Traditional or Digital Ads?

In 2002, only 13% of americans had access to home broadband compared to 70% in 2014.In 2002, 44% owned a cell-phone, 77% had TVs and 94% would listen to weekly radio.

12 years later in 2014, 64% in own smartphones, 90% listen to radio weekly and 97% have televisions. People spend an average of eight hours and fifteen minutes consuming media through TV, radio and Internet every day.

Millennials are watching more TV online than other generations, about 356 videos per month (100 more than 35-54 year olds). Millennials are easier to target with digital ads because they typically visit more sites that tailor to specific audiences or interests.

They are also more likely to live in one-person households so their online activity reflects only their behavior as opposed to use on a shared computer in a larger household. However, it is harder to reach this generation with traditional TV ads because their viewing habits tend to be on-demand and across platforms. 90% skip ads when watching recorded TV, more than other age segments.

We are transitioning into the era of digital, however a study from Adroit Digital proves that millennials do not perceive traditional ads to be less effective. Their study reported that only 36% of US millennial smartphone users view digital ads as more effective, and 28% reported that digital and traditional ads are equally effective.

The report found that TV ads are still the most influential in perceiving/valuing a brand among millennials (70% reported this).

A study conducted by Harris Interactive found that millennials are more likely to ignore online ads, like banners and the ones displayed on social media and search engines compared to traditional TV, radio and newspaper ads. According to eMarketer, two in five males and half of all females did not pay attention to social media or search engines at all. Of all the demographics polled, millennials were the least likely to ignore TV ads, with only one quarter of each gender group doing so.

These findings highlight the importance of not ignoring traditional advertising, but establishing a presence on multiple platforms if your brand can afford it. Digital and social is cheaper than traditional and is a viable alternative to smaller companies and local businesses. However, if you are a national, well known brand, investing in multiple channels is the definitive strategy to gain maximal impact and brand influence.

YouTube ads

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One of the most popular platforms in which most millennials go to find their content is YouTube. In 2011 YouTube launched a new feature called TrueView ads, a service that allows advertisers to pay nothing to show their ads for the first five second before a video starts. After five seconds have passed, viewers have the option to either skip the rest of the ad or watch it all the way through. If they choose to watch it to completion or after 30 seconds (whatever comes first), the advertisers have to pay, but provides them with the most significant information; that the people watching them are actually paying attention and find the ads relevant. In 2009 only 53% of online video ads were watched to completion, according to Nikolay Antonov, Industry Manager at Google.

The reasons listed for people skipping ads are either having seen the ad before (22%), not being interested in the product (19%), not finding the  ideas in the ads interesting (14%) or the ideas not being relevant to the viewer (14%). 45% of users will always skip ads. According to YouTube’s own research, reports show that people who watch TrueView ads are over 75% more engaged than those who see standard pre-rolls. Viewers who watch TrueView ads feel on average 1% better about the brand. 59% of people who skip TrueView ads and 81% of the people who watched them all the way through recognized the ads later, compared to 21% who were not exposed to any of the ads.

Google’s data showed that people who watched a TrueView ad showed 388% higher engagement than people who viewed the same ads as a standard pre-roll. However, they also found that people who saw an ad as a standard preroll showed the highest levels of brand linkage and spontaneous awareness- possibly because people who opted to watch TrueView were drawn in by the creative content and less focused on branding messages. For the optimal mix, YouTube recommends a mixed targeted strategy; using standard pre rolls to reach a target audience and use TrueView ads to achieve broader reach in an efficient way.


The emergence of Second Screen real time shopping

There are also recent advances in the realm of mobile shopping. According to the NPD Group, 87% of americans watch television while using a smartphone or tablet device. Among the second-screen viewers, 47% have participated in show-related activities. At this point, most of these users are using their devices searching to find further information about the shows they are watching. In near future, content owners, advertisers, and broadcasters will collaborate to present an aligned second-screen viewing that will appeal to viewers and allow advertisers to connect in real time.


The report by NPD Group showed that the third most popular second-screen activity was shopping for a product seen in a TV commercial.

The report by NPD Group showed that the third most popular second-screen activity was shopping for a product seen in a TV commercial.

The american retail company Target recently tapped into this market. Target is among the first to enable users to shop the products in TV Shows, starting with the popular TV show “Cougar Town”. The moment the products appear on television screens, viewers will be encouraged to purchase them on their second screens.

The benefits of this sort of advertising is that you are able to bring the products to where to your consumers eyes are, encouraging them to instant purchases.

The benefits of this sort of advertising is that you are able to bring the products to where to your consumers eyes are, encouraging them to instant purchases.

Interactive Videos

Interactive videos are receiving great consumer feedback. According to Emarketer, interactive videos engage viewers and increase the probability of watching them through the end. In North America interaction rates were 6,62% and impressions with any interaction were 5.35%. The start rate for interactive videos was at 84% and were played up to 50% of the videos duration- with 70% played all the way through. Emarketer suspects US digital video ad spending to grow 41% this year to hit $5.9billion and more than double by 2012 ($12.3 billion).

Mobile ads

According to Nielsen, 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching television. Advertisers are increasingly asking how they can make their mobile ads relevant to the first-screen content. Twitter and Facebook are currently the best platforms for second screen ads, as much of the time spent on devices during TV-time is on a social network. Roughly one-sixth of viewers engage in “real-time” socializing about what they are watching, according to eMarketer. The younger viewers are, the more likely they are watching with a second screen.

An example is The American Museum of Natural History who tried leverage the chatter surrounding the show “Games of Thrones” on HBO by posting a promotion featuring the tagline “The night is dark and full of pterosaurs” (playing off the original “the night is dark and full of terrors”) to promote their new dinosaur exhibit.


This new way of advertising proves popular, especially for brands lacking huge media budgets. Popular ways include offering coupons or discounts for respondents on social media, directing viewers to a website or using new second screen apps that sync with television programming.


People still watch real time TV and are more engaged if watching it with a second screen present. During commercials the attention shifts, but syncing the ad with the second screen keeps the viewer engaged.

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