It’s Time to Pop this Marketing Bubble
06 March 2017 • tvsquared

As marketers, do we live in a bubble? This was an interesting question posed by Michael Zimbalist, the CMO of Simulmedia, during the Industry Preview conference earlier this year. And I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

The U.S. is a nation of 325 million people. Yes, we are fiercely divided politically – in a way many of us have never experienced before. But this post is about another divide, a technological one.

According to Zimbalist, marketers tend to be early adopters of technology. And he’s right – many of us were among the first to embrace smartphones, pioneer impeccably curated Netflix queues and drive social from dorm rooms to boardrooms. So, wouldn’t the people we market to be exactly the same? In some cases, yes, in many cases, no.

This is overtly apparent with linear TV. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard marketers talk about the death of traditional TV, or saw advertisers move spend from TV to digital. But TV is not dead – not even close! As marketers, it might not play as big a role in our lives as it once did, but it’s still a staple for most of our compatriots. Oh, and those companies that “left” TV for digital … well, they’re coming back in droves.

Let’s take an objective look at linear TV, and the role it plays in the lives of millions of Americans:

Most people still watch 4+ hours of TV a day – and that’s not changing anytime soon. Yes, the time is dropping, but not by much YoY.


Even marketers’ darlings – Millennials – watch 15+ hours of live TV a week. And that number only increases as they age and start families.


OTT/VOD services, like Netflix and Hulu, have certainly taken viewing time away from traditional TV. But consider the following: OTT already has a high rate of penetration among U.S. households (72% by 2019). In other words, video streaming is showing signs of market saturation – there’s not much room left to grow.

For marketers, linear TV offers 28 hours a week to reach the average American (and that number can get much higher depending on the demographic). To dismiss TV, when its influence is not fading fast, is a mistake – one realized by a slew of global advertisers who, due to digital-ad issues (fraud, blocking, fake news, etc.) and lackluster results, have come back to TV.

Not only does TV provide unrivaled reach for advertisers, but it acts as the epicenter of truly innovative and effective cross-channel media campaigns. With 87% of TV viewers watching with a second-screen device in hand, TV is proving to be an even more powerful marketing channel by not only driving offline activity, but online activity too, like app downloads, search and site traffic. It’s simply too valuable – and too relevant – to be relegated or dismissed.

In an interview with New York Magazine in 2014, Ira Glass said, “I read the newspaper, but I live in my own little bubble.” And while he wasn’t talking about marketers and TV (I will use any excuse to quote my public radio deity), his words are relevant to the topic at hand.

As marketers, it’s time to pop the bubble and use TV to make a real impact.