Does TV advertising work?

SUMMARY: TV advertising can work for new products at the grocery store, but brands need an in-depth understanding of the decision path that coverts prospects into consumers.

Forecasts by both GroupM, the WPP-owned media investment company, and IPG Mediabrands-owned Magna Global predict that 2020 will be the year that digital advertising spend overtakes that of traditional advertising, as reported by the Financial Times. GroupM predicts that overall ad spending will fall by 11.8% worldwide, but traditional ad formats such as television, newspapers and outdoor advertising will take the bulk of the damage, falling by 20.7% compared to just 2.4% for pure digital ad spending. The end of TV? Hardly.

Last week DiGiorno launched a new product, Croissant Crust Pizza. It did so with a huge TV ad blitz followed by FSIs in the local newspapers. For this product, TV makes a lot of sense, but for others, it may not.

Brand marketers should know about their audience, such as: “do my customers want to go online to learn more about my product?”. A frozen pizza will either appeal to people who love frozen pizzas, or it’s won’t. Some people may go online to see if there are discount coupons, but for most, it’s not a decision that requires the Internet.

Mobile currently accounts for 33.9% of total U.S. ad spend, passing TV as the most prominent advertising medium in the world’s largest ad market. Their projections show mobile expanding to 47.9% of U.S. ad spend by 2022, while TV is predicted to decline from 31.6% to 24.8%.


In the case of DiGiorno TV advertising is the perfect way to reach consumers but in this age of skepticism TV ad dollars can lead to a huge waste of money.

For most hard goods TV drives awareness but the internet, along with retail displays and print ads, drive conversion.

I’m a huge bicycle advocate and ride 100+ miles a week. The pandemic and tariffs have created a huge shortage in carbon bikes, bike accessories, and parts. Whenever a new product is announced, I am sure that people will appear on my social media cycling groups to ask about them.

For example, Trek’s just introduced a new road tire with more puncture protection. At first, it seems like a good idea, but most cyclists know that more puncture protection usually means heavier tires which equates to slower rides. Before buying the products, I’ve seen many people go online to ask others about that very question. In this case, the web and customer reviews will play a big part in the purchase decision.

Brands need an in-depth understanding of what the path to conversion entails. I would say that for 99% of the grocery store products, TV and FSIs have a bigger impact than TV ads.

Marketers are doing research with consumers, but very few conduct research with existing customers, and that’s a mistake. As a marketer, I want to know the element that converted a prospect to a customer, and I want to know everything about them.

While brands are jumping on social media for advertising, too many aren’t using social media as a direct research line to consumers. Consumers use social media as a passive-aggressive way to talk to brands. It’s easy to say how upset you are that your new iPhone is having problems rather than contacting Apple directly.

I personally have stopped watching most TV programs. Commercials are annoying, and I don’t have the time to sit through 3 minutes of garbage. With cord-cutting on the rise, most viewers feel the same way, but TV is a great way to reach consumers for some product categories. You need to know when it’s time to pull the plug on your TV ads.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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