Can you really afford to leave TV out of your marketing mix?

Over the years, the marketing industry is still grappling to find an answer that depicts the future of TV advertising.

With all the noise that digital media is killing the traditional platforms, brands are quick to jump onto that crowded bandwagon, while shifting away from linear TV advertising.

It sounds like it makes sense, especially when there is a report card with clicks, views, likes and shares to make us look smart to the bosses. We can’t deny too that there are also others who feel the pressure of not wanting to be seen like an old maid trying to catch up with times. Naturally, digital becomes the way to go.

Perhaps, we may have overlooked a couple of fundamental principles of why people watch TV in the first place. It is the same reason that got us hooked on YouTube. It is the content that matters. If done well enough to drive simultaneous viewing, any content would have the ability to create an event that gives people something to talk about.

That is why TV still makes the most powerful medium to hit the mass and create strong emotional response. This ability comes from the years of expertise in developing and distributing engaging content for the audience. We know what’s a hit; and if it’s a hit, there will be viewers.

Don’t get me wrong though. We are not isolating TV as the sole channel to get to your consumers. In fact, every channel – be it TV, digital, print, radio or outdoor – should not exist in silos. However, the unique capability of TV amassing a huge audience simultaneously presents a strong case for brands to deliver content that is capable of capturing audience interest, and subsequently generating greater conversation across online and social media.

The approach is especially relevant in the context of Malaysia. Basically, the general population here does not only consist of the ones who are privileged. There is a bigger market out there – and this includes the makcik who sells pisang goreng in Temerloh, yet decides the best shampoo, toiletries, snacks and detergent for her family. Not forgetting, beauty products for herself too.

Take the Malay audience for example. The Malay market alone comprises 80% mass premium consumers living in the market centres, other urban, as well as rural areas. Their psychographic and buying behaviours may vary, but we can’t deny that each of them exhibit a varying degree of cross-platform media consumption – not just digital alone, but traditional channels including free-to-air TV, radio and newspaper.

A recent Nielsen study also validated that Malaysians still regard TV advertising as the top source of influence when buying new products (46%), coming second after word-of-mouth and ahead of in-store, internet and social media. Imagine leaving TV out of the equation, or not being able to effectively integrate your marketing channels, how much of that lucrative opportunity would have gone to waste?

In short, brands that adopt the TV-first approach, supported by a considerable amplification across digital and online media are proven to experience major impact on their business. Last year, Cadbury Malaysia relied heavily on TV channels to deliver their content as they addressed the nationwide halal crisis that affected the brand. With TV coverage from news to talk shows reaching approximately 13.6 million Malay viewers, the catastrophe was successfully contained and sales recovered to 50% by December 2014.

Nippon Paint implemented the Tolong Rumahku! campaign to give back to homeowners and convey their brand promise to rejuvenate the environment. A branded content on TV3 Deko Idaman was initiated to educate consumers on how to fix complications facing homeowners. A digital strategy was embedded to complement the campaign, which altogether earned the brand incremental sales of 181%.

These brands and the respective agencies won the Malaysian Media Awards this year. Both are well-deserved recognitions of the effective impact these campaigns had on specific business challenges with TV playing a major role. It is a testament of not just content as king, but distribution as the kingmaker.

To this end, the bottom line is that linear TV advertising will continue to be relevant in Malaysia. It just needs to continuously stay ahead of time, deliver content that touches people’s soul, and be creative in connecting brands with their audience through a set of cooperative platforms.

The writer is Ahmad Izham Omar, CEO of Television Networks, Media Prima Berhad.