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How to Choose Between Digital and TV?

The Answer is Simple: You Don’t

Meredith Cunningham Published: July 6, 2017

With the mass amounts of advertising options available to marketers today, choosing the best option for your business can be overwhelming. You desire the best bang for your buck, but you also need to see a return on your investment. For many advertisers, it comes down to decisions like choosing between TV and digital … but who’s to say that you have to choose one over the other?

A “one or the other” mindset might not offer the best return or success. In fact, we’ll tell you exactly why you should aim for using both digital and TV advertising together instead of choosing just one.

Why TV Matters

The numbers show that TV is as important and valued as ever before because of its consistency and effectiveness in delivering ROI to advertisers. According to a report from CNBC’s Catalyst, “Google, Facebook and Netflix spent 60% of their marketing budgets on TV ads in the UK.” This same trend holds true in the U.S. and other countries around the world. If these heavy hitters that represent the digital world we live in are heavily investing in TV advertising, it’s a good indication that others should continue to do so, too.

Other research has found a direct correlation between a decrease in TV ad spend and a decrease in sales. But, just because there’s strong evidence for TV advertising ROI, that doesn’t mean it can’t be enhanced by expanding your campaigns into other channels.

Why Digital is a Must-Have

We live in a digital society, no doubt about it. People are glued to their devices for both work and play, and there’s no mistaking the power of digital advertising. As a marketer, if you are not implementing digital advertising into your marketing mix, you’re missing an incredible opportunity. Numbers from eMarketer show that digital ad spend in 2018 is expected to reach $93.18 billion, with that number swelling to $113.18 billion in 2020. This isn’t just a trend—these numbers are growing because when done right, digital advertising can be incredibly effective for businesses large and small.

Using These Strategies Together

As digital continues to prove its effectiveness and TV remains an advertising staple, weaving these strategies together into a multi-channel marketing program is a powerful way to improve your marketing results.

What does this look like? Cross-promotion, engagement and branding are key focus areas:


Digital and TV advertising can offer a mutually beneficial relationship that will directly impact your bottom line. A study by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) shows that brands on average can increase return on investment 19% by increasing from one media platform to two. That same study found that using a budget with 78% spending on traditional media to 22% digial worked best for audiences as a whole.

We suggest using digital channels to promote your TV content. Why? Think about it this way. People interested in what you promote via TV will search for more information on social media or an online search engine.

Further driving home why cross-promoting is your best bet, the ARF’s “How Advertising Works” study found that “across categories, the addition of digital to a TV campaign introduces a lift in ROI three times as great as the addition of either radio or print.”

Create Shareable Content

TV advertising can increase engagement with your creative and the shareability of your content on digital channels. A strong call-to-action that captures the target audience’s attention and drives traffic to the shareable content on your digital channels can help promote these efforts. For example, if you are currently airing an ad on TV, think about adding it to your YouTube Channel, Facebook or other social sites. Having content that is easily shareable will encourage people to interact with it more.

Be Consistent with Your Branding and Messaging

The importance of a consistent message with creative that’s produced specific to the advertising channel can’t be stressed enough. If your message is not consistent, your target audience might miss it. They might come across your ad multiple times and not recall or retain it because it was not familiar and they didn’t recognize it. A study by the Advertising Research Foundation found that a campaign’s unified creative strategy across platforms is key to the return on the investment, but to ensure optimal engagement, each creative element should be tailored to fit the platform.

What You Can Expect from TV + Digital

The Advertising Research Foundation studied 5,000 global ad campaigns and digested 12 years of data to find that the more platforms your business utilizes in its advertising strategy, the higher ROI it can expect. In fact, “it’s the combination of TV and digital that’s the most powerful of them all with 60% greater ROI.”

We know the importance of delivering ROI with your marketing campaigns, and choosing to utilize both TV and digital advertising together can prove beneficial. Don’t waste time trying to decide on one or the other. Marry these strategies to reach your marketing goals faster and smarter.

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