Social Outperforms TV, But When the Two Combine: Marketing Magic Happens

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

We previously shared why social is often a better bang for your buck than TV, but for brands still not sold on shifting budgets from TV to digital marketing, we recommend at least using social to support your TV campaigns. And the data agrees.

First, let’s look at the way media consumption is changing. Emarketer reports that the average time US adults spend per day on mobile devices is increasing, while time spent watching TV is steadily decreasing. According to Adweek, “Viewership is moving away from linear television to go further online.”

Social platforms are largely responsible for the shift in mobile media consumption. As these platforms become more expansive and the content on them becomes more hyper-targeted, users are spending more time on social channels than ever before. Data from Global Web Index shows that “internet users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms.”

According to Adweek, 87% of millennials have their smartphones on them at all times, and 92% use other devices while watching TV. “Audiences no longer have the attention span to sit through commercials and absorb information,” writes Adweek. “Audience attention is on social channels, which means that brands need to be there too.”

While these studies demonstrate that TV viewership is declining, it still has wide reach that’s attractive to brands. To get the best of both worlds, advertisers should activate cross-platform marketing initiatives spanning both TV and social.

To put that idea to the test, we combined TV and social amplification for an insurance company that wanted to reach as many people as possible. Our goal was to use Nielsen research to show the value of Facebook in driving awareness and reaching a broad audience at scale. We also wanted to execute social-first creative that complemented the TV messaging. We predicted that people who saw messaging across both TV and Facebook would have higher brand awareness than either channel independently.

And that’s exactly what happened. The research showed that Facebook was more successful in reaching the target audience efficiently, delivering 63% more incremental reach compared to TV for one of the targeted interest groups.

In the other, more broad targeting group, Facebook still had a 12% increase in incremental reach over TV. Facebook was also 3x more cost-efficient than TV at reaching its audiences, and was successful at building brand lift. Ad recall scores for were 38 points higher for Facebook than TV alone, and they were 61 points higher for TV and Facebook combined. Combining TV and Facebook also showed increases in top-of-mind awareness (+13 points) and favorability (+23 points).

If those findings aren’t enough to show you the value of combining social with TV advertising, a Facebook study using Nielsen research found the same result. “The combination of TV and Facebook delivered significantly higher brand lift results than either of these channels on their own.” When in doubt, go for both.