TV’s Marketing Problem

Television is still the #1 brand builder, but it needs some brand building for itself.

Television, the #1 brand builder, has a marketing problem.

Nothing gets your business known like TV. And yet, many of the same businesses that would benefit the most from the affordability and undeniable effectiveness that TV advertising offers don’t consider it a possibility.

It’s an interesting irony. For decades, TV advertising sales organizations didn’t have to do a lot marketing. The power of TV was understood; its ability to reach large audiences and build powerful emotional connections between brands and consumers. If a business had the right creative message, it could break through the clutter.

The internet and the seemingly overnight emergence of colossal ad tech competitors like Google and Facebook changed all that.

All of a sudden, TV had an image problem. Advertisers were flooded with messages about the decline of TV. Dropping ratings. Young people never watch. TV lacks actionable data. Ad effectiveness can’t be measured. It’s expensive and generates a lot of waste.

Ad tech launched one of the most successful B2B marketing campaigns in recent memory, convincing advertisers that they were better off spending money in ad tech first and minimizing TV.

But there’s another interesting irony at play here: while the world has undoubtedly changed, the power of TV remains. “Digital first” is not as effective as a multiscreen campaign anchored in TV. TV still reaches the largest audiences that are important to advertisers, more so than Google and Facebook. TV still builds powerful emotional connections between brands and consumers. (Name the last 300×250 ad that inspired you.) And if a business has the right creative message, it can still break through the clutter.

While TV is still the #1 brand builder, it needs some brand building for itself.

To compete successfully, TV has to innovate rapidly, with data and advanced ad products to help advertisers execute better campaigns. I’ve written in the past about what Spectrum Reach is doing in this regard.

But equally important to the success of TV will be the ability of ad sales organizations – the connection between advertisers and their customers – to adopt more innovative marketing strategies.

We must share our message more broadly to reach more businesses. Over-investing marketing resources on entertaining existing clients at the expense of reaching new prospects is not a path to growth. New messages and tactics – like the Spectrum Reach Driven by Data tour – must be tried. Some will work, some won’t.

Just like we advise our clients, we need ROI-driven campaigns that emphasize engaging prospects and driving leads.

We must modernize the customer experience by improving reporting and creating frictionless ways for advertisers to do business with us. The great achievement of the ad tech companies is creating a simple, affordable method for millions of businesses to DIY their campaigns.

We must engage customers on social channels, an increasingly important source for business intelligence and decision making. Relying on talent and network marketing groups to drive business through programming messaging is not enough. B2B thought leadership and content marketing are critical.

The good news is that TV sales organizations are pros at helping brands with their image problems. Just look at the work our industry has done recently with our biggest ad tech competitors, Google and Facebook, to build (and rebuild) their brands. All we need to do is apply that know-how to ourselves, and the rest will take care of itself.

Originally published on my LinkedIn blog on August 29, 2018

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