How Could Digital Marketing Enrich Traditional Television Advertising?

Sam Rose - Head of Content

Sam Rose

17th April 2019

Our televisions are not what they used to be. Since their beginnings as mechanical televisions in the early 1900s, TVs have changed dramatically, offering more convenient programming and high quality images than ever before. Let’s take a look at how far have they come:


A Brief(ish) History of Television in the UK

  • 1906: Boris Rosing produces first mechanical television system
  • 1923: Vladimir Zworkin patents television camera tube system
  • 1928: John Logie Baird transmits television pictures across the Atlantic
  • 1929: Baird begins regular experimental broadcasts, with sound and vision are transmitted alternately for two minutes at a time
  • 1930: Simultaneous sound-and-vision 30-line television transmissions are made possible
  • 1931: First television outside broadcast
  • 1934: EMI demonstrates an electronic television camera
  • 1936: BBC Television begins broadcasting regular high-definition programmes from Alexandra Palace to the London area
  • 1937: The Coronation of King George VI is the first major electronic television outside broadcast, with 9,000 TV sets sold in the London area
  • 1949: BBC TV Midlands transmitter opens
  • 1950: First live link from the continent (Calais to London)
  • 1955: Commercial television (ITV) starts broadcasting in the London area
  • 1955: BBC TV Northern Ireland transmitter opens - 95% of the UK can now receive BBC television
  • 1958: Videotape recording starts in Britain
  • 1962: First transatlantic satellite link via Telstar
  • 1964: First live link from Japan via Telstar II
  • 1964: BBC2 opens with episode of Play School
  • 1965: First trans-Atlantic satellite television transmission from the USA
  • 1966: The Phase Alternating Line (PAL) colour television system is officially adopted for the UK
  • 1967: Regular colour transmissions begin on BBC2
  • 1969: Regular colour transmissions begin on BBC1 and ITV
  • 1969: First live television pictures of men on the moon
  • 1982: Channel 4 begins broadcasting
  • 1989: Launch of Sky
  • 1997: Channel 5 begins broadcasting
  • 1998: BSkyB begins digital TV transmissions from a new generation of satellites as Sky Digital
  • 2001: Sky+ personal video recorder (PVR) is launched, allowing viewers to record, pause and instantly rewind live TV
  • 2002: Freeview is launched
  • 2006: The BBC begins broadcasting in high-definition (HDTV) on their new subscription channel BBC HD
  • 2006: Sky adds remote recording to Sky+, enabling viewers to set programmes to record while away from home via mobile phones
  • 2007: The gradual switch-off of all analogue terrestrial TV broadcasts begins
  • 2007: BBC iPlayer is launched
  • 2008: The Freesat satellite service starts, including the first non-subscription HDTV channels
  • 2008: Samsung Smart TV is launched
  • 2010: Sky launches Europe’s first stereoscopic (3DTV) television channel
  • 2011: Product placement is permitted on UK television
  • 2012: Netflix is launched in the UK
  • 2013: The British Audience Research Board (BARB) announces it will include online viewing through catch-up services in its official viewing figures
  • 2015: Launch of BT Sports Ultra HD, the first 4K Ultra HD channel in the UK
  • 2016: BBC Three becomes online-only
  • 2016: A TV Licence becomes a requirement for watching BBC iPlayer online


This interesting graph from Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) shows the increase of viewing percentage share for catch up TV, and the decline in live TV viewing numbers between 2006 and 2019. The gap is slowly closing between the two, and if the trend continues at this rate, time-shifted viewing will overtake live television viewing in popularity by around 2052. While this is still over thirty years away and sounds like a very long time, it would be a remarkable milestone to reach, and it may even mean the end of live television as we know it.

In fact, there have been so many developments in the world of television since its conception, that it is quite difficult summarise its history. The question is, where will it go next – and what will it mean for marketers? What will television advertising look like in the future?


Moving to Digital Advertising Using User Data

With research in the US showing that digital advertising surpassed television ad spend for the first time in 2017, the benefits of digital advertising are well-known. While television advertising reaches a huge number of people and has a strong impact on viewers due to the use of audio and video, it comes with a high cost and falls under the category of push marketing, showing customers a product they may not necessarily want. Digital marketing, on the other hand, makes great use of less intrusive pull marketing, showing customers products they have already searched for or looked at, and drawing people in because they were already interested. Digital marketing is more cost-effective and enables advertisers to market towards audiences who are more likely to make a purchase, because in many cases they have already shown their interest.

Now, imagine if you could bring that power of digital marketing to television –through Google, for example. In fact, Google did release the Google TV in 2010, but it was discontinued in 2014. This was replaced by Android TV, a set top box and smart TV platform used by tens of millions of consumers, mainly in Europe and Asia. Android TV can be used to access streaming services such as Netflix and catch up TV such as BBC iPlayer, as well as play music and games, and use apps. But what if Google’s TV efforts could do more for marketers?

Imagine if as an advertiser, you could leverage information such as a user’s search and browsing history, paired with their television viewing history, to target more specific audiences than you could with traditional television advertising. The rise of internet TV could lead to more personalised advertising, showing viewers not only products based on the programme they are currently watching, but what they have previously watched and what they do on their computers and mobile devices. This could be video advertising between programming, or display advertising units which appear among the television show lists while browsing. This could open up a whole new range of remarketing opportunities for PPC advertisers within the Google network.


Ramping Up Product Placement Advertising

Or what if product placement could be taken to a whole new level? A little like the Instagram shopping adverts, where a product appears in the picture and it is then possible for the user to click through and buy it. Or what if programmes were sponsored by products which appeared in them, and at the end of the show, among the credits there was a list of products which were shown, and details of how to purchase them. This could be great for product review programmes such as The Gadget Show, but could also work for programmes such as soaps, which could advise on the clothes the cast were wearing and where the products can be found (usually you would have to go to a website such as Soap Style for this kind of information). Perhaps being able to press the red button, or some other functionality, throughout the show, would pause the programme and show you all the details for products currently seen on screen.


All of this isn’t to say that television commercials might one day disappear. These are just a couple of ideas for ways in which television advertising could grow to become more like digital marketing in the future – perhaps alongside traditional television ads. It will be exciting to see how this technology develops over the coming years. In the meantime, if you would like any help with your digital marketing strategy, get in touch with SilverDisc.

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