watching televisionWith all the attention digital advertising receives – advertising videos going viral, targeted ads, social media marketing, etc. – marketers may assume that this form of advertising offers the highest return on investment. But, there is some surprising recently published research that proves otherwise. According to an extensive study conducted by marketing analytics company MarketShare, digital advertising does not even come close to television advertising in the categories of advertising effectiveness, usage and reach.

Marketshare conducted a study comparing advertising usage, reach and effectiveness from 2009 -2011 vs. 2012 – 2014 for television, online display, paid search, print and radio advertising.  A categories’ advertising effectiveness was defined as its ability to drive key performance indicators (KPIs) like sales and new accounts over the last five years.  Out of all the advertising mediums, TV was the only one that was able to maintain its effectiveness with just a 1.5 percent decrease over the past five years, while the other’s declined over 10 percent.  Even in the hot category of online video, television came out on top for advertising effectiveness.   According to an article in Adweek.com reporting on the same media study, “networks’ [broadcast and cable] premium digital video delivered higher than average returns when compared with short-form video content from non-premium publishers.”

TV is way ahead of the pack in terms of audience reach as well. CBS Corp. conducted its own research study of over 300 campaigns representing brands from a variety of consumer categories.  It found that with an average target reach of 67%, 53% of people saw television ads.  These results were consistent across many industries. In an example mentioned by Mediapost, “in observing 20 insurance company cross-platform campaigns, the average reach of the target market was 74%, with 62% seeing only the TV ads, 8% witnessing both TV and digital ads, and only 4% seeing digital ads.”  The conclusion here is that digital advertising should be looked at as a supplement to an overall advertising campaign and certainly not a replacement for TV advertising.

Finally, taking a look at the usage category, you guessed it, TV was the clear winner.  According to a Nielsen report, “For overall media usage, adults spend just over 36 weekly hours compared to 12:58 for radio, 5:34 on a PC, 7:17 on a smartphone, and 3:34 on a tablet.”

Despite all the buzz about digital becoming the new king of advertising, the rise of social media usage and of the rise in popularity of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Roku, it turns out that TV has remained unscathed over the past five years.