So where are we today? Did my previous article have an impact? There are a few advertisers who were very vocal about their significant shift of money from TV to digital over the past two years. (You know who you are.) It doesn't appear to be a coincidence that the majority of these companies have not posted solid sales or earnings quarter after quarter during this timeframe. More than one advertiser, in fact, has begun to invest more money in television, reversing course -- and this appears to be a pattern -- as TV spend has been seen to not only build reach but also enhance the effectiveness of digital. It is no secret the scatter market has seen strength it hasn't enjoyed in several years and I believe a major contributing factor is the renewed appreciation of the role of TV in the media mix.
Do not get me wrong -- this is not a chest pounding exercise, because it would be disingenuous to say TV doesn't have its own set of challenges. In this regard, there is serious room for improvement and I am hopeful that 2016 will be the year of enhanced TV measurement due to Nielsen's Total Ratings efforts and serious competition from the comScore/Rentrak merger.
Over the last year the most frequent stories in the trade press concerning digital media limitations centered around viewability and measurement. From where I sit those shortcomings still exist:
- Viewability: In 2014, Google reported 56.1% of online ads were not seen because they were placed below the fold, outside the viewable area of the screen. Even ads above the fold do not necessarily generate a viewable impression. To date, little progress has been made to switch from served impressions to viewable impressions.
- Measurement: Buyers and sellers are still debating the efficacy of counting a display ad as an impression if only 50% of their pixels are in view for a minimum of one second -- and an online video impression counting after just two seconds.
While viewability and measurement are still massive headaches for clients and digital media, the headlines this year have been stolen by ad fraud and ad blockers. This is like taking a sledge hammer to one of the core tenets of advertising: ad exposure to a human being.
- Ad fraud: Security firm Imperva has reported that 48% of the time ads are viewed not by human beings, let alone the desired target, but by "bots."
- Ad blocking: Pagefair & Adobe report that 16% of total US ads were blocked in 2Q15, with 45 million people using ad blockers.
The IAB has reported that a variety of issues surrounding digital advertising, mainly ad fraud and ad blocking, are costing marketers $18.5 billion a year, $8.2 billion of that in the US.
To be fair, I will reiterate what I said last year, that a balanced media plan that is measurable is best for advertisers. Therefore key digital components should be included because we all root for our clients to succeed. I urge moderation (much like eating carbs and sugar) is fine -- but don't overdo it! Television is so good right now given all the options out there for consumers and advertisers and we are clearly seeing marketers come back to the realization that it is highly effective for them. Again, there is no need for hyperbole -- but on the street and in agency hallways, some of the most influential media buyers are saying their clients may reverse the migration of ad dollars to digital and reinvest in television. Only time will tell.
So once again I call on my friends and colleagues in national TV ad sales and buying to come together and vigorously defend our medium and help our clients succeed.
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