TV Ads or Digital Marketing: What’s Your Best Bet?

The Gambler was a hit song released in 1978 by country singer Kenny Rogers. Within the lyrics, an old gambler gave advice to a younger man. The popular lines referred to knowing “When to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.”

But the real message was that “Every hand was winner and every hand a loser.” The secret was knowing which cards to throw away and which cards to keep.

I give similar advice (without requiring a taste of your whiskey as the Gambler did) when it comes to the debate between using TV Advertising or Digital Marketing. CEOs, business owners and marketing managers want to know which works best, which is the best bet for their budget

The answer is not black and white, but there are ways to determine the right way to go. And since marketing is a business service that combines several aspects from media to technology and metrics and talent and experience, the answer for your situation may be fluid and changing all the time. No use complaining, just keep up.

Let’s look at both media closer including the pros and cons of the various versions of each.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is finally legitimate and has come into its own. We recommend it and use it. In fact, every day we are producing content and strategy digital tools like —Social media paid ads, Pre-roll video for local news apps, Pre-roll video for YouTube, Banner ads, SEO, Interest Targeting, Geofencing and Retargeting.

Digital Marketing, is flexible, engaging, trackable and very cost effective. And it’s growing. 2018 was the first year dollars spent on digital marketing edged out tv buys.

Digital marketing also has several advantages over traditional marketing like TV advertising. It usually costs less to get started. It can eventually get customers and prospects engaged and moving toward a sale. It can educate a customer and generate add-on sales.

Digital also has that “Cool” factor. It’s new. And being new attracts attention. But certain types of digital marketing, even though effective, have “Creep” factor also.

“Retargeting,” is marketing in which a visitor to your website is followed online and peppered with repeated banner ads from you. I looked at knee braces after a workout injury three years ago and their ad still pops up when I open Google.

Geofencing is cool also but again, has a certain creepy aspect to it. If you put a geofence around a certain retail store because you sell your product in that store, you can make sure that folks who open a browser on their smartphones inside that store will see an ad for your product. That can be effective. But some customers view it as an invasion of privacy.

TV Advertising

TV advertising can be expensive, but it has one big advantage — it has a proven track record of building awareness on a large scale very quickly. Just look at the giants in consumer products and services. Coke, P&G, Nike, Apple, Ford, GM, etc.

You could bet the experts in their agencies are not going to recommend their clients spend billions on TV unless it was very, very effective. And yes, those same TV advertisers also have extensive digital marketing campaigns.

However, I think the most telling fact is that digital and tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others spend billions on TV advertising every year. These are the folks to who SELL digital marketing. But even Google and Facebook will tell you that eliminating TV to do just digital is a mistake. Likewise doing only TV is not as effective as both TV and digital.

Let’s put it this way…

If the Gambler was playing marketing poker, he’d tell you to keep both — your TV and digital cards — and you’ll have a winning hand.


About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to GFF@FarrisMarketing.com and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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