Web Commercials Vs. Television Commercials - What Makes Them Fundamentally Different & Which Format Is Best For Your Business

One of the most common issues that business owners and marketing professionals face when creating commercial content is deciding which medium it would be most suitable for - Television or web.

While major corporations that are working with large agencies will typically have an abundance of content on both mediums, small and medium sized businesses don't usually have that luxury, and often need to choose between producing a 30 second commercial that is intended to air on TV, or producing a longer format spot that can be used online. 

One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make when struggling with this decision, is to produce a single commercial spot that they will use both on television and online. There's absolutely nothing wrong with showcasing a television commercial on a company YouTube or Vimeo account as supplementary content, but as part of an overall marketing strategy you can't expect to get great results online by taking this approach. The reasoning behind this is two fold: Audience behavior can be vastly different on TV and web, and differences in the mediums call for variances in the creative approach.

Most often, commercials that are aired on television are all about brand recognition. The idea is to expose the viewer multiple times to the same engaging commercial content and connect with them on a fundamental level so that the brand name, logo, and jingle stick with them well after they have turned off their television set. On the other hand, web commercials are often only viewed once by target customers, since they are typically found as the result of a google or YouTube search, and as such all of the creative parameters change drastically. Most web commercials have more immediacy to their messaging than television commercials do, as the idea is to get the viewer clicking over to the company site/shopping cart as quickly as possible. Conversely, television commercials (as we touched on above) are more about creating brand familiarity and recognition and are less concerned with the call to action sequence. There are exceptions to this rule of course, such as infomercial style, direct to consumer products that often focus heavily on a hard sell/CTA sequence, but the vast majority of television commercials today currently perform better with a more subtle approach. 

When businesses attempt to use the same commercial content on both television and web, the length and timing of the spots becomes a very obvious problem. Television commercials are most often aired as :15s or :30s spots, which are not ideal timeframes for a web commercial, which normally would benefit from a longer format (1:30 - 2:00), for a number of reasons. Yes, it is possible to buy television commercial slots that are longer in length (1 or 2 minutes), but these are extremely expensive, and going this route will mean that you will need to air your commercial far fewer times (for the same media budget) as opposed to airing your shorter spot more frequently. Even if money isn't a factor though, and your company can afford to buy the extra air time, there is still the fundamental issue concerning the huge variance in audience between the two mediums, which makes sharing the same content across both platforms an ineffective strategy.

What Do We Recommend?

Every client's needs are different. For some clients we have strategized a campaign consisting of both television and web content (different spots of course), but more often than not we choose one or the other. Certain businesses that have a big e-commerce component to their sales model might benefit more from a web commercial, while others that sell products or services primarily through retail outlets might benefit more from a television campaign. It's also quite common to start off by producing a web commercial initially, and based on it's performance, re-edit the existing footage into a television commercial, which can create a best of both worlds situation by keeping costs low for our clients. 

If you are considering having a commercial produced and are unsure of the format and usage that would best suit your business or brand, be sure to get in touch with us. We have a deep understanding of both mediums and have successfully run campaigns for our clients on both television and online. Be sure to e-mail us at info@creativerebellion.com for more info.

The Creative Rebellion Team.