65 years ago, the first TV ad for toys aired in the US: 45 seconds of advertising history that led to the sale of 100m Mr and Mrs Potato Heads.
That’s a lot of googly eyes that TV advertising can take the credit for, and one of the many historical accolades of it.
TV advertising has always worked, but we may just be starting to see the changing of the guard.
Children tend to stay the same, but the context in which they grow and the communications that they are exposed to have, of course, marched onwards. Today, according to Ofcom, children spend three hours per day interacting with digital content compared to 2.1 hours on TV.
That’s a 30 per cent decline in the last ten years. Furthermore, even when the children do sit down and watch TV content, the number of options they have to skip or fast-forward the ads are only increasing.
Traditionally, if your brand is anything to do with toys, stories or characters, and if your target audience is children - your most effective form of marketing would be TV content.
If you are good enough and lucky enough to have a running on CBeebies, you’d have the best advertising you could ask for and the endorsement of Aunti Beeb would have been enough to fill the order book.
But with the success of the Kids iPlayer and the expected further investment into digital platforms by the BBC, this may not be enough going forward. If the BBC is investing so ostensibly to play catch up with the SVOD providers, then there’s only one direction of travel for TV advertising and it’s not a traditional 30-second slot.
Digital advertising has to be our focus, the area where children are increasingly spending time, but it
is also one that is extremely fragmented: multiple micro-audiences that need bespoke content and bespoke management, and return on investment that can often be slow-burning rather than delivering an instant boost the way a TV advert used to.
Digital advertising isn’t free of course, but that is often forgotten when measuring it ROI. We cannot expect TV-style reach form digital channels while spending less than one tenth of the budget.
And don’t think for a minute that Google, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon et al aren’t sitting in their lair, stroking their white cats watching a thousand algorithms plot the acquisition of all that lovely TV lolly.
They are, and I would wager they’ll have this wrapped and under the Christmas tree in the time it takes for the latest toy craze to rise and fall.