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The Tortoise and the Hare: How Digital Media is Giving Traditional Media a Run for its Money

Posted by on Mar 19, 2012 in Blog, SMG Favs | 0 comments

From a world where television, radio and print ruled the advertising space, the consumer shift to online via desktop, mobile and tablets has forced advertisers to think about how digital media can work alongside their traditional media.  Internet usage is growing fast, yet some advertisers are still hesitant to shift advertising dollars online. We all know the famous fable of the Tortoise and the Hare where the speed of the hare would certainly lead to a victory in a head to head race. However, the tortoise surprises us all.  The same misconception about the ability for online media to reach the same amount of people as TV is mounting; in this case too it’s important not to underestimate the power of digital. Understanding the volume of active online consumers, the opportunity for gaining audience insights and measuring campaign success, together, suggests why digital media should not be ignored.

It’s vital to grasp how quickly internet has grown in terms of consumer usage. Pew Internet reported that around 79% of adults 18+ use the internet, compared to 46% in 2000.  People are using the internet for a variety of reasons from entertainment to news to connecting with friends. Furthermore, online video consumption is growing exponentially. Comscore reports that over 180 million US internet users watched online video in one month alone in 2011 for an average of 18 hours per week. Additionally, they measured that 71.6% of web users watch online video content each week. While some may assume that this is a trend that only caters to the youth, a study done by BurstMedia shows that the 55+ demographic isn’t too far behind the 18-34 demographic in terms of weekly online video content consumption (53.8% compared to 79.2%).

Because of the scale in which American adults are engaging with online video content, this provides advertisers with a sizeable opportunity to connect with their target audiences, drive traffic to their websites, gather email addresses, collect donations, or simply spread brand awareness. Research done by eMarketer shows that online video content is more likely to engage and encourage interaction than standard display media. In fact, 51% of all pre-roll ads are watched in full and 2.7% of viewers click through to the advertisers landing page (that is compared to a .07% standard display average click-through-rate). Even more impressive, they found that 18.2% of all online video viewers took an action based on what they saw in the ad.

The beauty of online advertising is that each impression (or ad view) is measurable on a variety of different levels.  Advertisers can not only connect with their target audiences but can now measure campaign return-on- investment (ROI) by setting goals at the front end of the campaign. Maybe your goal is to collect email addresses for further direct marketing; through online advertising we would be able to calculate how many people came from your ad and signed up to receive emails.  Or maybe your goal is simply brand awareness and getting your message in front of the most eyes. By communicating your message through online video we would be able to track how many people viewed the video, how long they viewed the video, and if they clicked through to the website.  Additionally, combining online with a traditional ad spend is likely to significantly increase brand awareness.  Nielsen reports that the combination of these two mediums will likely generate an 18% lift in brand recall than if TV was purchased alone. Adding interactive into any media plan not only extends reach and expands the ability to test messages across audiences and measure success, but also creates an opportunity to stand out among the competition.

As we get deeper into the 2012 election year, campaigns and issue groups who realize the massive reach and invaluable opportunities accessible to them via the internet will have the most success. So while traditional media may be the “obvious” front runner, like the Hare in Aesop’s fable, do not discount the internet for there is much it can achieve if you recognize its ability.

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