The Most Hyped Advertising Medium Is The World’s Third Smallest

EU Media Futures Forum pic_0

Based on what you’ve been seeing, hearing and reading lately, what would you say is the world’s biggest advertising medium? If you said, “the internet,” you’d be very, very wrong, according to a November 8 MediaPost research brief.

Measured by actual spending, the internet is the world’s third-smallest advertising medium, beating out outdoor and cinema advertising for last place, as of June of this year.


The world’s biggest advertising media are two that popular perception is writing off as dying or dead – television and newspapers.

“Global TV ad expenditures grew 4.2 percent on a year-over-year basis for the first half of 2013, accounting for 57.6 percent of total ad spend[ing],” MediaPost reported. This makes television the world leader.

Newspapers and magazines were somewhat distant second and third, with 18.9 and 10 percent respectively.

Only after radio (5.4 percent) does the internet show up (4.3), edging out outdoor (3.5 ) and cinema (0.3) for last place.

The cost factor

In all fairness, it should be noted that one reason advertisers spend more on television is that it costs more, and one reason they spend less on the internet is that advertising there costs less.

Internet advertising, after all, has nothing like $4 million Super Bowl  30-second commercials – at least not yet.

And television has nothing like free or low-cost social media, sponsored links and behaviorally targeted banner ads – though from a cost standpoint, cable remnant time, which advertisers can buy for as little as $5 per :30 in many medium-size markets, comes close.

Among the three media where advertising expenditures grew from second quarter 2012 to 2013 – television (up 4.2 percent), outdoor (+5 percent) and internet (+26.6 percent) – internet advertising grew the most.

But that’s a higher percentage of a much smaller base. Though the Nielsen figures MediaPost quoted didn’t get into actual dollar amounts, it’s entirely possible that television’s 4.2 percent increase is more in absolute dollars than the internet’s base plus its 26.6 percent increase combined.

The trust factor

To Randall Beard, global head of advertiser solutions at Nielsen, there’s another factor at work – a trust factor. In his opinion, the 57 cents of every ad dollar spent on television is

a worthy investment considering that global consumers reportedly trust TV over all other paid media channels.

In other words, it’s not just cost per exposure, but trust per exposure that matters.

Advertisers have more reason to trust television advertising as well. Over the decades, the industry has developed many research techniques (some better than others) for measuring television advertising’s effectiveness.

Internet advertising’s a different story. As noted here,

82 percent [of internet advertisers] have concerns about whether they’re reaching their customers, 77 percent about proving their campaigns’ effectiveness and 79 percent about even understanding whether or not their campaigns are working.

…60 percent don’t think that their marketing’s effective and a whopping 81 percent don’t strongly agree with the statement, “I know our digital marketing is working.”

So don’t be too hasty to write off television and print advertising because it’s more expensive and embrace the internet just because it’s cheap. You could end up getting exactly what you pay for.


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