Where Influence Lives

Posted by

"TV still has the most influence on purchasing decisions in five major markets — even among Internet users — according to a study conducted in September and October 2008 by Deloitte."

That is how the eMarketer news item, And the Most Influential Media Is…, kicked off yesterday. That is the news and that is why television advertising is where it is and why it continues to maintain its position. Whether us Internet people like it or not, more people like to sit back and let the TV wash over them than hang out online and be the captain of the journey that requires action, participation and reading. After a long, hard day at work, the majority of people like to kick back and forget the day, instead of thinking about something pithy to say or futzing around with wires to transfer their digital pictures online.

It’s probably a totally different audience as well. 

What do these types of surveys really mean? Do you think someone who is a very active TV watcher has similar buying habits and behaviours to those of a heavy Internet user? We can all answer this question in an anecdotal manner, but that would be a fascinating study. In the above news item, both TV and magazines advertising have more impact on the buying decisions of Internet users in select countries over the Internet itself. Are we saying one thing (like, "all TV advertising is annoying") but meaning another? By the sounds of this study, we’re falling back into the classic adage that we say one thing, but do something completely different.

"Television’s dominance came despite the majority of consumers in all five countries saying their computers were used more for entertainment than their TVs. Deloitte said the top two Internet ad influences across all countries were search engine results and banner ads."

In the online world, it’s all about search engines and banner ads. Interestingly, online social networks fell into seventh place, well behind newspapers, billboards and radio. But, that makes perfect sense…

"The reason TV continues to hold such sway is partially a matter of momentum, since TV ad spending still dwarfs spending on other media — especially online. eMarketer estimates advertisers spent nearly $70 billion on TV ads in 2008, compared with $23.6 billion online."

Which leads to the logical question:

When does that tide really begin to shift and change the landscape?


  1. I would love to see how they gathered the data; what questions were asked and how the respondents were choosen.
    I did notice that Japan’s love of mobile is reflected in their figures.
    The conclusion that the article came to is pretty illogical. The viewer does not decide what to be influenced by based on what is spent on the ad.

  2. to answer your question, probably when digital advertisers develop the same expertise it took their traditional couterparts decades to achieve. Internet advertising, when done right, is much more effective and less costly than a TV spot or even some print ads are. Trouble is too many advertisers still get it horribly wrong and struggle with truly integrated campaigns to this day.
    see CNN headlines t-shirts Vs nondescript banner taking you to a corporate website where you can read about the fascinating world of razorblades for a perfect example.
    Brands need to become useful, and offer something instead of simply being there. they can afford to interrupt people’s lives on TV. not so much online when as you say the user has complete control.

  3. Hey Mitch,
    Thanks for this post, I find this to be a very interesting subject matter.
    Though I’m often surprised by the degree to which TV outperforms online, I can definitely corroborate these results, and in more than an anecdotal manner.
    The ad evaluation studies that I’ve done of multi-channel campaigns (TV and web, as well as print, radio, etc.) almost invariably yield higher recall of TV ads.
    But not only that — they also suggest a higher ATTRIBUTION of ad recall to the TV medium. Yes — even ads that never appeared on TV, but only in, say, print, are recalled as TV ads.
    Many people will see an ad in the paper, or online, or some other non-TV setting… and yet, in their recollection, they saw it on TV. In some cases, more people cite TV than the medium in which the ad actually appeared.
    A bit. But it also makes sense, I think. To most people, TV is the great advertising medium. “I hate ads” invariably refers to TV ads. TV, ads… ads, TV… they go together. In people’s minds.
    One further upshot of this, however — and this should give (us) internet folks some hope — is that the effectiveness of online advertising may be UNDER estimated, because some proportion of survey respondents attribute the ad they recall to TV even if they saw it online.
    The important thing, as we all know, is that they recall the ad in the first place (regardless of where they THINK they saw it)… and, even more importantly, that they recall the brand and the message.

