TV Advertising Vs Internet Advertising – Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget

Advertising is an interesting entity. On the one hand, it is evolving all the time. As new mediums for communication and broadcasting arise, one of the first players on the scene is always advertisers.

Yet, on the other hand, advertising doesn’t change very much. Take for example, television advertising. The first ever TV ad ran all the way back in 1941 and since that year, TV has remained one of the most potent media for advertisers.

Television and the internet are perfect personifications of the interesting dichotomy of advertising. In some cases (TV), it doesn’t change very much but in others(internet), it adapts and morphs so rapidly that it’s hard to keep track of.

This presents an interesting dilemma for advertisers as well: where are your advertising dollars best spent? The answer to that question is almost always subjective. It will depend on the nature of your business and your ad.

In the following article, we are going to be talking about the important points of both internet and TV advertising to help you get a better idea of which one is best for your particular advertising needs.


The Illustrious History of TV Advertising

One of the most alluring aspects of TV for advertisers is that TV and advertising have a long, storied relationship. As we mentioned, the first TV ad ran in 1941 when the Bulova watch company ran a 10 second commercial during a Dodgers game.

Back then, the spot only costed $9. Now, the average cost of running a 30 second, nationally televised TV ad costs an average of $104,000. The staggering rise in costs for advertising on TV is perhaps the strongest testament to the effectiveness of the medium.

TV airtime has been at a premium in all eras. In 1940, Bulova’s ad reached 4,000 viewers; an unheard of number in advertising at the time. Today, a single TV ad can reach 89 percent of the population.

Since the 40’s, TV ads have become wildly popular and successful. This trend has carried through to 2020 as well.


Internet Advertising: The Advertising Rookie of the Year

Internet advertising was pretty much a success from the very beginning. The first known internet Ad was placed by AT&T back in 1994. It was a banner ad that garnered a 44% click-through rate.

They paid $30,000 for it which is a steal considering the fact that banner ads typically garner a 0.5% click-through rate these days.

The success of this one ad elicited a boon in internet advertising and in response to it, the Internet Advertising Council was founded.

That first ad was just a banner ad. As the years went by, the nature of internet ads became more varied and versatile as exemplified in video format here. As internet usage became more dynamic, so too did the ads that ran on it.

Today, the internet is one of the most powerful mediums for advertising. In 2019 alone, $333 billion dollars were spent on internet advertising.




Avg. Ad Cost
$104k (20-30 second national ad)
$10k per month (using Google)
Avg. Reach
119.9 million
4.5 billion
Avg. Time Spent on Media
5 hours (daily)
6 hours (daily)


Internet Advertising: The New Juggernaut?

Looking at the table above, a couple of things stand out. One, there are more internet users than people who regularly watch TV and two, internet advertising is on average cheaper than TV ads.

That would suggest that internet advertising is a no-brainer for people trying to decide between the two, right? Not necessarily.

One of the major reasons why internet advertising is cheaper is because the internet is a nearly infinite space as opposed to the limited programming of Television. That means the internet can be saturated with ads – and it is.

Internet ads can be less effective because there are a ton of them out there and internet browsers tend to shut a lot of them out. Pop-up ads, for instance, are notorious for irking browsers and rendering them unreceptive to the message.

In fact, 73% of consumers report disliking pop-up ads – one of the most prevalent types of ads on the internet.


  • Target Comparison – TV ads reach 89% of their target markets while internet ads reach 87%
  • Cost Comparison – Nationally run TV ads are significantly more expensive than internet ads
  • Measurability Comparison – Internet advertising is far easier to measure with tracking code on your website


The Versatility of Internet Ads

So far, it seems like TV and internet ads are pretty even in terms of pros and cons. Reach is generally the same and it’s hard to measure the success of both. Internet ads cost less, but they perform in a more saturated market.

But one distinct advantage that internet advertising has over TV advertising is it’s versatility. There are many different kinds of internet ads including but not limited to:

Display Ads

Ads that appear on websites as you browse around. You will see these in the header, the sidebar, the footer and in the content.

You may be eerily surprised that the Ads showing up on the New York Times website is the company you have been shopping recently but have yet to make a purchase.

This happens because of Remarketing. When you visit a website, they place a cookie on your browser and use it to show you Display Ads around the web.

