People don’t watch TV the way they used to. When they get home they will go to Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or a streaming service or a movie subscription service for modern films or current TV shows. People (like me) choose to pay rather than go for free services because they can’t be bothered to sit through the adverts.

If they still haven’t found anything they want to watch, then they’ll use their phone to stream YouTube videos via Chromecast or Apple TV. They have ads. Of course – but they are more targeted and people can skip them after five seconds (usually).

If there’s something that I really want to watch, then very occasionally I will watch TV as it happens. Most of the time I will wait for it on catch-up. Five years ago this would have been unusual behaviour, but it is quickly becoming the norm, especially among younger demographics. They use the TV as a way to view streaming services, or to put content on their phones onto the big screen, not as a way to watch ad-supported network or cable programming.

TV Ads Lead to Cord Cutting

Even with all the content that broadcast TV and online services have to offer, when the TV comes on, it’s often as a background while people are using their smartphones. The television has become the modern fireplace – something on in the background while we do other things. Smartphones have become the things that we’re doing them on.

A lot of people are cutting the cord because when adverts come on TV, they switch off. Either they switch off the set, switch over to a streaming service or switch their attention to a mobile device. They’ll play a game, watch a YouTube video in the ad break or check their Facebook status. I know I do. I also know that the time I spend on my phone is the time where I am targeted by the most advertising.

When radio came along, people thought that print media was dead. When television came along, people thought radio was dead. Now social media has come along, and some people seem surprised that television isn’t dead.

Television isn’t going to die anytime soon, because it provides entertainment like no other medium does. In terms of advertising, just as TV cut into radio’s business (and radio cut into the newspaper’s business) social media is cutting heavily into TVs business. There has been a paradigm shift towards Digital.

Digital Growing 5 Times Faster than TV

Last year, US digital ad spending reached $72.09 billion, while TV spending grew to $71.29 billion. It’s the first time that digital spending has overtaken TV ad spending, and the eMarketer projection is Digital Media will see around a $10 billion year on year increase in spend while TV will see a more modest growth in the region of $2 billion. In terms of advertising, TV has lost it’s crown to social media.


Source: eMarketer

There is a link between TV and social media. Both are growing, but that social media is growing far more rapidly. The content that is streamed on devices often starts on TV, and selling it on to a streaming service becomes another source of revenue.

Who knows, in the future it might be a more significant portion of revenue. Television will still exist, but it will not be as prevalent. Attention is focusing from the TV screen to the mobile screen, and advertisers have to keep up.

Advertisers are Dumping TV for Digital

In March of this year, Adidas chief executive Kaspar Rorsted told CNBC: “It’s clear that the younger consumer engages with us predominately over the mobile device, digital engagement is key for us; you don’t see any TV advertising anymore.” Not only is Adidas abandoning TV to focus on social media, they also plan to increase their spend from approximately $1 billion to $4 billion in the next 4 years.

To be successful, you need to create content that the audience wants to engage with. Adidas did that with their #trollthis, female influencer recruitment and their Snoop Dogg spot.

On the other hand, Taco Bell is shifting its spend back to radio and television from Digital media. SMO Marissa Thalberg told Campaign, “We went down some garden paths with it last year. Taco Bell is less sure than it wants to be that its digital efforts are reaching its target.” 

Although Taco Bell seem to be going against the trend, they are reacting to the situation, and adapting to their place in the new marketplace (and a potentially older customer base). It is more important than ever to be agile, and to make sure that you are providing content that customers want to see in places they are already looking.

A huge budget doesn’t guarantee success, you can’t just put all your chips on Digital if you don’t have the right content to appeal to a savvy social media audience.

Adapt or Die: Social Media is Agile, TV Isn’t

Digital marketing is a growth industry. Digital marketing done well is a rocket ship. People who put social first in their marketing campaigns tend to see a better return on investment than by using traditional media. People who create content that is specifically designed for their target audience, that speaks to them directly on the devices that already have their attention, can ride that rocket ship to the stars.

Social media gives opportunities for engagement that have never been available to marketers before. It also creates an audience which is more selective and willing to pay to avoid advertising than ever. If you are not creative with your marketing, then you won’t just lose your audience, you’ll never find them in the first place. Adapt, or die.

About the Author: Zachary Jarvis is a Digital Marketer with one thing on his mind: Results. Uninspired by the never ending talk of ‘vanity metrics’ in the world of digital marketing, Magnate was founded — the ‘Social-First’ marketing agency. On the very rare occasion he isn’t watching Step Brothers in his spare time – you’ll find Zachary in the thick of social platforms, learning what makes us tick. This is driven by a fascination (perhaps a slight obsession…) with market trends and consumer behaviors.