  4. I don’t think it is a matter of the tide shifting from TV to online media. I would like to believe that as I am entrenched in the online media world, but I don’t think it is an either or situation. Does it have to be one way or the other? I ask you,do the Six Pixels of Separation Community members really only do one or other? Most of the time, I am on the laptop, wirelessly connected to my Apple Airport, watching TV simultaneously and listening to podcasts on one ear. TV is a push advertising medium, much like print media, whereas online, you are in front of the ad because you hunted down the content and in most cases, the ad is relevant to your search results. (Contextual Advertising) I do find it interesting that TV is quoted for ads not seen on TV in Jonathan Karpfen’s above post. I would be interested in reading about this case study or other similar case studies. If you have any references you could post to the community, I would appreciate it.
    On another note, I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago that in Las Vegas, a new TV was released that is now internet ready, finally. I think this is great news, but also, not so great. I am most certainly the type of person that likes to unwind and just watch the TV when I am out of energy to do anything else. Do any of you feel this would create an either or situation in the household? I think it would force you to be either online on your TV because of the convenience or offline, watching the TV. A definite divide in the making.

  5. Interested results.
    Do you have the link to the original press release by Deloitte? I get the feeling this was a study conducted on a UK audience and was only held online – which would be a type of bias I would think.

  6. I’m surprised that there was no mention of 2 aspects of the study:
    – The distribution of ages of respondents
    – The types of products whose advertisements were tested
    Based on other studies, age is an important factor in predicting where people are going to get their information.
    And it seems likely that the product categories you ask about are likely to influence the responses you get.
    There are certain categories (automobiles for example) where people increasingly get their information online almost independent of age or other demographic factors. I imagine that there are others where the opposite holds true.

  7. Hi Mitch,
    I think to push your thoughts further, we’d need to pull out complete psychographical and consumption habits for both TV and Internet heavy users and compare them.
    As you know, annecdotal is great, but only to those who A- get it or B- have an open enough mind to accept it – which invariably leaves out most everyone that doesn’t want to change what’s so easy to repeat as an ad buying behavior.
    Getting real numbers side by side we’d probably se behaviors and consumption profiles that are really quite different, something major advertiser execs won’t be able to refute

  8. I don’t see it as one or the other, TV or the Internet. It’s more about the continued blurring of the lines. How do you leverage to power and reach of TV with the advertising benefits of the Internet? Each are only part of the mix.
    I’m going along with Jason’s great comment but I’m not quite sure about the divide between the two. At the just finished CES, we saw TV makers are offering more Internet integration in their upcoming lines. We’ll start with YouTube, Netflix and widgets but the potential from there is great. Once we all begin to plug our TVs into our networks, the lines blur even more. TV ads that are displayed based on my browing history and interests? The ability to comment about ads/products/etc. and link to my Facebook account from the comfort of my couch and my remote control? A integrated system like this would not only provide more bang for the marketing buck but be more convenient and a better overall experience for the consumer.

  9. I agree in part with Justin, I’m not sure that it is TV or the Internet, there is a continuing blurring that is content based rather than platform based.
    There is a media specific argument, since the audience split is what it is -and there are things the net does the TV doesn’t – futzing with uploading pictures being one of them.
    To answer your question – I think the tide shifts as numbers like this continue to grow.
    “CTV online properties break revenue and traffic records”
    Plus individuals really ask themselves in this tough economic climate … do I need all those specialty channels, can watch online? Or do I really need a new TV for this DTV thing?
    Glitches have to be ironed out, and demand has to be met … when you turn on your TV or Radio there is none of the buffeting or other hick-ups that occur online. That said – numbers are increasingly positive. The internet beat cable for the Obama inauguration for example, the CNN.com/Facebook alliance dominating, plus ads were smarter about their tie ins to the medium and event.
    I have to acknowledging Jonathan’s point, I’m not sure what the impacts are on consumer influence/recall or how this plays from a media buyer perspective.
    But I think the tide is shifting and blurring.

  10. When you look at someone’s living room, the TV is almost always central, which is why those who don’t know how to build their own media computers or how to set up utorrent, they will always rely on the cable networks to deliver content.
    I think the tides will really turn with TV and the Internet join forces. Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and Vizio are all planning on launching Internet-ready TV’s.

  11. Mitch,
    I think the key understanding between the forward and back leaners is not debating the value of one channel over another as much as understanding the incremental value of the content being offered.
    over time, mass-ive media will transition to the online channel not because of any philosophical bias but simply to follow the money. Just as consumers will migrate there for the additional content value they seek and bandwidth providers will seek to set a price reflective of the competition from cable/satellite providers.
    the only certainty is the long tail fragmentation, which is a discussion for another time perhaps

Comments are closed.