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What Wins, TV or Online Ads?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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It is getting increasingly difficult to deliver the right message to the right consumer through the right medium. We all know that. We have some in our camp who will continue to stick to TV, and others who want to abandon the traditional media and dedicate their time, effort, and money to the digital realm.

And what's more, the latest research doesn't give any real indication of which method yields the best result.

For example: earlier this month, Nielsen and IAB conducted a study on online TV and streaming. The numbers looked good. Really good. In the categories of brand recall, general recall, message recall, and ad likeability, online ads beat TV ads. In the cases of general recall and brand recall, online beat TV nearly 2:1.

And, while online viewership is growing rapidly, TV viewership grew at the snail's pace of two percent.

Now, there are some hidden variables in that data. The glaring one is that TV is more prevalent than Internet. More households are likely to have multiple TVs than multiple computers or "screens." Naturally, then, online streaming growth is bound to be faster than TV, since the TV buying market is saturated.

But then AYTM did its own research about online ads and TV, and they came up with other interesting findings. When they asked the survey participants which medium was more effective, only eight percent of respondents said that online ads were more effective than TV. Then 35% said that they thought TV was more effective, and 25% thought that the two mediums were equally effective.

So what is going on?

There seems to be no argument that TV still reigns supreme. But when it comes to which is more effective, there is a growing division among professionals. With the growing fragmentation of our audiences, we would be hard-pressed to provide a clear answer. Each medium will attract a different audience, so perhaps the best answer is that the medium that is most effective is the medium that your specific audience chooses the most.

We realize that AdLand (and our news media colleagues) like assembling information in the form of a horse race. Something has to be the winner.

If we craft the right message, and make it relevant, why can't the consumer be the winner? 

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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