Traditional TV Advertising Vs. Streaming

Contributed by Bryce Ward

TV advertisements have long been a staple of marketing campaigns for both small and large companies, but with the ever-evolving digital landscape it is important to take a few steps back and look at the current and future state of television. The steady decline of cable and satellite television in recent years has been well-known. Streaming services have been dominating the market because of they give users more flexibility in what they watch and at a cheaper price tag, too. In 2018, for example, Netflix usage surpassed cable and satellite TV for the first time,[1] a sure sign for what is to come. But despite this decline in traditional television viewership, television advertising is still one of the best ways to solidify brand presence – that is because television as we know it is evolving.

Cable and satellite companies are well aware of the spiraling trajectory of their industry. In response, many have already begun dipping their toes in the streaming market. Dish Network launched (with relatively little success) DirecTV Now, and AT&T successfully established their foothold in the streaming industry with Sling TV. Both products, it would seem, are a response to the growing popularity of YouTube TV, which allows viewers to pick and pay for only the channels they want to watch. When your competitor becomes so successful that they are advertising a product that is in complete opposition to cable and satellite services on cable and satellite broadcasts (as YouTube TV does), the writing on the wall becomes clear. However, it is important to notice that the acronym, “TV” still appears in the names of many services who essentially position themselves as “anti-TV.” This is because TV is not dying but simply changing, or, to be more accurate, improving. And it isn’t just improving for customers but for advertisers, as well. For, as TV services continue to give viewers more freedom to choose what they want to watch and pay for, channels will become increasingly more specialized and targeting specific demographics will only become easier and more effective.

Please note: there is certainly still a time and place for traditional TV advertising – more and more the trajectory is switching to a different model – but traditional advertising still holds merits. Just like we don’t recommend the concept of entirely abandoning print media in favor of digital, the idea that cable TV/traditional methods and avenues of advertising are no longer worthwhile is false. We still recommend this in certain markets and for certain clients!

As new iterations of television continue to gain traction, so do new approaches of advertising. Cable and satellite viewership may be declining overall, but the fate of alternative forms of digital media runs perpendicular. The reality is that television advertising is far from dying – it is simply evolving into new forms that will ultimately become advantageous for marketers trying to reach specific audiences in the most cost-effective way possible.