TV underrepresented in media budgets: Accenture study

Canadian advertisers are over-investing in flashy “long ball hitters” like search and social at the expense of reliable “get-on-base” media like TV, says a new study from Accenture Strategy.

The new study, The Moneyball Moment for Marketing in Canada, likens it to the baseball model espoused by Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane (popularized in the book and subsequent movie Moneyball), which favoured dependable everyday players over high-priced talent.

Accenture’s argument is that while both TV and digital contribute to wins (or in this case sales), advertisers are under-investing in TV and failing to take its “halo effect” on digital channels into account.

The study was commissioned by Thinktv, the organization tasked with promoting television as an advertising medium. “We know who sponsored the study,” said Craig Macdonald (picture above, right, with colleagues Brent Chaters, left, and Josef Herbik), managing director of communications and media and technology lead, North America for Accenture in Los Angeles. “[But] Accenture has tried to make this as objective as possible.”

According to Accenture, Canadian media investment is growing by an average of 2% a year, with much of the growth fuelled by double-digit increases in digital investment. That growth is coming at the expense of traditional media, including TV, which has experienced single-digit contraction during the same period.

Accenture has conducted four advertising effectiveness studies for U.S. broadcasters—three for ABC and another for NBCUniversal—over the past several years to understand what it describes as “dramatic shifts” in media allocation over the past decade.

The study’s findings are based on an analysis of Canadian sales data and more than $700 million in media spend for 105 brands spanning the telecommunications, automotive, CPG and over-the-counter pharmaceutical categories between January 2014 and June 2018.

Among Accenture’s conclusions:

  • Canadian companies can increase overall media investment

The Canadian companies tracked by Accenture are currently spending 1.7% of total revenues on media, compared with 3.1% for their U.S. counterparts.

“We’re under-investing in our marketing strategies and channels as a whole in Canada. Full stop,” said Chaters, managing director of Accenture’s digital customer and marketing practice.

However, Accenture also found that media investment in Canada generates approximately 20% of sales, compared with 19% for U.S. companies. Canadian companies are also seeing an approximately 10% greater ROI per dollar spent than their U.S. counterparts, said Macdonald.

  • Major brands are under-investing in TV in Canada

According to Accenture, Canadian companies in the four measured verticals are investing approximately 42% of their media budget in TV and 40% in digital. It says that the “optimal” amounts should be 47% and 37% respectively.

Automotive advertisers have the lowest investment in TV (28% of all media allocation) and the highest in digital (52%), while CPG has the highest investment in TV (61%), with 32% of its media budget is allocated to digital.

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Macdonald said that the 105 companies earned approximately $176 billion in annualized revenue in 2018, approximately $36 billion of which was directly attributable to media investment.

He said that simply shifting 5% of media investment to TV could have contributed an additional $1.4 billion in annual revenue across the 105 businesses.

  • TV has a material halo effect on digital media

Accenture said that every dollar spent on media in Canada generates approximately $11.79 in sales. The data shows an ROI of $11.63 for TV, $16.14 for display and other, $14.11 for paid search and $11.89 for paid social.

However, Accenture claims that the ROI values for digital channels are “misleading” because they fail to account for what Macdonald termed a “material” halo effect created by TV advertising.

“If I go and measure the ROI of a digital channel, a lot of that value is being created by the fact people had seen a TV ad somewhere else,” said Macdonald.

Accenture claims that digital advertising’s average ROI would decline by as much as 19% without TV’s halo effect, while noting that linear TV’s average ROI is understated by as much as 23%. According to Accenture, the ROI for the four digital channels—display and other, paid search, paid social and short-form video content—would decline by an average of 17.75% without that halo effect.

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  • Long-form video content offers “untapped value”

Accenture said that consumer consumption of long-form video content—defined as broadcaster-owner digital content that is more than 10 minutes in duration, with a separate ad load to a standard TV buy—grew by 20% a year between 2012 and 2017, while advertising investment grew by only 8%.

“Consumers are spending a lot of their time consuming long-form video content, but that time is not being met by an increase in advertising dollars,” said Macdonald, noting that Accenture does not see the same opportunity in the U.S.

Accenture said that the ROI for long-form video is two times greater than the average for digital, and higher than the ROI for short-form video. Consumers are willing to pay an “advertising tax” for good content, said Chaters. “Being associated with good solid content and production will ultimately drive consumer affinity.”


Chris Powell