TV isn’t dead, it’s just different: why digital marketing agencies should be buying your TV ads

James Kenny

Head of Programmatic and Paid Social


Digital advertising spend first overtook television ad spend in 2016 and since then we have seen a steady increase in the former, and a steady decline in the latter. In typical marketing fashion, this has led to many proclaims that “TV is dead!”.


How we consume TV is undoubtedly different to five years ago, but the reality is people still watch TV. They just watch it in different ways.

Linear TV vs Connected TV


Historically, a viewer has watched a TV programme at a scheduled time, on a scheduled channel: this is known as linear TV.


Now, a TV programme might be watched on-demand or through a streaming service. TVs that have access to the internet and can load or stream digital content, either through a built-in connection, through smart devices like a Firestick or PlayStation, or through on-demand services like Netflix are known as connected TVs (CTV) – and this is where the future of TV advertising lies.


The content which is viewed on these different types of CTV is known as OTT, or over-the-top video. While OTT can be viewed on CTV, i.e. big screens with internet access, it is also consumed on smaller screens like mobile and tablet.

OTT and CTV are often used interchangeably but as you can see, there are subtle differences. This is discussed in further detail here if you want to read more about the two.


OTT combines the best parts of digital advertising – granular targeting options and advanced measurement – with the best parts of TV advertising – high impact brand awareness.

OTT advertising

Over-the-top ad inventory can be bought with the same tech that display ads are bought, which means it comes with the same targeting abilities, including being able to target by intent, income, demographic and age. Being able to narrow down your audience means reaching viewers who are more engaged and more likely to purchase from your brand at some point.


Advertisers can also track more in-depth metrics on OTT campaigns than linear TV ads, although click-throughs and conversions will only be tracked on devices that allow for clicks like laptops and tablets.


There are several advertising platforms that can be used to buy OTT ads, including Google’s premium display platform, Display & Video 360 (DV360). DV360 allows advertisers to negotiate deals directly with publishers, or to browse and buy inventory in their Marketplace module. Using DV360 to manage your OTT ads also means you can target or remarket to the same audiences that you target in your display campaigns, helping to push these audiences along to conversion.

YouTube TV

Many viewers are turning to connected TV devices to watch their favourite YouTube shows, with as much as 180 million hours of YouTube being watched on TV each day. As a result, in 2018 Google launched the TV screens device type to allow advertisers to target audiences while they watch YouTube on their TV. This makes it easier to create campaigns specifically for this purpose, whether that is by using a different creative or changing your bid adjustments.


In addition to reporting on these ads, Google has brought in brand lift studies for YouTube TV which makes it clearer for advertisers whether their YouTube TV ads have had a positive impact on brand awareness.

Buying linear TV ads online


Connected TV and OTT is on the up but that doesn’t mean linear TV should be abandoned completely. DV360 can be used to buy both connected and linear TV inventory, although this is currently only available in the US.


The Google platform has access to inventory from local TV stations and national broadcast networks through their partnership with WideOrbit, and while targeting isn’t as granular as with connected TV, advertisers can set up campaign parameters such as geography, programme genre and TV network to narrow down who they reach.


Due to how linear TV ads work, buying linear TV inventory through DV360 doesn’t grant access to the same in-depth metrics as CTV or other display and video campaigns. However, it does allow advertisers to streamline the media planning, buying and execution process as there is no need for network negotiations, which makes getting your brand on live TV a faster and more efficient process.

Times have changed, and while TV isn’t dead, the traditional way of buying TV ads certainly is dying. Using digital technology to buy OTT video advertising allows you to combine the power of TV advertising with the efficiency of digital advertising, creating stronger results.


Digital marketing agencies already have the skillset and experience needed to take your TV advertising to the next level, and taking your TV advertising to your digital marketing agency means you will also benefit from having greater consistency across TV and digital advertising.

Sign up to our latest online workshop to uncover how you can best preserve and enrich your data, gather valuable insights and utilise your first-party data to target your customers more effectively.


What you will learn:


  • How changes in privacy and cookie laws are impacting your analytics and ability to accurately track the customer journey
  • The effect this has on your ability to accurately track the performance of third-party advertising
  • How you can adapt your digital advertising and the tools you need to succeed in the post-cookie landscape

Need help with your advertising?Get in touch