When Should Online Come Before TV?

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how TV is losing its audience and, thus, its effectiveness. Many people believe it. They’ve seen the statistics. They’ve read the news stories. They may have even experienced an evolution in their own media consumption habits.

Others simply can’t imagine TV isn’t the best way to move consumers to action. It makes sense to feel that way. TV has dominated the media landscape as the sexiest, the most effective medium for decades.

How do you convince these people online makes sense?

I’m sure you have clients or potential clients who’ve never spent money online or have spent very little. Imagine presenting one of them with a media plan for the coming year and suggesting they move 75 percent of their budget to interactive media.

That’s a big leap for the client to make. Is it the move they should make? Sometimes. The real question is: When is a move like that the right thing to do?

There are a number of factors to consider before making the decision. However, if you can say “yes” to the following questions, feel confident in your recommendation to put online first. Ask yourself:

  • Is my target audience online? Analyze your target audience’s media consumption. If the audience spends most of its time online and under-indexes for TV consumption, think about how you can use interactive media to deliver your message. You’ll find that a lot of people spend more time online than anywhere else.

  • Is my message best delivered in video? You might expect an affirmative answer to this question would move you more toward TV. But, TV isn’t the end all, be all; video is. It’s hard to argue the effects of motion and sound. Video is an incredibly powerful messaging tool. But it doesn’t have to be delivered on a TV set. Sometimes, it shouldn’t be.
  • Do I need more than 30 seconds to tell my story? If you have a complex or fantastic product, you may need more time to tell your story. With TV, it can be difficult — and expensive — to deliver a message that’s 120 seconds or longer. Consider moving that message online and using a VOD (define) platform in conjunction with your interactive video placements. Use your interactive ad units to draw people to the Web site where you can deliver the long-form video message.
  • How high is broadband penetration among my target audience? According to Web Site Optimization, U.S. broadband penetration is currently 58.5 percent of Internet households. However, if your target audience is younger or more affluent, you may find that percentage is much higher. If you have an audience with 80 percent or 90 percent penetration, that audience isn’t just prepared for but expecting engaging brand experiences. This is an opportunity to deliver long-form video content.
  • Is the Internet an important channel for my client’s business? Consider the category your client competes in. Is there a heavy reliance on the Internet for research in this category? Can the product or service be purchased online? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, don’t be afraid to use online as your primary messaging medium.

Ideally, a media mix should work together, each medium exponentially enhancing the other. For example, I recently wrote about media meshing, in which you use the Internet to enrich a TV experience, intriguing the audience with TV and allowing them to dig deeper into the brand experience online. I’m not suggesting you should pick one or the other. But there are times when the Internet should be the primary driver in the media mix.

If you’ve done the analysis and it suggests online is right, go for it. If you have other ideas on when online is right, hit me.

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