As technology gives people additional media choices, more are going beyond traditional cable—switching from Hulu to Netflix to YouTube to Facebook Live to Amazon Prime to On Demand and so on.
That has resulted in people, especially younger people, spending less time watching television.
In fact, weekly time spent among adults 25–34 watching live TV has declined by more than 33 percent since 2011, and adults 35–49 time spent has dropped by nearly a quarter. With these people watching far less TV, ratings had nowhere to go but down.
That said, this information is not cause for cutting the cord on TV advertising. Even though investing in TV alone cannot efficiently deliver the audience scale it could five years ago, nothing has come along that can replace it. In fact, television still provides a significant reach opportunity, one unmatched by any other medium.
These days, the way people are consuming television reveals that media investments aren’t a matter of yes or no, but an issue of choice. The proof is in this snapshot of prime-time viewing for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, which shows the live ratings for the five major networks.
And of those watching TV, only 24 percent were watching the five major networks live, and roughly 30 percent were watching a cable network. The other 46 percent were using their televisions in a wide array of other entertainment pursuits. They were playing something back on their DVR, watching Video On Demand or any one of the Over The Top (OTT) video services like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
The point is they were exercising choices that made it difficult for us to reach them with a local television buy. It’s not that people did not have access to these networks; they just chose not to watch them.
Research from GfK MRI suggests as many as 30 percent of millennials are cord-free, either because they “cut the cord” or never had one to begin with. But viewers are still watching broadcast TV even without a Pay TV subscription.
While the number of Pay TV subscribers continues to decline slowly, the number of TV HouseHold’s (HH) is actually on the rise. So what’s a TV advertiser to do? Or rather, what choices should they make?
In today’s media environment, it’s more critical than ever to invest in a mix of media. Here are a few tips your brand should bear in mind when allocating advertising dollars for TV properties:
- Start with a base of broadcast TV, either locally or nationally, then build on TV’s reach with a reasonable cable schedule that more closely matches your sales or service distribution.
- Complement these TV buys with digital media video impressions (e.g, YouTube pre-roll or in-stream native) to increase frequency among younger demographic groups—and be sure to leverage available targeting parameters to prioritize high potential targets.
- Finally, evaluate emerging TV technologies to determine how they complement your TV strategy. Hulu is the one and only OTT service that currently has advertising opportunities, but is struggling to price their video impressions competitively. As a result, more advertisers are choosing to deliver their shortened video messages through social media channels.
As Addressable TV—the ability to show different ads to different households while they are watching the same program—becomes available across more households, it may offer another way to increase message repetition against high potential prospects.
What you can do now, though, is leverage alternative video audiences to extend reach and repetition for your TV messages. Whether your target is still using rabbit ears or is all about live streaming, there’s a path to reaching them in a smart and impressionable way.