Contrarian Survey Shows Advertisers Ditching Digital for TV

Television remote control

Emboldened by the improving economic picture, advertisers are buying media like it’s 1999 with an uptick in TV and radio at the expense of digital, according to a new survey.

Strata, a Chicago-based customized media management agency, polled 100 agency clients this month and found that TV is still the dominant medium — 44% of respondents said they are most focused on television above other media. That’s a 24% jump over the previous quarter. Digital was second with 21.1% while radio netted 15.6%, a 75% jump from the third quarter.

The figure for digital was actually down from 26% in 3Q, as agencies expressed disappointment with digital advertising’s efficacy. Dividing digital advertising preferences further, the survey found that display advertising, social media and search were most favored while mobile was a distant fourth. Meanwhile, 90% of respondents said their clients weren’t asking about iAds, Google TV or Apple TV.

“This was the first quarter we saw digital take a dip,” says J.D. Miller, director of marketing for Strata, who adds that mobile is drawing interest, but not dollars. “The buzz is there, but no one’s buying.”

The flight to analog media in the Strata survey came as 51% of respondents said they are seeing an uptick in business vs. a low of 22.5% in 2008. Nearly a quarter of respondents also said they would be hiring, up from 9% in 3Q.

The findings of the survey are at odds with other industry projections. For instance, eMarketer predicts a 10.5% increase in online spending next year followed by double-digit growth every year through 2014. Moreover, Strata’s data has trumpeted the continued staying power of TV before. A Strata survey for the first quarter of 2010 also showed a big increase in projected ad spending on TV.

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