Hundreds of high profile brands have moved portions of their television advertising budgets into influencer marketing over the past four years. As we reported in December, 2018 was a year of growth and development for the industry. And we’re seeing further growth for the market in 2019. The Influencer Marketing Hub’s State of Influencer Marketing 2019: Benchmark Report showed that the average earned media value per $1 spent on influencer marketing is now $5.20. They also predicted that the influencer marketing industry would double in value, from $US3 billion in 2017 to $US6.5 billion this year (2019).

All of this growth further demonstrates how influencer marketing is becoming the way of the future. Audiences are slowly transitioning more and more to on-demand television and social media website such as YouTube for their television consumption. Because of this, television viewing figures are suffering (especially for younger generations) and television advertising budgets are decreasing as a result. While there is some element of truth to that sentiment, it is not that simple. Traditional television advertising still has its place – that’s why it still exists. However, influencer marketing remains a very attractive and suitable option for the majority of B2C brands across the world.

Most Firms Still Prefer a Varied Marketing Mix

Most businesses with a large marketing budget tend to spread their budget across a variety of media platforms. By spreading their money, they’re targeting a broader range of people and really solidifying their brand awareness.

The State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, referred to above, asked its survey respondents about how they intended to spread their marketing budget. 86% of the respondents intended to dedicate part of their budget to influencer marketing. 65% who budgeted for it last year plan to increase their budget this year and 11% intended to allocate more than 40% of their budget to influencer marketing. 36% have allocated between 20-40% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing. The largest percentage, 29%, say they have allocated 10-20% of their entire marketing budget to influencer marketing.

Although this survey doesn’t ask how the rest of these firms’ marketing budgets are allocated, clearly many still use some traditional marketing, including where appropriate, television advertising. Nonetheless, influencer marketing has clearly become a part of the marketing armoury for countless brands across the globe.

Child watching television advertising

Is Traditional Television Advertising Dying?

Last year we reported on whether traditional television was dying. We recognised that there had been a change in television viewing patterns, with new streaming technologies and time-shifting capabilities. The average viewer now spreads his or her viewing time across a wide range of media – traditional TV, streaming, YouTube etc.

The traditional networks have tried to adapt to this, by altering the types of ad they play. There are fewer conventional 30-second ads, and more 10-15 second ad bursts.

We made four main conclusions about our hypothesis:

  1. Overall, fewer people now watch traditional television live.
  2. Older generations are more likely to watch traditional television.
  3. Generations X and Y have changed their viewing habits to a higher degree than Baby Boomers. They watch television over a broader range of devices.
  4. Millennials / Generation Z have developed entirely different viewing habits from their parents and grandparents. They spend much of their time selecting their own viewing experiences.

So traditional television is not dead yet, but it is having to adapt. Otherwise, it will suffer. Television advertising still has its place, but it is no longer the mega-star it once was.

UK Television Advertising and Watching Habits

Source: Thinkbox TV Viewing Report 2018

Thinkbox recently released its 2018 TV Viewing Report. As the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, Thinkbox clearly has an interest in the survival of traditional TV. Nonetheless, they can be considered trustworthy and their data gives a strong indication of the current television advertising industry.

TV viewing continues to change. The average person watches fewer hours of live TV, but more on TV playback (although this has remained static over the last few years), broadcaster VOD (video on demand), and subscription VOD. This change is particularly evident when you restrict your analysis to those under 35.

The differences between age groups become particularly noticeable when you compare the figures for All Individuals with those of just 16-34-year-olds. The average person still watches 69% of their daily video on broadcaster TV (52.4% live, 11.8% playback). Millennials / Generation Z, however, only watches 37.7% of their video content on broadcaster TV (27.7% live, 10.0% playback). The rest of their video consumption comes across a variety of fronts, notably YouTube 24.6%, and Subscription VOD (e.g. Netflix) 15.7%.

Source: Thinkbox TV Viewing Report 2018

These figures also emphasise the importance of YouTube, despite attempts from competitors such as Facebook and Instagram to take their market share. Although the 16-34-year-olds spend nearly a quarter of their daily video viewing time on YouTube, they only watch 1.4% of their video on Facebook, and 6.6% on all other social networks combined. They watch twice as much video porn as they do Facebook video.

In terms of video advertising, however, live TV still holds sway – 85.6% of video ads for all individuals, 73.4% for 16-34s. Although the younger group watches 24.6% of their video on YouTube, they only see 9% of their video ads there.

Different Types of Content are Watched Differently

The type and genre of video content play a huge role in determining how somebody watches it. For instance, most people still watch live sport on traditional (although often paid) television. Seven of the most viewed programs in 2018 were football games. On the other hand, primetime drama is far less time-sensitive. Neary as many people now watch primetime dramas on a time-shifted TV set, as those who watch it live.

UK Viewers Watched 906 Billion Ads in 2018

Source: Thinkbox TV Viewing Report 2018

In terms of total television ads watched, 2013 set the benchmark, with UK viewers watching 1,000 billion ads. Ad watching has declined since then, with the biggest fall coming in 2018, which saw numbers fall to 906 billion ads. The last time that television ad viewing was at that level was in 2009.

On average, each person saw 41 TV ads per day (the lowest since 2007).

The Pros of Television Advertising

In the past, television has been one of the most effective, and correspondingly expensive forms of advertising. Brands knew that they could reach one of the largest, most-engaged audiences.

People also tend to be more relaxed and attentive when they watch television; it isn’t just something that plays in the background.

