Next year UK advertisers are expected to spend about £3.6bn on the internet, outstripping the £3.4bn forecast to be spent on TV advertising, according to figures out this week from WPP-owned GroupM.
The internet, dominated by search revenues, has also been making great strides in classified and display. Indeed, within display increasing amounts are being spent within TV broadcasters’ online propositions, such as pre and post-rolls and sponsored segments.
And, according to joint research unveiled by industry bodies Thinkbox and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this month, those who focus on the “competition” between the media, rather than their complementary elements, could be missing a trick.
Using both TV and online advertising delivers an increase of up to 50% in positive brand perception and an increase of more than 50% in the likelihood of purchase. The study conducted by Q Media Research shows how using the two most powerful digital media together is significantly more effective for advertisers than using either in isolation.
The findings also reinforce the need to ensure creative synergy between TV and online advertising and have identified best practice for better effectiveness, which requires more than putting TV ads online.
The study marks the first time that the effectiveness of using TV and online in tandem has been examined in depth. The research sample was focused specifically on “digital consumers” – people who own a digital TV and use broadband internet, and are medium to heavy users of each. As a result of the study focusing on the most tech-savvy of the UK population – around 25% of its total – the results aim to provide an indication of how future media consumption and consumer behaviour may develop, rather than what is currently mainstream behaviour.
In terms of their precise media use, 64% of the sample said they sometimes watch TV while using the internet, and 48% stated they did this most days – enabling instant online response to TV ads.
The research comprised quantitative and qualitative stages to gain a holistic view of how both media work together in UK marketing campaigns. The quantitative stage used a demographically representative online sample of 3,000 respondents with digital TV and broadband internet access to gauge the effectiveness of TV and internet advertising combined and how this can be exploited by advertisers to greater effect.
The qualitative element of the research featured engagement diaries in ten households, an online discussion forum and in-home observation of how people use and engage with TV and online in a natural context. The research featured advertising from automotive, packaged goods and finance brand categories.
TV and online advertising have a clear influence on purchase and response in their own rights but are much more influential when advertisers exploit their individual strengths together.
The research found that TV is stronger at telling people about a new brand they haven’t heard of before (74%), sparking interest in a brand (74%), providing new information about a brand people are already aware of (72%) and persuading people to try a brand or product (59%). Online advertising can also have these effects but performs relatively better at helping people decide which brands are relevant (50%), causing a re-evaluation of a brand (41%) and giving enough information to make a purchase decision (41%).
The findings demonstrated that people have different motivations for watching TV and using the internet. Although there are overlaps in reasons for use, the internet is accessed primarily for finding information (75%) and communication (66%), while TV is mainly used for entertainment (80%) and relaxation (73%).
That said, the internet is increasingly becoming a destination for entertainment and relaxation with 56% of respondents saying that they sometimes use it for both of these reasons, most likely fuelled by faster, more reliable broadband and the increasing popularity of watching TV online. The internet becomes a destination for entertainment and relaxation particularly when it is used while watching TV.
The study showed how online is enabling people to watch more of the TV they enjoy. Two-thirds of those who took part in the research have watched television via online providers, primarily from TV broadcasters’ websites. The main reason for watching TV online is to catch up with broadcast TV programmes that have been missed (58%). It is clear that online TV is mainly a back-up to the broadcast schedule and the research showed no signs of the cannibalisation of broadcast TV that some have assumed; online use is not displacing TV viewing.
Other reasons for watching TV online include catching up on missed series (28%), watching previews or trailers (25%), catching up on programmes that have been recommended (23%) and watching highlights of a programme (21%).
The research illustrated the immediate take-up of broadcaster on-demand sites as well as high levels of experience of pre-roll advertising Interestingly, however, respondents were four times more likely to think of pre-roll ads as “TV advertising” rather than “online advertising”.
Importantly, it also found that consumers are now much more aware of the existence and role of TV and online advertising and what they can do with it for themselves. It was clear from the findings that they appreciate the complete package that TV and online, when used together, offers them. Good news for advertisers concerned with any supposed anti-advertising sentiment.
The Thinkbox/IAB research helps advertisers recognise and understand the greater impact they can have if they use both TV and online together. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. TV benefits from the way online offers a means of expressing and exploiting the desires and motivation TV creates. In all the categories that were tested, the results were very positive for both “soft” brand measures and “hard” purchase intent scores.
David Brennan, Thinkbox research and strategy director, and Sorcha Proctor, IAB research manager, contributed to this week’s Trends Insight