Why TV Ad Spend is Holding Tight in the Budget Wars


ADOTAS – Everyone in the digital advertising industry knows that the Holy Grail is moving TV budgets to digital budgets. Online video consumption rates continue to rise and advertisers are eager to capture that share of the market. Some recent research even claims that Internet video ads are more effective than traditional TV ads. But, as anyone in charge of an advertising budget knows, shifting gears from TV to digital can be slow-going.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons why TV budgets are slow to move. The first is that many marketers are traditionalists. Since the era that “Mad Men” has so accurately brought back to life, TV has been king.  CMOs love the warm and fuzzy feeling they get when they turn on the TV and see their brand on the screen.

The second reason is that TV allows businesses to get in front of the right audience at the right time. When it comes to building brand awareness, there’s nothing better than buying television ad space. You want to find an audience full of music-lovers? Just buy ad space during American Idol or X-Factor and your brand can appear during those shows like a huge billboard. You want to target people who like sports? Just buy space during an NFL game or Sports Center.

The Billboard Effect

The concept of billboards – physical or virtual – is still very easy to understand and apply to the bottom line. You buy ad space during prime time and your brand appears in front of that audience, at the right time. Digital just doesn’t work that way, because the Internet is fragmented and personalized; My experience online is different than your experience online. My Facebook news feed is different than yours, the things I search are different than the things you search. When traditional display ad tactics don’t catch an audience’s interest – or are unable to target a sizeable audience,- execution is much harder and budgets stay smaller.

On the Internet, you can’t just put up a huge sign and get in front of your audience, like you can with TV. You can buy space on NFL.com and CNN.com and FOX, but the reality is that you just can’t reach the same scale. It’s also nearly impossible to ensure that contextual and relevant TV moment – like when your ad appears in front of music lovers right before their favorite contestant sings on “American Idol.”

Making Prime-Time About Real-Time

Real-time advertising can solve the problem of fragmentation across digital channels. If you can discover what your audience is talking about in real-time and quickly enough to place your ads within that channel, then you can appear in front of your audience with the right content, in the right place, at the right time. With real-time advertising, you get to be prime time, all the time.

Of course, real-time on that scale means that a media planner can no longer plan for everything. Advertisers need technology to adapt, as only technology can scan the internet at scale. What’s needed is a platform that can automatically bid and place ads in real-time based on audience behavior and consumption habits… and allow advertises to automatically modify their creative at any given moment for any given user.

When this is possible, the reign of the TV ad may finally be over, because it will be possible to reach everyone where their attention is most engaged – the channel of their personal prime time – with innovative, contextual advertising that keeps them engaged.


  1. Real Time video buying may simply expose the advertiser to the fraud that is now part of the display market.

    On TV the CMOs can have a warm and fuzzy feeling when they see their brand on the screen rather then send their $$ to real time video bot nets.


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