is TV advertising dying

As we all know TV advertising is a huge business. That’s not a surprise, watching telly is what we do, it’s something we’ve been used to for generations. At the same time we are spending more time online, the Internet is becoming more and more versatile with dozens of new services being made available everyday, gradually drawing our attention away from conventional forms of media. We only have 24hrs in a day, as the time spent consuming content online & social media grows, something will have to give in, this could potentially be the time we now spend watching TV.

Currently there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a major decline in the amount TV advertisers are spending. As a whole, the amount of people watching traditional TV channels is still on the increase, therefore big advertisers will continue to spend money on TV advertising. But is this sustainable or will TV advertising follow down the slippery slide of the print advertising?

YouTube is now more popular than some national TV channels. According to YouTube, 50% more people are searching and watching videos this year. Over 6 billion hours of YouTube is watched each month, which works out at about an hour for every person on the planet. Surely, some of this hours must be on the expense of the time we used to spend watching TV.

But does it mean that sitting in front of the TV with the family is soon becoming a thing of the past?  With each member of the family having their own viewing tastes and habits and customising their own viewing experience via online services this seems to be very real possibility.

Studies have shown that the biggest decrease in television viewers is within the 18-24 year old bracket, so does the problem lie with the younger generation? According to Nielsen’s studies younger people are watching around 20 minutes less TV per day than they did two years ago. This doesn’t mean that the younger generation are completely abandoning traditional TV, but perhaps using alternative options instead.

To explore this subject further, we asked a mix of experts to share their thoughts, we asked them:

“What is the future of TV advertising? Is the current situation sustainable or are we going to see a big shift in advertising spend from traditional TV to Digital ?”

here are their responses…

Marcus Miller is a search engine optimisation consultant based in Birmingham. Marcus has been working in and around search since 1999 in one capacity or another and currently focuses on consulting, audits and local SEO. Get in touch with Marcus on Twitter, Google+ or at

“I am not sure if we will see a ‘big shift’ from TV advertising to digital but I am pretty sure we will see a shift towards more integration of the various online and offline channels. We may be spending more time online but that is in part driven by fact we hold ‘online’ in our hands whilst watching TV. It’s not unusual to follow a twitter hashtag whilst watching Dr. Who or a sporting event and smart TV advertising will drive people towards digital channels where we can continue to persuade.

TV Advertising is also growing up and getting smarter: BSkyB have a new advertising system that allows for demographic targeting of TV adverts. Couple this with the shift to on demand entertainment and we will still be viewing adverts whilst consuming entertainment but it may not just be via the traditional fixed adverts at fixed times model. Nevertheless, adverts will come with entertainment as they always have.

Ultimately, we just have a variety of different marketing channels to push our message out – whether they are TV channels, digital channels or something else entirely the real shift will be for search, social or landing pages to be the destination where we can continue to walk our prospects down to the checkout.

So, will we see a big shift from TV to digital? I don’t think so – TV is digital. The smart campaigns will view TV and entertainment as part of the overall mix for driving awareness and the big shift will be towards more tightly integrated cross media campaigns. I guess, this may see more budget ending up in the traditional digital marketplace over time but I don’t see TV (or video) going away any time soon.”

John Batty, Prior to establishing Bluejohn Marketing in May 2003, John held senior management positions in the construction and utility sectors. For eight years John was Marketing Director of CAN Ltd, the specialist contractor which installed the fabric roof on the Millennium Dome and the ‘spokes’ on the BA London Eye. Bluejohn operates primarily in the B2B sector and clients include product manufacturers, service providers, and trade associations. Services provided include business development, market research, copywriting, digital marketing, and marketing strategy.
John has appeared, sadly unsuccessfully, on Dragons’ Den and delivers training on public speaking and presentations. He also teaches Marketing at the University of Derby.

“The atomisation of TV – ’57 channels (and nothin’ on) – is the one of the big challenges facing TV advertising for the mainstream TV channels: ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Atomisation, however, has made  it possible for far more organisations to consider including TV in their advertising mix. For example, ‘Dave’ attracts a primarily male audience and offers advertisers the opportunity to ‘sponsor’ a segment of programming.