The website where you see the Ads get’s paid by Google Adsense, so everybody is a winner, even if they can be annoying sometimes.


Search Ads Or Pay Per Click

Search ads are strategically placed on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) that are related to the search query (i.e. Google Ads).

The beauty of these Ads is that there is no waste. You only show your Ads to someone who is actively searching for your goods and services.

Say someone types, ‘Buy Garden Sheds’ into google, you can show at the very top of the first page for a small fee to Google and have the first shot at converting this lead.

Once they visit your site, you can remarket to them and hopefully earn a huge return on investment by running the Ads.


Social Media Ads

This type of can be purchased and displayed on various social media networking platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram)

Facebook Ads for example work by interrupting the user of the platform with something that they want, bringing them over to your website and transitioning them into buying mode quickly to get the sale.

It is also brings them into your funnel for remarketing to increase your chance of converting.


YouTube Ads

Video formatted ad space that can be purchased to display before, during or after YouTube videos.

Youtube Ads are create to show yourself or your product on camera and Youtube is one of the very best places to establish trust an credibility quickly.

Youtube can be used to target new customers or remarket to anyone who visits your website.

Youtube Advertising is extremely effective and it is much cheaper than Tv Advertising as well.


TV Ad Pros & Cons


  • Cinematics – TV ads offer more opportunities for cinematic grandeur
  • Culture – TV advertising has more of it’s own culture in which people remember popular commercials and even have their own favorite commercials
  • Captive Audience – TV ads have more opportunity to reach a captive audience watching their favorite TV show as opposed to idly browsing the internet


  • Expense – TV advertising is typically more expensive than internet advertising
  • DVR – With DVR, people can skip through TV ads
  • Streaming – Streaming services are becoming more popular than TV


Internet Ad Pros & Cons


  • Expense – They are more affordable
  • Versatility – You can choose from a number of different kinds of internet ads
  • Reach – On paper, there are more internet users that TV watchers



  • Saturation – The internet represents a more saturated market in terms of advertising
  • Annoyance – Many people view internet ads as a nuisance
  • Ad Blockers – Ad blockers can render your advertisement nearly useless


Which One Deserves your Dollars?

One of the biggest drawbacks of TV advertising is the cost. But this can be negated to some degree. For instance, if you want to run a local ad on TV, the cost may be as little as 5$ per thousand viewers.

This makes TV an effective advertising medium for businesses with a local intent. So if you are a local contractor, bail bondsman, dentist or any other business owner that does not intend to render your services nation-wide, TV offers great opportunity for growth of brand recognition.

On the other hand, if you do want to reach the national market, internet marketing would probably be the way to go.

Pay per click ads can be very effective for a company with national reach as they allow ads to be seen by more potential leads as opposed to a bunch of people who have no interest in the product or service.

And that is just one way to go. Organic SEO can also be very effective for a company that is based in one place but sends their products all over the nation.

Some good examples of businesses that would benefit from TV advertising include:

  • National Conglomerates
  • Local contractors
  • Medical organizations
  • Car dealerships
  • Regional restaurants and retail shops


Examples of businesses that would benefit from internet advertising include:

  • Small retailers
  • Virtual consultation services
  • Craft product vendors
  • Publishing services
  • Solopreneurs
  • E-Commerce Gurus
  • Online Coaches


Also, a big factor that will determine which media is better for you will be your ROI. Carefully calculate your return on investment based on original price of your ad, increase in lead generation and increase in sales conversion.


Last Words on the Matter

There are a lot of variables when it comes to both forms of advertising. For instance, broadcasting your commercial with a local affiliate airing a nationally televised show will cost more money but help you reach a much wider local audience.

Pay per click ads are quick, easy and garner almost immediate results but you have to carefully monitor how many clicks are actually resulting in sales.

In the end, both mediums have their fair share of pros and cons. Your decision should be based on careful ROI calculation and honest consideration of the nature of your business and your goals for it.

Due diligence after your selection is also a must – monitoring the performance of your ads and the price to run them Vs. the amount of new leads/sales you are getting. It’s a tough line to walk but with a little research and shrewd budgeting, you will be able to find the perfect platform for your needs.