TV advertising has changed quite a bit in recent years. Many have wondered how TV would keep up with the likes of mobile and other fast-paced media sources as the Internet continues to cater to the shortening attention spans of media consumers.
In a seemingly obvious, yet simultaneously not-so obvious turn of events, the television industry has begun to cater to the very same type of audience that seemed to be moving away from watching TV.
TV in 2018
There are a few different statistics that point to the television industry’s change of pace. Television ads on the whole continue to get shorter and shorter. From mid-2017 to mid-2018:
- The length of the average national TV ad decreased by 3%
- The total number of national TV ads of 15 seconds or less increased by 9%
- The amount of five to six-second national TV ads purchased increased tenfold year over year
As television ad running times have gotten shorter, the question has become whether or not there would be a drop, or any effect for that matter, on the amount that brands spend on TV ads.
It might seem that, as ad running times decrease, the overall spend of brands advertising on television would also decrease. Despite these shorter time slots, however, the top advertisers on television are still spending quite a bit on placements.
TV Advertising by the Numbers
From August 2017 to July 2018, the top three TV advertising product categories were Tech, Media and Entertainment, and Pharmaceuticals. Just outside the top three were the Automotive and Restaurant categories.
Let’s look a little deeper at each category and exactly how much they advertised on TV within that time frame:
From August 2017 to July 2018, the Tech product category collectively spent more than any other category that appeared on television, with $6.99 billion in total ad spend. Within that category, the top three brands in terms of ad spend were Verizon Wireless, AT&T Communications, Inc., and T-Mobile USA, Inc., all of which, of course, are major cell phone providers in the United States.
This trend could allude strongly to a change in who continues to spend on TV ads. It may not be a matter of overall decreasing spend across all product categories, but instead a mere change of who is actually spending the lion’s share.
As attention spans continue to shorten and advertisements become more integrated into their surroundings, mobile companies may be able to find terrific ROI by taking advantage of the same characteristics that make mobile advertising so effective.
- Media and Entertainment
Coming in just behind Tech is the Media and Entertainment category, which had $6.80 billion in total ad spend—the second highest by any product category from August 2017 to July 2018.
Two of the top three spending brands within the category are actually television-related brands themselves. In order, the top three media and entertainment advertisers were SlingTV, LLC, NFL Enterprises, LLC, and Hulu Originals.
Television streaming brands continue to target television viewers still connected with cable, not driving them away from television itself, but instead trying to drive them towards TV via the internet, as evident by their still-sizable TV ad spend.
Pharma was the third highest ad spending category from August 2017 to July 2018. In that time frame, the category of brands collectively spent a wicked $6.66 billion on television ads.
Within the pharma category, the top three spending brands were SmileDirectClub, the company known for their invisible braces offering, Entyvio, the prescription medicine for adults with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s, and Xeljanz XR, a medication for adults with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Big Picture
From August 2017 to July 2018, no product category outside of the top three in spend eclipsed the $6 billion mark. With three product categories alone accounting for more than $20 billion in TV ad spend, however, it’s clear that brands are still very willing to spend on the medium despite changes and seemingly unfavorable media trends.
MediaRadar CEO, Todd Krizelman stated, “This data shows us that the biggest brands from the biggest categories—like Verizon, Ford and others—are still spending heavily on linear TV, even if TV is becoming a smaller part of the mix.” He added that, “There’s an unmatched advantage from a brand visibility standpoint that comes with TV buys. It’s also a brand-safe environment, which has been a challenge online.”
In other words, it may be less a matter of brands leaving television, and more so a trend of brands making television a smaller percentage of their advertising mix.
Another large part of the lasting success of television advertising has to do with the industry’s move towards working alongside other blossoming media and ad formats—notably mobile and social media. Instead of trying to combat these rising forces, they have instead embraced them.
Certain television networks have also drawn their attention to implementing more integrated, more engaging TV ads to transform the viewing experience of their audiences. Networks that broadcast live sporting events serve as, perhaps, the best example of this.
What’s to Come?
If 2018 is a sign going forward, it appears that the pulse of television advertising will remain strong, at least for the foreseeable future. As it is with many other digital platforms facing similar obstacles, it is likely that brands will continue to advertise on TV, but will simply do so in different ways.
With brand safety issues still hovering in the online advertising industry, as well, TV can still serve as a safe haven for brands going forward. Furthermore, with new trends like Addressable TV advertising, the industry appears to even be growing.
Addressable TV advertising is a more targeted means of serving ads to television audiences, as opposed to the more traditional, large-scale ad inventory that has widely been used to this point.
In the end, from consistent ad spend, to new formats and new developments, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the television industry will not only survive, but remain a go-to place for many advertisers going forward.