In brief

In brief

  • Marketers are shifting ad spend from traditional channels (especially TV) to digital channels. But in doing so, they risk eroding brand ROI.
  • TV generates superior brand-building ROI and helps generate a multiplier effect when paired with other channels in the same publisher ecosystem.
  • Marketers must rethink TV's role in the mix and use data, technology, analytics and process to guide their investments in brand and measure impact.

Marketers have been flooding digital channels with advertising dollars in the belief these fast-growing channels are the best places to get in front of the right audiences. And in doing so, they’re starving their traditional channels that have been the beneficiaries of ad spend—particularly television, which has long been considered the best channel for brand building. Is this the right move? New research from Accenture Strategy, commissioned by NBCUniversal, says otherwise.

Television remains a powerful brand-building and sales generation channel

Key findings:

Our study found that TV continues to be a high-performing media channel, outpacing digital media vehicles like Short Form Video and Social Media in brand-building—while delivering strong bottom-of-the-funnel impact and influencing sales long after a campaign has run.

Finding #1. Television generates superior brand-building ROI—and not just at the top of the funnel. Relative to other media channels, TV drives impressive brand performance, second only to Paid Search. In fact, one of the most surprising findings is TV’s strong lower-funnel brand performance relative to most channels. This counters conventional wisdom that TV’s strength is mostly in impacting top-of-the funnel metrics such as Brand Awareness and Ad Awareness and comparatively weaker in impact closer to actual buying behavior.

Television delivers surprising stronger lower-funnel brand performance

Finding #2. Television has a significant enhancement, or “halo effect,” on the impact of digital channels, as measured by brand ROI. TV’s Brand Awareness halo contributes 27 percent of the ROI that’s attributed to Paid Search. After readjusting brand impact to account for the halo effect, TV actually outpaces Paid Search in Brand Awareness ROI. We saw a similar situation with TV and its halo effect on Social Media’s return on Quality—with the latter’s ROI overstated by 22 percent and the former’s understated by 4 percent.

Finding #3. Television has the longest measured impact on both brand and sales. Previous studies have noted TV generates a “holdover effect” that can drive sales ROI for more than three years past a campaign. The same holds true with brand metrics. If a brand ended advertising on TV, short-term incremental sales would decline to zero by the end of Year 1. Over the next two years, long-term incremental sales would decline to zero. Afterward, base sales would start to degrade.

Finding #4. Television helps generate a multiplier effect when paired with other channels in the same publisher ecosystem. Publisher Ecosystem Buying, defined as ads bought with the same publisher on Premium Video and TV, yields higher returns than discrete single-channel campaigns. It performs 60 percent better than the average media channel in brand performance ROI. It’s more effective than Short Form Video, outperforming the latter by a large margin in brand ROI across the marketing funnel. Furthermore, across brand metrics, Publisher Ecosystem Buying delivers an average of 60 percent lift over Premium Video and a 10 percent lift over TV in isolation.

Relative brand performance of publisher ecosystem buying

Implications for marketers

With TV demonstrating a clear advantage over other channels in building brands, marketers should:

  • Rethink Television’s role in the media mix. Newer media vehicles simply don’t deliver enough brand or sales performance to justify significant increases in advertising investment. Additional investments in TV balanced with associated increases in investment in key digital channels creates a more optimal mix.
  • Consider investing in premium content and content-driven display ads. Ads placed against more premium content—long the domain of TV—outperform ads placed against other forms of content. This proves that the quality of underlying content plays an important role in brand-building.
  • Invest in premium content within the same publisher ecosystem. Investment in Premium Video placement, when focused on integrated linear and premium digital placements within the same publisher ecosystem, significantly and positively impact brand building and improve CPM-based efficiency.

The bottom line: Marketers should rebuild the way they determine how to invest in brand and measure its impact.

The time is now for marketers to take action in four key areas to get far better at determining how to spend their precious resource:

Marketers need to use the many sources of data available to evaluate the impact of investments on branding and on category, and need to adopt a formal way to gather media expenditures across all channels at the publisher level.

Marketers should invest in systems to make data available to media planners and executives to help them more effectively evaluate media efficacy.

Marketers should embrace analytics that enable them to associate their media spend with brand awareness and sales data.

Media planners should develop a new process for how they think about media ROI, using data and insights generated by analytics to manage short- and long-term planning and optimize spend at the publisher level.

By using the data, tools, and practices now available to make deep changes to their decision-making capabilities, marketers can make more fact-based decisions on advertising allocation—and dramatically improve the return on those investments. Networks can help advertisers improve media budgeting and performance by better articulating the ROI their medium generates.

Mike Chapman​​

Media & Entertainment and Video Strategy Global Lead – Accenture Strategy

Matthew Fanno​

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy​

Craig Macdonald

Managing Director – Accenture Digital


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