The cost of airing a TV ad has become tremendously expensive, and the overall price tag is enough even to make marketers with hefty budgets wonder if that method of advertising is worthwhile.  

That's also true when airing advertisements during extremely popular televised events, such as the Winter Olympics.

Sources say AT&T and General Motors are two prolific brands expected to spend less on advertising during this year's event than the one in Sochi.

Plus, even the Super Bowl, which attracted 103.4 million viewers this year, earned ratings that were the lowest since 2009.

Considering Super Bowl ads usually require investments of at least several million dollars, it's not surprising marketers are looking at other promotional efforts besides TV spots.

People Are Paying for Television Less Frequently

An October 2017 survey from PwC highlights more bad news. It showed a 3 percent drop in the number of paid TV subscribers, compared to 2016 data.

Also, the number of people who are subscribing to fewer paid services is rising.

Redistributing the Marketing Budget Funds

Though TV is not as influential as it once was, other recent research indicates it still has value.

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted the American Time Use Survey, which found watching television is still Americans' top leisure activity, accounting for the way people age 15 and older spend just over half their available free time -- or 2.7 hours -- each day.

So, it's important for marketers to continue allocating part of their marketing budgets to television spots, instead of giving up on that type of advertising altogether. Furthermore, they should investigate other ways to reach their target audiences and devote more funds to those possibilities.

1. Engage in Personalized Audience Targeting

The online dating site eHarmony had regularly created marketing messages aimed at broad sections of its target audience.

However, after changing tack and making marketing efforts specific to a person's online journey, the brand noticed an obvious boost.

For example, by taking steps to understand certain needs and directly addressing them in their creative copy, the site saw an ROI of 20 to 30 percent.

2. Create a Second-Screen App

A study commissioned by Facebook that tracked the eye movements of people while they watched TV found 94 percent of viewers kept their smartphones with them while watching TV. Also, they only fixed their eyes on the television screens for 53 percent of the time.

Researchers call this phenomenon multi-screening, and it's a compelling reason for marketers to create a second-screen app for a mobile device that corresponds to the content on the larger screen.

Since many apps are designed to track information about their users' habits, a company could design an app to play targeted advertisements at the same time they appear on TV, increasing the chance of grabbing attention.

It could also make the app deliver enhanced content related to what's on the larger screen.

3. Use Social Media to Cater to People's TV Habits

When marketers do not have the resources to design dedicated second-screen apps for their needs, using the power of social media to get noticed is perhaps the next best thing.

To generate interest before show premieres, many TV representatives launch Twitter-based campaigns and invite fans to tweet their questions to stars or take part in giveaways.

Non-TV-based brands could also connect their products or services to a highly anticipated premiere or another televised event.

For example, a pizza brand that offers a delivery service could post several tweets encouraging people to order food on the night a popular show comes back on the air, saving them from having to cook and potentially disturbing their time in front of the television.

Analysts say the future of television marketing will be digitally driven. With that in mind, it's smart for marketers to explore how to move their campaigns in that direction.

Even so, television advertising still has a purpose, as evidenced by the number of people who choose to spend their downtime in front of TVs.

It's no longer feasible for marketers to assume people are solely focused on televisions as they watch, which is why these suggested strategies should pay off.

Published on: Feb 22, 2018