Changing Viewing Habits Will Shape the Way Brands Allocate Marketing and Advertising Campaign Spending

While traditional live television advertising is still the best way to achieve broad reach, marketers are recognizing that TV advertising may not be the optimal way to engage with their customers in a post-COVID media landscape.

In recent years, cable cord-cutting and shifts to streaming services have contributed to traditional television’s decline. And even though television viewing increased in 2020 while many people were stuck at home, a recent study has shown that both live and streaming television viewing have dropped dramatically in 2021 – even compared to viewing levels reported pre-pandemic.[1]

At the same time that television viewing is declining, social media usage is increasing and competing effectively with traditional media. More than ninety-two percent of Americans spend time on social media each day.[1]

As media habits continue to evolve, brands are making adjustments to their media planning strategy and tactics. Although the bulk of advertising campaign spending is currently allocated to traditional linear television, the share of TV ad revenue is expected to drop in the future as digital ad spending increases. While brands are ramping up marketing spending for internet-delivered television, influencer marketing dollars are also expected to rise as younger generations indicate they prefer authentic brand promotion over disruptive branded advertising.

Older Generations Watch More TV While Younger Generations Prefer Other Forms of Entertainment

In 2021, two digital media trends surveys illustrated just how far the gap is between generations when it comes to watching television.

Nearly sixty percent of Baby Boomers watch more than ten hours of TV per week,[2] and thirty-nine percent of this generation considers TV and movie-watching a preferred activity.[3] 

But TV-watching is trending downward for members of younger generations. Only twenty-five percent of Millennials and seventeen percent of Gen Zers watch more than ten hours of TV each week.[2] 

In fact, TV-watching is a preferred form of entertainment for just eighteen percent of Millennials and ten percent of Gen Zers.[3] Video games, music, and social media all compete with television for Gen Z’s attention.[3]

Streaming Services are on the Rise as Cable TV Subscriptions Drop

The way people access TV is another sign of traditional television’s decline. Nearly half of all Baby Boomers subscribe to cable TV, but only nineteen percent of Millennials and twenty-five percent of Gen Zers watch TV on cable. Most members of the younger generations are using streaming services on a personal device when they decide they want to watch television.[2]

But all of the generations are starting to add streaming services as an option to watch their favorite shows, and cable “cord-cutting” is a growing trend. In 2010, 105 million households were hooked up to cable. In 2020, that number shrunk to 83 million, and by 2023, it’s expected to drop to just under 73 million.[2]

Younger Generations Don’t Trust Social Media Advertising 

Since fewer people are watching television and more are spending time on social media, advertisers are increasing their social media ad spending. From 2017 to 2021, ad spend for social media showed an average annual growth rate of nineteen percent.[4]

But social media advertising has a trust problem – particularly among younger users. Only about one-third of 18-34-year-olds who use social media say they trust the ads they see there.[5]

Distrust of social media advertising may be related to a more general distrust of brands. But it’s also likely that younger generations see social media platforms as a place to interact authentically with regular people and groups rather than be bombarded by branded content. 

Millennials and Gen Zers find social media ads disruptive, and they’d rather engage with social media influencers to get product recommendations on their own time. Influencers do not need to be social media stars or have millions of followers. In fact, a content creator with a lower follower count is often more persuasive.

Branded content is more of an annoyance for Gen Z than for Millennials. Thirty-seven percent of Millennials want to see real people talking about products, but a whopping eighty-seven percent of Gen Zers prefer more authentic types of promotion.[6] Gen Z has indicated its disdain for traditional advertising tactics, and eighty-four percent of them will skip or fast-forward through video ads. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Zers use ad blockers.[6]

Why Influencer Marketing May Be the Most Effective Way to Message Your Customers

Traditional television viewing may be declining but brands still consider it an effective way to achieve broad reach and brand awareness. Spending for traditional television advertising is projected to remain steady for the next few years.[7] 

But recent surveys have suggested that trust in brands is down and that people would rather get recommendations either from people they know or people they see as relatable.[8] Marketers looking for a way to improve the relationship between brands and customers will find that Influencer marketing can increase trust because it’s a more authentic approach to product promotion than TV advertising or brand-generated social media advertising.

Brands are finding success with influencer marketing because influencers are regular people whose interests match their followers. People who say they’d rather get product advice from someone like them are going to be more receptive to an influencer’s messaging versus branded content.

Social media influencers’ promotional messages are seen as organic, and since people willingly make the choice to follow these social media personalities, product recommendations are welcomed and not seen as intrusive. Influencer content leads to engaged audiences while ads are more likely to cause frustration and irritation.

When developing a marketing or advertising campaign, brands don’t need to make a stark choice between a TV ad campaign or an influencer marketing effort. The power of television may be declining, but it’s not going away. 

Brands that have previously hit awareness goals through television advertising  should continue to use it, and then work to create stronger customer relationships by adding influencer marketing to their promotional mix. If you don’t know how to get started, influencer marketing agencies can assist you with developing an influencer marketing strategy for every age group.