Television has been called many things, and in the past several years, one of those things is 'dead'. But when it comes to advertising, television is still alive and kicking, and according to a new survey from media management software vendor STRATA, it's television advertising, not digital advertising, that will benefit most from economic recovery.

Of the major advertising firms polled as part of STRATA's 4th Quarter Agency Survey, the greatest percentage (44%) said that their clients were focused most on television, a 24% rise over the previous quarter. Digital trailed significantly, with 21.1% reporting the internet to be their clients' medium of choice.

According to STRATA CEO John Shelton, major advertisers are feeling comfortable enough to boost their television advertising spend despite the high costs because "agencies view TV as having the greatest impact." That might be surprising to some in the digital arena, but according to STRATA's survey, ad firms face numerous challenges with digital.

The largest: "the lack of channel effectiveness." Ironically, a lot of that may have something to do with the digital channels advertisers are most attracted to. According to STRATA, social media is one of the most popular channels, and within it, a whopping 79% of the agencies surveyed indicate that they'll focus their social media investment on Facebook.

Another popular social hub, Twitter, is the second investment of choice for agencies this year. But despite the popularity of and potential offered by Facebook and Twitter, it's questionable whether advertisers looking to drive ROI should be so focused on two platforms that haven't exactly proven they're capable of consistently delivering it, at least easily.

From this perspective, it seems that STRATA's 4th Quarter Agency Survey confirms what we already know: that agencies are creatures of comfort. When the economy isn't on life support, television advertising is as comfortable a medium as they come.

Buying television ads is a familiar process and it's easy to justify. After all, who has ever been fired for buying a television ad? Digital, on the other hand, has grown rapidly, but it's not nearly as comfortable. New channels and platforms are emerging all the time, picking the ones can be difficult, and cross-channel measurement still seems more like art that science in many cases. So it's not surprising that a rising economic tide is lifting most the yacht that is television advertising.

But savvy advertisers and agencies will recognize that it's not a zero-sum game. If the economy is truly on the mend, those who capitalize the most will be the ones who put all mediums, including television and digital, together and create integrated campaigns that perform better than the sum of their parts.

Patricio Robles

Published 20 January, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (4)


Suraj Atreya, MBA - Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School

I am surprised that agency people are so caught up in the digital vs TV puzzle.

Its common sense that the right level of integration is needed.  

The more fundamental question is: Interruption vs Permission

How can we minimize interruption and maximize permission across channels increasing the customer lifetime value for an optimum ROI.

over 7 years ago



I agree with Suraj in some sense in that we should try to move away from digital vs TV media because they are completely different advertising channels in some situations and complementary channels in other situations. It all depends on your budget and target market. One can get a high or low ROI in any media, it all depends on their ads and their strategy.

over 7 years ago


Suraj Atreya, MBA - Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School

First of all, this survey is absolutely inappropriate as it takes opinion of only ad agencies.

It is quite obvious that ad agencies will always support TV and buying expensive media space (where bulk of the revenue comes from).

I would like to see the survey redone with only client side marketers. This would give a realistic insight.

over 7 years ago


Suraj Atreya, MBA - Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School

Survey which perhaps speaks the 'truth'!!!

Digital Ad Spend to Climb 14%, Social Media 35%

About the data: Findings are from Winterberry's report titled Outlook 2011: What to Expect in Direct & Digital Marketing, based on Winterberry Group analysis issued in January 2011. 

over 7 years ago

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