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Benefits of Digital Media vs. TV Advertising

Development Team

TV ads are a great way to reach large audiences, but can be expensive and offer shallower insights into their impact on audiences. Digital media, on the other hand, allows companies to target buyers, track metrics, and adjust their strategy at the drop of a hat.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, many families gathered around the TV every night to watch their favorite programs, whether that was “I Love Lucy”, “The Flintstones”, or “M*A*S*H*”.

However, over the last ten years, the way we’ve consumed media has changed significantly. Rather than solely through television, people consume media on their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

The time people spend on their mobile devices alone has increased by about 460% since 2011. Now, people spend roughly the same amount of time on their mobile devices as they do watching TV.

Between mobile devices and desktops, people are spending more and more of their time online.

While television ads may have been the best way for companies to reach their buyers several decades ago, digital media may be a better way to increase engagement and grow sales in 2021.

Digital media leverages online channels to generate brand awareness, leads, and sales. Examples of digital media advertising include:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Email marketing

While TV ads can help you reach a large audience and can keep your brand top-of-mind, digital media:

  • Is more affordable than TV ads
  • Allows you to target your ideal customers
  • Makes it easier to track your success
  • Allows you to adjust your strategy quickly

Digital Media Often is More Affordable than TV Ads

Creating and running a TV ad is a pricey endeavor, while digital ads are cost-effective and easy to develop. It costs an average $115,000 to buy a single 30-second ad placement on a national network and $1,500­–$2,000 to produce it.

Those prices vary depending on the market, audience size, time, and network you want to advertise on. To rightly identify what sort of TV ad campaign fits the best for your company, consider partnering with an advertising company.

Cost of National Ad Spots

Source: Fit Small Business

For example, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” had over 18 million viewers at its peak. With such high viewership, the cost of a 30-second ad spot jumped to $400,000.

In comparison, most companies spend $35,000­–$145,000 on digital marketing annually.

Some digital strategies, such as SEO, content marketing, and email marketing can be implemented by in-house teams or a digital marketing agency for a relatively affordable price.

For example, several digital marketing tools such as Google Ads allow companies to set a budget for their campaigns, helping them control their overall spending.

While small and midsize businesses may not be able to afford expensive TV ad spots or compete with larger companies in their market, they can still remain on budget by investing in digital media campaigns.

Digital Media Ads Allow You to Target Your Ideal Customers

Digital media can help you reach people who are interested in the specific services or products that your company provides. While TV ads may reach thousands — or even millions — of viewers, many of them won’t be interested in your products or services.

Companies now can manage marketing information to closely target the people most likely to engage with and purchase from your company.

By targeting customers who are most likely to convert, you’ll develop a more effective campaign and increase the return on your investment.

When developing a Google Ads campaign, for example, you can create custom audiences, target customers who are in your target market or even reach customers who are actively comparing products.

As you’re developing your digital strategy, think about your ideal customer and the best way to reach them. Segment your audience into personas based on their age, gender, occupation, and hobbies. This will help you define your audience when you’re creating PPC or social media ads.

User Persona Example

Source: My Internet Scout

For example, if you’re trying to target someone like Justin, you should advertise locally in the Atlanta area and target men in their late 20s to early 30s. You may also consider email marketing because he often shops with the promotions he receives from company emails.

With more accurate targeting, you’ll see a higher conversion rate.

Digital Media Provides Better Measures of Success

While you can track how many televisions are tuned into a show, there’s no way to guarantee that people are watching your commercial. Many people walk away from their TV during commercial breaks or even look at their phone (where they’ll see digital ads).

Sometimes, TV advertisements even depend on logical fallacies to engage audiences, as opposed to direct data collected from previous marketing and advertising efforts.

Unlike TV ads, digital media allows you to directly track the effectiveness of your campaign. Depending on what strategies you utilize, you can track your traffic, click-through rate, impressions, likes, and comments to measure the direct impact your digital media efforts have on your long-term goals.

For example, Google Analytics allows companies to measure the number of visitors coming to your site, how they found your site, how long they stay on the platform, and which pages, in particular, they click through to.

For companies investing in SEO in particular, this data helps them target keywords, see where they rank in search engines, set goals, and determine how to best meet their customer’s needs.

By tracking the results of your campaign, you’ll have a better understanding of what works and how you can improve your strategy.

Digital Media Advertising Offers Flexibility to Adjust Your Strategy

TV ads have to be perfect because production is expensive and takes a lot of time. A lot goes into developing a TV ad, such as scriptwriting, storyboarding, hiring actors, filming, and post-production. Once you finalize your ad, it’s difficult to change direction.

In comparison, it’s easy to update your digital media campaigns, tweak social media ads, and update content. By testing different strategies, you’ll be able to pinpoint the most effective way to capture your audience’s interest.

Through trial and error, you may find that you attract more traffic through organic search or that you get higher conversion from Facebook Ads over Instagram Ads.

With the data to back you up, you can quickly make changes by investing in the most fruitful marketing method. Over time, you’ll create an effective digital strategy that yields a high return.

Digital Media Is a Better Investment than TV Ads

Although TV ads are a great way to reach a broad audience and keep your business at the forefront of your mind, digital media is more affordable than TV ads and is just as effective.

Rather than spending your entire advertising budget on the placement of a single TV ad, you can invest in a robust digital marketing strategy that can attract new and repeat customers.

With several different ways to target your audience, digital media campaigns set you up for success. Unlike TV ads, you’re then able to track the direct impact of your efforts by analyzing metrics such as site traffic, click-through rate, impressions, and engagement.

With this data, you can determine the best way to attract your ideal customers and adjust your marketing strategy. By spending less on marketing and optimizing the digital content you produce, you can easily improve the return on your investment.

To find a vendor that can support your business’s digital media efforts, check out our list of digital marketing agencies here.


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