "outsourced CMO." We had already used digital to test our message, so we understood the right punch words.

Related: What Return to Expect on Your TV Ad Dollar

You can also use digital to test the market itself. Facebook ads are a great way to test demographics because the platform's targeting can be incredibly specific. So, see what works on digital, and then expand the same tactics to TV.

2. Button up your drip campaign (and the rest of the funnel).

Before launching a commercial, test your site to make sure it's set up to convert, with a strong digital funnel to handle all of the leads it generates. Television dumps a lot of traffic into the top of the funnel, but if the rest of it isn't perfect -- including email drip campaigns and banner retargeting -- your conversions won't justify the effort on the TV side.

When Dollar Shave Club turned its viral YouTube video into a TV commercial, for example, its tagline -- "Our Blades Are F****** Great!" -- went on to define all of the company's subsequent communications. Imagine what would have happened if DSC's email manager had created a drip campaign using the phrase "Our Blades Are Pretty Cool!" instead.

Make sure you involve your email marketer in discussions about the commercial to ensure the same messaging and copy are amplified on the email side. Use bite-sized pieces of the TV messaging in your email drip campaign. Then, put the commercial on your site so that when the drip campaign leads people back to your site and they see your digital commercial, it will remind them of why they clicked in the first place.

3. Don't let your commitment issues derail you.

TV is like any other channel -- it's all about impressions. If you're going to do it, don't rest it for just a week and shut it down. It often takes time to see real impact.

Traditionally, Super Bowl ads were sacred ground, tightly guarded and shown only once. That's why, in 2011, when Volkswagen aired its Super Bowl ad before the big game, no one knew quite what to think.

Related: 6 Steps to a Dynamic Multichannel Marketing Strategy That Gets Results

However, the spot had 17 million views before kickoff and became the most shared Super Bowl ad of all time. This backed up the TiVo Research report that found a correlation between a decrease in TV spend and a decrease in sales.

The moral of the story is that good multichannel marketing will always work better than good single-channel marketing. The takeaway? Build a great funnel, and test your site for optimization. Then, expand to TV to fill that funnel with leads.

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