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TV advertising vs YouTube advertising: Which is more effective?

Is TV still relevant? Does TV or YouTube have greater reach, more targeted audiences and better ROI?

Top voted answer
Beau Ushay

Beau Ushay, Owned Media & Marketing Specialist at

As William Siebler has alluded to above, get an understanding of who you're trying to reach first, before you embark down the path on where to spend your money.

Know your best customers, what motivates them and their decisions. Then get the right message into the right channel at the right time to make them a willing customer.

William Siebler

William Siebler, CEO at

Top 10% Marketing

Any form of advertising can be effective but it needs three things:

  1. Right audience.
  2. Right message.
  3. Right media (marketing platform).
For an ad to work you need to find out if your audience is paying attention in there.

Tom Valcanis

Tom Valcanis, Copywriter at

I would suppose it depends on which audience you are chasing - but TV viewership seems to be the province of the Boomer generation. YouTube ads are more targeted, and you can appeal to laser-focused demographics. YouTube advertising would be more cost-effective, too.

Reg Sorrell

Reg Sorrell, Video Producer at Online Videos Perth

TV definitely has a wider reach, but YouTube's is laser focussed. If your ideal prospect types in keywaords you want to be found for on YouTube, that is a lot more powerfult than randomly watching an ad on TV. Anyone younger than the Boomer generation watches less TV and more online content, so it you want to appeal to future customers, online is where it is at. As for ROI, I would put that in YouTube's camp as well as you can tweak your Google ads as more info comes to hand. TV does not have this ability.

Knowing who your customer is and where they hang out (on and offline) will help immensely when trying to reach them.

Aishah Mustapha

Aishah Mustapha, Content Marketer at

Top 10% Advertising Get quote

Yes, I agree with Tom. It depends a lot on who you are trying to reach out to.
TV still has a wider reach or higher penetration in Australia than YouTube but that number is slowly declining as the younger demographics between 18- 49 year olds are watching less and less. The over 50s are the ones who are propping up the numbers.
The younger target audiences are moving to video on demand services such as Stan, Netflix and online entertainment such as YouTube, social media, etc. Therefore, it’s not just YouTube that’s luring TV audiences away. Back in the days, tv stars were big but now, online and social media influencers are also shaping market trends and consumer demand.
At the end of 2018, YouTube has 15 million unique Australian visitors monthly, with a lot in the millennial generation. But TV still has the upper hand in terms of total viewership. Foxtel has about 2.8 million subscribers at the end of June 2018. TV ratings tend to peak for live sporting events such as footy, Olympics, cricket and the occasional blockbuster TV show episodes like MasterChef finale.
If you compare ads, YouTube ads are more customisable, has a lower minimum spend and better analytics than TV. But is it more effective? This study by Google says it generates better ROI than TV, but you have to take it with a grain of salt.
That being said, a lot of brands are using a mix of YouTube, TV and other type of ads to get the right conversion rate and effectiveness. For smaller businesses, YouTube at its current price point can be more attractive to start with.

Brad Lyons

Brad Lyons, Consultant at

Really depends on your target market. Youtube is the new age version version of "free to air TV". Apps like Stan, Netflix, Disney Plus and Prime really push a lot of people away from free to air.

Consumer demographics is a lot more than just age. A lot of people will tell you that Youtube and streaming apps are for the younger generation. However, you will find this is not the case. You will find people in their 70's are ditching free to air for Netflix and Stan etc. We don't watch free to air in our house, we have all the streaming apps and Youtube. We are in our 40's. Most of my friends are the same. I have friends and family members in their 70's that have done the same. A few recently built a house and didn't bother installing a TV antena, they simply didn't see the point. 

And when it comes to Youtube. Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world! Most people want to see a video and not read results, this includes all ages. So when someone for example wants to repair a wall, Youtube tends to be the place people go or end up with search results.

So don't think of Youtube as cat videos and silly stunt videos. Youtube has their own paid service, music streaming and lots of tutorials and good content. So Youtube has a very large reach.

And based on the response from the Australian authorities, I dare say Free to air has lost the race or very close to it. ACCC is wanting to create laws so they can get their claws on the streaming companies. Based on this article, it appears free to air isn't hitting the 55% transmitting rules.

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