All TV companies now have major internet presences of their own, offering viewers the opportunity to see programmes at the time of their choice – but without being able to avoid the adverts! It would be interesting to know how much time individuals spend watching TV programmes online.

A major advantage TV has over the internet is that the internet is often – currently – a one-to-one interaction, whereas programmes such as X-Factor, Dancing on Ice etc retain a family appeal and therefore appeal to advertisers targeting the group family purchase. However, compared to the heyday of television in the 1970s – 1990s, peak TV audiences are far lower. By the same token, the internet – when used well – can individualise advertising: using cookies to present portfolios of products and services which match the internet use of the viewer.

From a personal perspective I am rarely tempted by internet advertising – but that is the opinion of a 50+ year old! Whereas I am, on occasion, willing to sit through advert breaks on TV, I rarely do on the internet particularly when the skip option is available.

Given that there is a finite budget for advertising spend, the internet will by definition take away some of the budget previously spent on TV advertising. Over time I believe the ‘seepage’ will continue but at a slowing rate. With content producers promoting their programmes across multiple channels it may be that the recipients of advertising spend remain the same, and it is simply the source of their advertising revenue that changes.”

Krystian Szastok is a Senior SEO Manager at Jellyfish. He is passionate about holistic search and about ways that Search evolves.  You can connect with Krystian on Twitter ,G+ and on his website.

“ I believe the future of TV advertising lies in integrating itself with other services.
We will be looking less and less at TV as one channel delivered statically but I believe the rise of internet connectivity, watching TV via devices like XBOX One will change the way we interact with it.
Double screening (looking at your tablet while watching TV) is already a big new trend and is growing in popularity and I think this will increase too.
The TV advertising spend is declining, while the online spend is increasing and TV stations will have to address this to stay profitable, otherwise in a few years I see them struggling as do print advertising platforms currently. “


Gary Terzza is a voice over coach based at studios in London. He is also known for his continuity announcer work with Channel 4 and More4 and previous broadcasting clients include ITV, Channel 5 and the BBC. You can connect with Garry on his Google+ profile.

“There has been plenty of talk about a shift from television advertising to digital, but what is most likely to happen? Content is king and when television delivers huge audiences, such as soaps or compelling documentaries, then the money will always head towards the broadcasting medium. TV still has the power to generate huge amounts of press interest, which web based content does not. There is also an established culture of TV viewing which has been handed down from generation to generation and this will be a hard habit to break.

However the future will probably see a convergence of the two media and a blurring of strict dividing lines, resulting in more fluid business models.  For example we could even see joint sales houses selling both TV commercial airtime and online ads. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Exciting times ahead.”

Tom Black is a Head of Search at Bootcamp Media Limited in Birmingham. Tom is a seasoned inbound marketer with experience in both paid & organic search. Passionate about productivity and all things search marketing, he is constantly pushing himself to learn new things and deliver high quality results for his clients.

Predicting the future is not an easy task but even without looking at the research and trends I can clearly see how much the times have changed. I used to watch TV a good 2-3 hours per day, it is now down to no more than 10 maybe 20 minutes. At the same time I spend over 8 hours online every single day except for the weekends that is as I think it’s important to have time off from anything Internet related. Instead I enjoy going out on my boat or socialising with friends.

If you want to reach me with your ads then TV probably isn’t the best option, however at the same time the case may be very different if your target audience are pensioners or stay at home parents.

Looking forward, I think advertisers will inevitably look further into digital advertising as it is much more flexible, offers better targeting and the ROI is much easier to measure.

Having said that, I don’t think we will see any imminent shift in the advertising spend from TV to digital. TV still has a huge reach which is necessary for big brands. I agree with Marcus and Krystian, that the most plausible option is the evolution and integration of offline and online channels.

So is this situation sustainable or is it a sign of another “housing bubble”? Currently online advertising doesn’t exactly seem to be a threat to TV advertising, as long as there is TV there will also be TV advertising. However, it does raise some questions about the future, as we spend more time online eventually advertisers will follow suit but whether this will lead to a decline of TV advertising is not yet clear.