Q: Which Advertising Channel, Facebook or TV? A: Friend Request Pending...

06/09/2013 11:48 BST | Updated 04/11/2013 10:12 GMT

On Thursday 12th September, advertising and insight professionals will gather at the Advertising Research Conference in London to discuss an array of advertising issues ranging from the role of big data to the rise of the tablet. One of the items on the agenda will be the role of the social network Facebook in advertising, namely how it compares to TV as an advertising tool.

At the end of 2012, TV was responsible for 63% of global advertising spend. However, Facebook's advertising revenues have increased 678% since 2009 - showing it clearly has traction with advertisers, with reports suggesting the budget for Facebook advertising is being taken from TV budgets. But how has Facebook done this and what does the future hold for the balance of Facebook vs. TV advertising?

Do you 'block' your TV from coming on holiday with you?

The increasing prominence of mobile in the advertising agenda has given Facebook a significant advantage over the small screen. At the start of 2013 Facebook predicted that there were 604 million users of Facebook mobile. Yes - mobile TV apps are available but due to several factors - including limited screen size and slow data connections - these do not have the usability of Facebook 'on-the-move'. This is amplified as TV products continue to grow in size and image quality, setting the expectations of these parameters at a level far higher than a mobile device can currently offer.

Do you visit your audience's 'timeline'?

Facebook's advertising trump card is the vast amount of information they know about their audience, gained through self-reported data and Facebook activity. This allows advertising to be extremely targeted, allowing brands to have more focussed campaigns based on data from an individual's Facebook page. Conversely, TV channels tend to be focussed on a broader demographic/attitudinal profile, so targeting - whilst gaining demographic and attitudinal reach - often lacks the focus Facebook offers. That being said, audience research groups are now looking at social media updates made during TV programs to garner greater audience insight - allowing progress in this area, but lacking 'Facebook level' depth.

Do you 'like' daytime TV?

For the typical consumer, TV viewing times are limited to evenings and weekends, when they can fully engross themselves in it. Facebook - with its immediate availability through several devices - can be accessed quickly, and often at numerous points throughout the day. Therefore, whilst TV may garner more consumer focus during engagement, Facebook trumps it in terms of engagement frequency.

What will happen when Facebook 'add' their next innovation?

Up until this point the motion content provided by TV has long been its key attraction to advertisers. However, as of this autumn Facebook looks to enter the area of video advertising with short 15 second or less advertising video clips. Whilst this may not allow for the depth of the typically 30 second long TV advert, it may generate more focussed, impactful and intelligent adverts in a similar way to how Twitter and Vine have inspired punchier, more to-the-point content.

What's the 'status' of Facebook advertising in relation TV?

Facebook has clearly come to the fore as a highly useful advertising outlet for brands, essentially offering a mobile, targeted advertising channel with a vast audience with high visiting frequency. Further, its advertising offer appears to be well moulded to fit into some current, popular innovations - mobile and condensed content.

So what does this mean for TV advertising?

TV - despite its high cost and poor daytime engagement - still holds many strengths for advertisers. The ability to show lengthy (in advertising terms), motion based adverts in - given the continuing improvements in TV products - in-home cinematic quality, allows brands to communicate in a way no other medium allows. Further, adverts are now an expected part of television viewing, whereas concerns over excess Facebook adverts have been voiced by Mark Zuckerberg himself.

Facebook and TV - 'friend request' pending....

Clearly Facebook and TV both offer unique advantages for advertisers - many of which complement each other very well. Facebook's frequent engagement vs. TV's focussed engagement, Facebook's mobility vs. TV's comparative big screen ability to name but a couple. This suggests that the two mediums can work extremely well together going forward. Therefore, expect to see more brands combining the two in future campaigns. Facebook and TV may not be friends yet, but the request has definitely been sent.

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