t20 > news > TV or Digital? Why there’s an ‘and’ missing.

TV or Digital? Why there’s an ‘and’ missing.

    Rod Curtis, Managing Director


Anyone with even a fledgling interest in AFL would be familiar with the ‘demise of the key forward’ narrative: ‘The game is changing fast and the key forwards role is being usurped by the nimble and flexible next-gens’.

And anyone with a passing interest in advertising would have heard the same thinking applied to television: ‘Yesterday’s big impact media is being out-maneuvered by the digital juggernaut’.

Bad calls, I say.

Nothing comes close to putting bums on seats, cranking up the excitement and dispensing unforgettable WTF moments than television and key forwards. Because when on song, they can both crack their respective games open like a brittle coconut.

Make no mistake, television is still king. It can ignite a campaign, delivering bone-crunching impact and an emotional connection like no other media. And this is the kicker: TV works hand-in-hand with digital. Complementing the work of the gun forward, digital is the clever forward flanker.

The facts are plain: every week, television reaches more than 88%1 of Australians, with 81%2 watching Free-To-Air daily. Critically, ‘the box’ is still our screen of choice, accounting for 88% of our total viewing time3. And Television still ranks as the leading media influencer on consumer buying decisions4. Those are serious game-influencing numbers.

So, why all the talk of the television throne being toppled? I suspect, in part, it’s the allure of digital analytics where, seemingly, you can measure anything then apply a key indicator to suit. Much like footy, really. Then the results can be presented up the food-chain as irrefutable hard data. It’s the marketing equivalent of the ‘don’t argue’.

I will, however, argue otherwise. Just because something is seemingly more measurable, doesn’t mean it’s more meaningful. Numbers only tell us about the online interaction. Not what registered on people’s emotional Geiger Counter. Or how the ‘game’ actually played out. They merely relate the score.

Marketing should be more of an intuitive, gut instinct thing, I believe. Follow the habits of your consumers, engage in meaningful ways, say something compelling. Easy. If consumers just watched TV that would be the only media you’d use. Even easier still.

But that isn’t real life. Marketers always need to move with the eyeballs. And today, the eyeballs are everywhere. Factor in how modern life is like a Swiss Army Knife – we multi-task with everything we do – and you have a new species of consumers with ping-ponging attention.

Own up now, who amongst us parks in front of the telly with one eye on our smartphone, tablet or laptop? Well, according to those who measure such things, 85% of Australians do5

We don’t just watch TV these days – we simultaneously post to forums, comment on social media and involve our friends. Indeed, 40% of all tweets generated during primetime are about television6.

Underscoring the raw power of television and how it can be seamlessly augmented by digital, was our recent experience with the Big Freeze At The ‘G campaign for Motor Neurone Disease.

We had a great starting point: buckets of industry goodwill and a high-profile patron in former AFL champion and MND sufferer Neale Daniher. When the 6-week campaign wrapped, a staggering $2.4 million - smashing the initial target – and untold awareness was raised. Importantly, the Big Freeze became a self-generating cultural phenomenon with extraordinary and unexpected reach. 

Crossing over into mainstream media, The Big Freeze was a major nationwide news story in its own right. As the number one trending topic on numerous occasions, it owned social media too. It also motivated high-profile people, including our Prime Minister, to become involved. And, according to Channel 7, the gameday activation significantly increased ratings of the Queen’s Birthday game, most notably tripling the pre-game viewing audience.

All quite staggering. I firmly believe we wouldn’t have achieved what we did without the power of television driving an emotional message that rallied and inspired people. Activating the campaign, television was, without a doubt, our dominant key forward.

By now, you probably realise I dismiss the ‘TV is dead, it’s now digital-only, mate’ mantra as the utterances of a false prophet.  Write-off the power of television at your brand’s detriment, I say. Hell, even dedicated online brands employ television to carry their message. This year, Airbnb launched their ‘Never A Stranger’ campaign via primetime television, supported by digital.

Don’t get me wrong, TV isn’t the be-all and end-all. Nor am I a digital flat-earther. I’m merely contending that with our balanced media diet - where the consumption of TV and the internet are now roughly equal7 – there’s a new ‘greater scheme of things’. And one in which TV still plays a key role.

So when you see a key forward kick a big goal, think of television. And when you see a nippy half forward capitalise on the work of a key forward, think of television and social media working together. Television is not only still king, it’s also creating more scoring opportunities than ever before.


1 Think TV, August 2015, ‘Australian Television Viewing’, thinktv.com.au
2 Crosby Textor, May 2015, ‘TV Habits, Consumption and Methods Report’
3 Op Cit
4 Deloitte, 2015, ‘Media Consumer 2015 4th Edition
5 Op Cit
6 Op Cit

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