What Digital Buyers Need to Understand about Traditional TV Advertising


IF YOU SPEND MUCH TIME ONLINE, it won’t come as a surprise that digital video advertising is exploding.

Based on eMarketer projections, spending on digital video will nearly double from $7.46 billion in 2015 to $14.77 billion in $2019. But what may come as a surprise, considering the spectacular growth of digital video advertising, is that plenty of traditional TV advertisers aren’t yet familiar with the ins and outs of buying on digital.

For digital video advertising to continue its rapid growth for years ahead, traditional TV advertisers will need to grow increasingly comfortable with buying digital. And it will be up to those selling digital video ads to make the transition as smooth as possible for TV buyers. The catch? Before digital video sellers can help TV buyers enter the digital realm, they first need to understand how traditional TV buyers think. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the basic terminology of traditional TV advertising to better understand how the concepts can be translated for video.


Pods are the traditional 30-second blocks that networks allot for TV advertisements. Because analysis of ad recall shows that viewers pay more attention to shorter commercial breaks, digital video advertisers can attract media buyers by customizing the digital equivalent of pods to make them more effective. Digital video advertisers can also use new programmatic technology that, similar to a TV commercial break, makes it possible to traffic more than one video ad in a sequenced group. Such programmatic spots come with the added advantage of real-time engagement and comprehensive analytics that media buyers can pass on to their clients.


Reach the number of viewers who can potentially view an ad during a given period raises an interesting question for digital video advertisers, as the debate between quantity and quality rages. In traditional TV advertising, reach multiplied by frequency of viewing deter – mines the number of gross rating points. This standard measure of advertising impact provides television media buyers with an important metric for evaluation.

Companies that are starting to straddle the world of TV and digital are now experimenting with ways to break convention. For example, Vice’s recently launched TV channel Viceland has set a limit of eight minutes of commercials each hour. Ad – Age notes that “the size of Viceland’s audience may not matter as much as it does on other TV networks if it lives up to its promise to bring in younger viewers who are not currently watching TV.”


Dayparting is used in television to break down a day into targeted time slots. To make this concept more applicable to the digital realm, digital video sellers will need to translate strategies for media buyers who are accustomed to thinking of stagnant viewers – that is, individuals who sit in front of a television during a given time of the day. For starters, digital sellers can stress that digital platforms allow for mobility, both geographically and in terms of when and how viewers see advertising. The more that traditional TV advertisers understand about the rise of mobile and how differently we now consume content, the faster the transition will be from television to digital video advertising.


Forecasting allows television buyers to plan around seasonal considerations, such as premieres, finales, and holidays all of which are discrete points in time. Digital videos, on the other hand, can be watched continuously and are thus not relegated to specific days or moments. Rather than presenting this as a short – coming, digital video sellers can point out that they have more flexibility, since audiences can watch a show’s premiere for days on end after the launch. This can translate to more opportunities to sell advertising at competitive rates. Still, digital video advertisers may have to meet media buyers in the middle by analyzing the differences between tele – vision and digital and determining how to best package sales in a way that takes these differences into consideration.


Targeting ads to specific viewers is one area where digital offers a large advantage over TV, and so presents a great opportunity to help TV buyers appreciate the benefits of digital video advertising. BrightRoll found that more than half of American ad agency professionals identified targeting as “the most valuable digital video advertising feature for their clients.” In their 2015 Agency Forecast Survey, Strata similarly reported that nearly two-thirds of these professionals cited targeting as the most effective tactic for attracting viewers.


Once traditional TV advertisers truly learn the language of digital media buyers, there’s little question they’ll begin to make the transition. Indeed, they may find that they have no choice but to make the shift in order to remain competitive. Nielsen reports that internet video ads have higher impact than TV ads on metrics ranging from message and brand recall to ad likeability. Now it’s up to the sellers of digital video advertising to make sure the word gets out.