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Director's blog

31 January 2017

There is a great divide across our State. And I’m not talking about one’s footy or political colours. But in marketing circles there is a pointless and naive debate. Is TV or digital the better medium?

I am a little over the digital versus TV argument. In short, they both have a place. 

But today’s modern marketers preach that digital is now the dominant media used to inspire, emotionally connect and drive sales. And that TV is dead. So why does Google and Facebook invest in TV? 

I’m no digital basher – far from it. Digital is powerful. It has an important place in the marketing mix and the path-to-purchase cycle, and for smaller players, with more conservative budgets, social media is a practical and smart choice. But I do wonder if one simply chooses Instagram, Facebook and Twitter because it’s fashionable.

I’m not suggesting that advertisers shift all of their dollars to TV. It’s simply to challenge the notion that we all no-longer watch TV. By the way, I’m not a massive TV consumer myself. The contrived renovating, cooking, celebrity and dating reality shows are mind-numbing. 
But the fact is, Australian’s still love TV. Make no mistake, TV is a giant when it comes to audience reach. 

According to the recent Multi-Screen Report released by Nielsen, OzTAM and RegionalTAM, on average, more than 88 per cent of Australians watch at least some broadcast TV on in-home sets each week. That’s 20.67 million people! What’s more, every day 16 million Australians watch broadcast TV. 

The modern marketer also believes that 16-24 year-olds don’t watch TV – claiming they’re all on digital. Yet over 72 per cent watch TV weekly. 

In 2017 we have great device choices – but TV remains the most-watched screen. Watching broadcast TV on a TV set accounts for more than 86 per cent of total screen viewing – that’s equivalent to 90 hours a month on average. Compared to 2.6% on a tablet and 3.7% on a smart phone.  

As marketers we know it’s even harder to reach audiences, and attention spans are getting shorter with each generation. Willie Pang, Chief Digital Officer at MediaCom, recently revealed a shocking insight into the 4.7 million Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2009) Australian’s. Their average attention span is 8-seconds! Yep 8-seconds. 

Such fleeting attention presents challenges well beyond marketing. Think about the hardships teachers will have in delivering lessons, or communication challenges for Governments across the world. By the way, in 1990 the average span was between 10-12 minutes. 

I accept that ad recall is even harder these days. We all do several other activities during a TV commercial break – using the second screen, or even occasionally slipping in a conversation with a loved one. Therefore, the first ad into a break has never been more important. 

Despite the interruptions, Australians rate TV as the number one influencer on their purchasing decisions than any other paid media according to a Deloitte Consumer Report. So it’s little wonder we hear the irritating jingles from prominent retailers all too often. Sadly, ‘Down, Down’ comes to mind.

The power of TV isn’t lost on a leading media agency either. MEC Adelaide Managing Director, Royce Zygarlicki, recently commented about its influence and its ability to work in combination with other mediums.  

“TV’s strengths remain reach, impact and ability to work with other media channels. Australian audiences still love to tune in to live sport and first run programming, particularly Australian made content. 

“To use TV effectively, marketers must clearly identify the purpose it will play in the consumer decision journey and how other channels will complement it. The MEC Momentum consumer journey model allows marketers to consider the role each media channel plays,” Mr Zygarlicki said. 

Understanding and defining business goals, marketing objectives and the target audience should come before discussions on what is the better medium. As skilled marketers that’s a critical part of our profession. But I fear it’s often overlooked. We need to learn more about the target audience, what moves them and influences them so we can identify ways to better tailor our communications. 

Marketing teams would enjoy greater success if more time was spent on understanding their target audience as opposed to engaging in the meaningless modern media debate. 

So are todays modern marketers right? Is TV dead? I reckon that’s best answered by quoting a hugely respected award-winning columnist, consultant and marketing professor, Mark Ritson, “Don’t think for one minute that TV advertising is ready to retire and reach for its slippers just yet. It remains the biggest, most vibrant and most effective tool in the marketing arsenal.”  

As we begin the New Year one thing is certain – the idiot box is alive and well.

Article written by Jehad Ali, Director, Communications, Department of the Premier and Cabinet

31 January 2017