Being video-based, you can convey your message with sight, sound, and motion, allowing you to use many of your senses at once. Of course, any video-based marketing (including that on YouTube) can utilise this advantage.

Baby Boomers and some of Generation X still spend most of their TV watching time watching traditional linear television. If your brand is large enough to afford TV ads and targets an older demographic, then TV advertising is still the way to go.

If you market a product profoundly connected with sport, you still probably have the best opportunity of wooing your client base if you can advertise during a live sports broadcast.

The Cons of Television Advertising

Television advertising can be very expensive. This is particularly the case if you wish to advertise during prime time, or during popular events. CBS is selling 30-second Super Bowl 2019 commercial spots for $5.1 to $5.3 million (the difference depends on an ad’s placement during the broadcast). And that is after a plateau in price this year. Super Bowl viewership peaked in 2015 with 114.4 million viewers — but slipped to 103.4 million in 2018.

That figure is just the amount that advertisers pay for the right to broadcast their ads during Super Bowl. According to Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media, “What starts out as a $5 million investment for a 30-second ad easily balloons to a $15 to $20 million investment for a total marketing program”. Brands also need to pay for ad production, talent, social media marketing, teaser trailers, and more. And yes, many brands that advertise during Super Bowl work with influencers to gain further exposure.

Another problem with television advertising is that once the ad is shot, edited, and delivered to the television network, it is tough to make changes. You might quickly see something that isn’t working in it, but you can’t just change your copy or alter the way you present it, as you can with influencer marketing. You can’t even easily do A/B testing as you can with online advertising (or even newspaper ads).

Perhaps the most significant difficulty with television advertising is that it is challenging to target your core audience. You can do some general targeting, by selecting the programme your ad is played within, but nothing very granular. You may place your ad in one of the most viewed programs – for a price, but much of that audience may be inappropriate for you, and would never buy your product.

As we saw above, the younger generations have moved their video watching, to YouTube in particular. However, there is even worse news for firms targeting Generation Z and Millennials. What the Thinkbox data doesn’t account for is the knowledge that younger generations are completely turned off by ads – they just don’t take in traditional advertising as older generations used to. They may still be present when a TV ad plays, but much of the time it is offputting to them.

creative production

The Pros of Influencer Marketing

Now, influencer marketing is clearly a far more effective means of distributing content to the younger generation.

The key to successful influencer marketing is trust. The top influencers only have an audience because they have built up a level of trust. Engaged followers/subscribers recognise that the influencers they follow and trust wouldn’t’ share or promote anything that the influencer didn’t believe in themselves.

Here are 7 reasons why influencer marketing can be beneficial:

Influencer effectiveness infographic

  1. It’s turning brands into hot topics
  2. Trust of influencers builds strong brand associations
  3. Consumers are exposed to social media more than any other form of media
  4. Influencer marketing requires a mobile phone, not a television
  5. Unlimited sharing potential
  6. Ease of demographic targeting
  7. Flexible pricing structure

Unless you jump to the top end of influencer marketing, you will find it much cheaper than television advertising. Even if you did decide to work with a celebrity like Kim Kardashian, the $500,000 you would pay for a post is less than many television advertising slots.

You can run campaigns, analyse their performance, and tweak them easily. Influencers allow you to not only reach your audience, but you can also add a level of authenticity to your brand, particularly for the younger generations so cynical about advertising.

The Fyre Festival Showed that Influencers Can Still be Effective When Everything Else Fails

Arguably, the most popular example of successful influencer marketing occurred at the Fyre Festival. The organisers chose to use influencers to promote their upcoming luxury festival, and the influencers certainly succeeded in spreading the word. Unfortunately, the rest of the festival organisation was not so skilful, and it turned into a disaster.

Despite the organisational failures, the Fyre Festival at least shows how influencers can give an event better exposure than any paid advertising campaign can hope to.

Cons of Influencer Marketing

Objectively speaking, there aren’t as many disadvantages to influencer marketing. Perhaps the biggest problem is that not everybody wins. Some marketers do not see a good return on their campaigns because of the way they’ve approached it. But when you look more closely at things, you see that most of the firms that fail with influencer marketing have neglected to do the necessary homework correctly. They haven’t set achievable goals, they haven’t identified influencers that share the same core values as your brand, they haven’t picked influencers who are going to be effective and they haven’t got their influencers to produce content that will resonate with their audiences.

One problem with influencer marketing is that many influencers are endorsing too many products all of the time. Brands need to venture out and find influencers that are more selective with the brands they choose to work with. Also, influencer marketing may not be ideal for every brand.

As an influencer marketing agency that has been conducting campaigns for several years, we understand, as many others do now, the importance of getting every step in the process right, in order to achieve a solid ROI.

Television Advertising vs Influencer Marketing. Which Should You Choose?

Most global businesses spread their budgets across a mix of marketing platforms, many of which utilise both television advertising and influencer marketing. If you have enough budget, it makes sense to spread your message across both, with a focus on digital marketing. However, if you need to choose one, many factors should impact this decision. What is your budget, how old is your audience, where do they spend most of their time, who shapes their opinions and habits, how susceptible are they to different forms of advertising?

Influencer marketing has become the go-to for countless brands in recent years. You can more effectively target audiences through influencer marketing. If you are targeting those younger than 35 then influencer marketing has a huge advantage – it sits on the ideal platform of choice for younger generations. If you target older generations and can afford to allocate budget towards television advertising, then that is still a strong medium for attracting your most significant audience. Despite this, we predict that the decline will continue and that traditional television advertising will become less and less prominent for the world’s most established brands.


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