TV vs. Mobile — Which is the Future of Advertising ?


Unlike many conferences, the recent Spencer Stuart CMO Summit in New York featured a panel discussion of “protagonists” – people charged with being provocative and, well, protagonistic.

On the one side were the “Mobile is the Future” crowd. Included in this groups were representatives of Google, social media agencies and various change the world digital start ups.

Is the Future Mobile ?

On the other side were the TV is still the Future Luddites (me). I’m usually agnostic when it comes to media platforms–I only care about what works and why–but was charged with TV advocacy for this forum.

Mobile is the Future

Let’s let the Mobile crowd go first. They argued that Mobile is the future of advertising and marketing. Why?

  1. Mobile is Locational – Having the web at your fingertips at the 1st moment of truth will change everything. Transparency and knowledge will rule brands in the future. Want to know if there are lower prices on your item? Scan the UPC via Red Laser and find out prices in your area. Want to know if your car repair estimate is reasonable? Check out the RepairPal app.
  1. Mobile is Umbilical – Mobile phones have one really unique characteristic—they’ve virtually attached to their owners (except when they’re lost—but there’s an app for that too). This means that Marketers will have the ability to access consumers virtually anytime, anywhere—and most helpfully, when they’re engaged in activities most relevant to the Marketer.
  1. Mobile is Global – Forget the PC. In developing markets, consumers are moving directly from no web access to mobile web access. PC’s are old school. In India alone, there are already more than 500M consumers with mobile phones. The Mobile phone, and especially the Smart Phone, will be the direct route to global consumers in the future.
  1. Mobile is Embryonic – The vast majority of web sites are not yet designed for mobile. This leads to a sub-optimal consumer experience for most web applications. Wireless speed and quality are continuing to improve. The mobile experience will only improve as web sites are optimized for mobile and network speed and quality improve.
  1. Mobile is Closed Loop – The announcement of Google Wallet finally brings important players to the web payment space. The most interesting part of this story is that this will open up opportunities to connect “what people watch” and “what people buy” at the point of sale—a closed loop to prove marketing effectiveness at last.

It all sounds pretty compelling, doesn’t it? Until you realize that Mobile advertising today represents only ~1% of TV ad spend. Where’s all the demand?

TV Advertising -- (Still) the Future

TV is (Still) the Future

Marketers are clearly still voting for TV with their increasingly squeezed advertising dollars. Why ?

  1. TV is Impact – Numerous market mix modeling studies show that TV advertising continues to work—average ROI’s are in-line with digital and higher than print, couponing and other promotional activities.
  1. TV is Accountable – What do you buy when you buy mobile? Impressions—whatever that means. What did you get when you buy TV? Guaranteed audience, and if not, make goods. The fact of the matter is that TV is currently more accountable for audience delivery  than Mobile.
  1. TV will be Social – People love to talk about their favorite TV shows. And they love social networks. Social will increasingly come to TV, and when it does, there will be a big opportunity for brands to leverage the TV/Social interface.
  2. TV will be Targeted – The advent of “single-source” what people watch/what people buy panels and the ability to “fuse” psychographic and buyer behavior characteristics with TV consumption behavior is enabling TV advertisers to target on non-demographic variables in ways that were difficult before.
  1. TV will be Responsive – TV advertisers can now use tools to do “response based targeting.” That is, they can identify groups of consumers who best respond to their advertising, and then target these consumers more effectively without wasting dollars on non-responsive consumers. TV ad performance isn’t static, in fact, it’s only going to get better.

TV vs. Mobile — Which Will Win ?

So what’s the answer—will TV or Mobile advertising rule the future? If you’ve been reading carefully, you probably know the answer by now–it’s a false choice, a trick question. They’re going to both be important.

It’s actually a Marketers dream: even more effective, more targeted TV advertising PLUS the geo-locational and immediacy advantages of Mobile. It’s the intersection of these mediums that will define the future.

And what protagonist CMO wouldn’t want a future like that?

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