Battle of the Titans: TV and Digital Go Head to Head to Grab U.S. Media Dollars

Is TV Ad Spend Working NinthDecimal and TiVo Research Team Up to Tackle That QuestionThe battle of the titans has arrived. It was only a matter of time, as the former champion — television — now faces a formidable revenue-grabbing foe: digital advertising.

Part of the battle is a generational one. In fact, a new eMarketer report — “Television Update Fall 2016: Is the Surge in TV Ad Spending a Normal Shift or a Trend?” — points to fresh Nielsen data revealing that U.S. viewers under the age of 35 spent roughly half as much weekly time in front of the TV than their older counterparts.

“The sum of weekly time spent with apps, desktop internet, video, game consoles, and multimedia (over-the-top) devices by U.S. consumers ages 18 to 34 exceeded their time spent with live TV,” notes the eMarketer report. “Ad experiences can differ greatly across these platforms. For example, TV commercials fill an entire screen, multiple internet display ads might run on single pages and in-app ads may appear within a game’s background scenes.”

Data from Magna Global (July, 2016) shows that U.S. digital and TV ad spending are in a dead heat for a share of available advertising dollars, with each medium expected to garner about 38% of average media plan budget allocation this year.

“But digital’s share of media ad expenditures was projected to surpass 50 percent by 2020, while TV’s portion is forecast to fall to about 33 percent,” according to eMarketer. “Unless the entire advertising pie increases dramatically over the next few years, the expectation under the Magna Global scenario is that TV ad spending will either flatline or decline.”

Magna Global’s figures jive with eMarketer forecasts projecting that U.S. digital ad spending’s share of total media ad spending will exceed TV’s share for the first time this year.

As advertisers decide how best to allocate spending across media given the surge in digital media use, some things are clear. Digital will increase and fairly dramatically going forward. In the meantime, TV is holding on — and it’s clear its share of ad spend has largely come at the expense of print media, whose share has been in steep decline.

“Print brands are now digital brands and all traditional media are becoming video media,” explained Brian Hughes, senior vice president of audience intelligence and strategy at Magna Global. “So you have the Condé Nasts or the Time Incs. of the world investing heavily in video now.”