Audience Wars: TV and Online Advertisers Want Your Attention—And They’re Using Each Other to Get It

One of the most talked-about issues in the marketing space is advertiser budgets—and where they’re going. Online video? Traditional television? Most of the reports are all over the board. However, when it comes to promoting television shows or online programs, advertisers are actually fighting for one another’s audience.

This tug-of-war is entertaining, to say the least. Television show promoters are trying to pull online audiences back to traditional TV and online program advertisers are attempting to pull television audiences online. So where does that leave consumers? Somewhere in the middle, I suppose. Let’s take a look at the stats.

According to a June 2014 study by Mixpo and PromaxBDA, 90% of television stations are using digital channels for tune-in advertising (i.e. marketing and promotion of television programming to drive ratings). Year-over-year tune-in advertising budgets allocated for online marketing have increased 33% and now make up 24% of stations’ entire budgets.

Surprisingly, a higher percentage (90%) of respondents believed they could measure the effectiveness of digital media well, compared with only 86% that said they could measure the effectiveness of traditional media well. The image below displays the metrics participants use to measure the effectiveness of each.

Measuring Effectivness

So television stations are confident that they can measure digital advertising, but why the steep increases in online spending? The biggest benefit of an effective online tune-in advertising program, as cited by 77% of respondents, is the ability to reach viewers on their phones and tablets.

Benefits of Online Advertising TV Stations

Americans are now spending 151 minutes each day on smartphones, and 44% of daily screen time in the U.S. in now spent on smartphones and tablets. It’s no wonder, then, that stations are using these channels to draw viewers back to their television sets. One ad format that seems to be performing exceptionally well for TV station advertisers is online video—Mixpo and PromaxBDA report that 86% of stations that advertise online will use video this year.

Stations that combine online video and mobile audiences are seeing above-average completion rates for their tune-in ads: 87.7% for smartphones and 82.4% for tablets (Rhythm NewMedia).

On the other side of the audience war stands YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world. Like any other site, YouTube is constantly looking to increase its audience. Earlier this year, YouTube created an ad campaign to promote three of its popular personalities: Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota and Rosanna Pansino.

You would think that as an online video site, YouTube would stick to digital advertising. For this campaign, however, the site also utilized TV, magazines and out-of-home advertising. According to Google, YouTube’s TV ads ran on a few national shows, including programs on The CW and ABC Family, and on local broadcasts in New York and Chicago.

Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR, wrote an article for ReelSEO in which he thoroughly outlined the results of this cross-channel campaign. For each YouTube star, video views and subscribers increased significantly.

“The YouTube ad campaign – which ran across TV, magazines, and out-of-home advertising as well as on Google-owned properties – appears to have boosted Google and YouTube search interest for these three YouTube Stars as well as views of and subscribers to each of their YouTube channels,” said Jarboe.

And so, this war over audiences rages on. Both online programs and television shows are successfully attracting viewers by capitalizing on the other’s audience. In the future, we should see a larger push toward advertising designed to either pull viewers off of their mobile devices and back to their television sets, or off of their television sets and into the world of online video.

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