DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE – BELIEVE THE FACTS. TV ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE, WRITES JOHN HARRISON, GROUP STRATEGY DIRECTOR AND EFFECTIVENESS LEAD.

With the recent launch of another streaming service in the form of Disney+, perhaps it’s not surprising that a relatively senior creative recently informed me that “TV advertising has had its day”.

So, in order that we can all make more informed judgements, please join me as I shatter some common myths about the big glowing box in our homes.


Myth 1: TV watching is in decline.


Fact: Total TV viewing has been very stable at around 3hours 40 mins a day for the past 10 years.


Myth 2: But no-one watches ‘live TV’ anymore, they all watch Netflix nowadays.


Fact: Subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc as well as iPlayer, ITV Hub etc have grown very quickly and now make up about 17% of TV viewing time (37 mins per day). But the majority of TV watching is still watched live (2½ hours; 67%) or on ‘catch-up’ they’ve recorded (15%).


Myth 3: Young people don’t watch TV anymore


Fact: It’s true that 16-34 year olds only watch half the ‘traditional’ TV that older people watch. However, ‘live TV’ still makes up the largest part of their video viewing day.

And this lower amount of ‘live TV viewing’ is driven by the younger young people (those aged under 25) and those without kids. So those aged 25-34 years old who have kids still watch, on average, over 2 hours of TV on a TV set per day.


Myth 4: YouTube is how most people (especially younger people) will see AV advertising.

Fact: It really isn’t. 93% of all AV advertising is seen on either live or playback TV. Even for the younger audience this figure is 82%. If you really want people to see your AV advertising then you should put it on TV.


Myth 5: You know what you’re getting with digital advertising – so you can prove the effectiveness.

Fact: Unfortunately, digital advertising isn’t proving to be the panacea of accountability or effectiveness that it was promised to be. Obviously, some digital campaigns and activities are phenomenally effective – especially if you want to drive immediate action/sales. However, recent articles and studies have started to question just how effective digital comms are at driving action, especially action that was going to happen anyway. There’s
also the issue of fraud and bots – with some estimates as high as 1/4 of all online video views being fraudulent.


Whilst other econometric modelling studies (admittedly from Thinkbox – the TV lobby group) have shown that TV delivers by far the majority of advertising-generated profit.


This is perhaps not surprising given the importance we know that emotion has in driving advertising effectiveness – and TV ads are great at delivering emotion (when done properly).


Myth 6: You’re just saying this because you’re old school and jealous of our youth.


Fact: I’m absolutely not saying that every campaign should be TV led. Digital channels offer us a huge opportunity to engage in ways that TV simply cannot achieve. We should always start every brief with the question “How can creativity be deployed to solve this business problem?” – and not with “What’s the adspace I need to fill?”.


I’m just giving you some facts that disprove some of the common myths that are mindlessly repeated in our industry. Depressingly, one reason that I’m sure these facts aren’t championed more, is the fear people have of appearing to be ‘old school’ if they raise them.

And besides, why would I be jealous of younger people who drink less alcohol, take fewer drugs, and have less sex than I was having at your age? As Oscar Wilde rightfully said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”