TV advertising is still king. There you go. I said it. Does that make me an advertising dinosaur? Can we even say the word advertising? Wasn’t this term assigned to the attic a couple of years ago along with integrated?

In the world of content dissemination, or whatever we’re calling it this week, we have witnessed a gradual migration of marketing budgets to online and agencies have been changing their business models to help facilitate this great migration. Digital is more targeted and more measurable than traditional media. Not only do we now know “which 50% of our marketing budget is working”, we can also optimise targeting during a campaign to make sure we reduce the wastage.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big advocate of digital media, and we produce plenty of online campaigns for our clients. It has a key role in today’s marketing mix, but all too often I hear marketing directors or brand owners talk about focusing their marketing strategy around social or digital media.

Investing in social platforms is, for most brands, a hygiene factor. It’s a necessity.  But it is almost impossible to significantly grow a food or drink brand through social or digital media alone.

Of course, a multi-media approach will always be more effective than any medium in silo and TV advertising isn’t right for every food and drink brand. There are many factors to consider, from distribution to supply chain, strategic objectives and budget. However, TV is still the best way to make a brand famous.

One may question the usefulness of fame, but this word covers a multitude of things. Fame equals awareness; the first stage in any consumer purchasing funnel. If consumers have never heard of your brand, they are less likely to consider it (the 2nd phase in the funnel).

The human mind is a complicated thing and the decision process made in purchasing one brand over another, or God forbid, Own Label, is difficult to understand. But advertising and TV advertising, in particular, enables a brand to communicate its values and the perceived benefits one might get in purchasing that brand.

I have been guilty myself of pedalling digital as the way forward for brands, as we see the demise of linear TV and the rise of online video, it seemed prescient to suggest online would be the death knell for TV.  This may still be the case, but there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.

At Ebiquity, their econometric benchmarks show brands that outperform the market are those that use creative executions on TV.  More than any other media, TV advertising helps to reinforce memory structures.

When consumers walk down a shopping aisle faced with 12 different brands of peanut butter (not to mention Own Label), it’s enough to paralyse anyone into a state of indecision. It’s these memory structures, created by TV advertising, that ultimately influence a consumer’s decision to pick one brand over another.

OK, so TV works but aren’t audiences dwindling? Aren’t millennials all online?

Assuming you want to target millennials, the argument put forward by social media agencies is that millennials’ consumption of TV – particularly linear TV, watched at time of broadcast – is shrinking to the extent that it’s hardly worth brands using TV at all. They’re spending all their time online, so the agencies say, and budgets should follow. And whilst it is true that half of 16-24s total daily viewing time, of 4h14m, is not live TV and includes streamed content such as YouTube, nearly three quarters of their viewing is TV, either live (50 percent), recorded on PVR (16 percent), or on demand (7 percent). That’s far more than the combined time spent on Facebook and YouTube.

Agency and clients alike are starting to see that it’s not about ‘traditional media’ vs. ‘digital media’. After many of the biggest spenders in the business shifted their spend into digital, they have realised a more balanced approach is needed.

Procter & Gamble is planning to increase advertising spend this year after admitting that cuts to its budget, particularly around new products and sampling, impacted its market share growth.

“Reach and frequency is needed, along with the right message. We have adjusted our communications to TV, digital and any way appropriate to reach consumers…”  explained P&G CEO,  David Taylor

TV is still the medium retailers respect and consumers respond to, but it’s not just the preserve of multi-national brands, TV advertising is now more affordable than ever.

Going back to a test, learn and roll-out approach makes TV advertising available to small and medium sized brands.  Regional TV testing is making a comeback. It’s a way to dip a toe in the water and roll a campaign out based on hard facts.  For national campaigns, targeting the media through Adsmart or other digital channels, brings the media spend down drastically, you might forego reach, but you’ll minimise wastage.

There’s also a more cost effective way to create the advert. By stripping away the layers (many traditional advertising firms have) agencies like The Impossible Dream can produce creative for around 50% – 60% less. That’s the sales pitch out of the way…

.. but it’s new ways of working like this, that makes TV advertising accessible to brands that appreciate the effectives of TV, but may have previously felt it outside of their budget.

Now, I’m not saying you should fire your social media manager, unless they’re useless of course, but if you want immediate and sustainable growth, it might make sense to stick your marketing spend into TV advertising.

Matthew McMinn, Founder of The Impossible Dream

Creative content and media strategy for food and drink brands