Digital Marketers Should Not Act As If TV Doesn’t Exist (There’s An Elephant in the Room)

A lot of digital media analysis is very compartmentalized, meaning that the effectiveness of social media focuses exclusively on direct measures of social media and measures of desired outcomes. I think this is very risky. By not including causal variables like spending in adjacent marketing channels (in this case search, email, and display) or nearly ubiquitous channels (TV), you run the risk of confusing the effects of your efforts with the impact of exogenous factors you do not control.

Let’s say you are analyzing the digital marketing efforts for a client that invests heavily in websites, display advertising, paid search, SEO, email, and social media. Let’s say they are also big spenders in traditional media, like TV for instance. Analyzing the effectiveness of your online efforts without have some measure of tv spending or exposure in your mix of causal variables is a bit like trying to say never mind the sun, your flashlight caused the day to begin. That’s an exaggeration, but take a look at the average weekly usage numbers from the Q4 2009 edition of the Nielsen Three-Screen Report (

People watch their TVs nearly nine times longer per week than they use the internet. Also, TVs reach more households than the internet. I’m not saying every analysis needs to be a marketing mix analysis, but you don’t want to do a sailing analysis without looking at wind as a causal variable. If I think of any more dumb metaphors, I’ll add them as comments.

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