Comparing Broadcast Television Media Buying and Streaming Media Buying: Pros and Cons

In the past decade, the way we consume media has drastically changed. With the rise of digital media and streaming services, traditional broadcast television has taken a back seat in terms of advertising opportunities. As a result, media buying strategies have had to evolve to keep up with these changes. In this article, we’ll explore how dirt media buying for the modern age compares to a decade ago with broadcast television vs streaming ads today.

What is Dirt Media Buying?

Firstly, let’s define what dirt media buying is. Essentially, dirt media buying refers to the process of purchasing ad space in bulk at discounted rates. This can be done through various channels such as TV, radio, print, and digital media. This approach allows advertisers to reach a wider audience at a lower cost.

A Decade Ago: Broadcast Television

A decade ago, broadcast television was the primary medium for advertising. Advertisers would purchase airtime during specific programming slots and target specific demographics. The effectiveness of these ads was measured by ratings and viewership data, which could be used to determine the reach of an ad campaign.

However, there were limitations to this approach. Broadcast television advertising was expensive, and often only accessible to larger brands with bigger budgets. Furthermore, viewership was declining, as people started to consume media in new ways. As a result, advertisers had to look for new opportunities to reach their audience.

Today: Streaming Ads

Fast forward to today, and streaming services have taken over as the dominant media consumption platform. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have millions of subscribers, providing a huge potential audience for advertisers. As a result, media buying strategies have had to evolve to keep up with these changes.

One of the biggest advantages of streaming ads is the ability to target specific demographics. Streaming services have access to a wealth of data on their users, allowing advertisers to create more targeted campaigns. For example, they can target viewers based on their viewing habits, demographics, and even the devices they use to watch content.

Streaming services also provide more flexibility in terms of ad length and format. Advertisers can create short-form ads that play between episodes, or longer-form ads that are integrated into the content. This allows them to create more engaging ads that fit the medium they are being delivered on.

Another benefit of streaming ads is the ability to measure their effectiveness in real-time. Advertisers can track metrics such as impressions, click-through rates, and conversions, providing valuable data on the success of their campaigns. This allows them to make adjustments in real-time, optimizing their campaigns for better performance.

Comparing the Two

While both forms of media buying can help reach a wide audience, there are key differences between them that businesses need to consider when deciding which one to invest in.

Broadcast television media buying involves purchasing advertising space during scheduled programming on network television channels. These channels are typically available to viewers for free or through a paid cable or satellite subscription. Advertisers can choose specific time slots during the day to air their commercials, with prime time slots during popular shows being the most expensive.

Streaming media buying, on the other hand, involves placing ads on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and others. Streaming services have grown in popularity in recent years due to the convenience of being able to watch content on-demand and without commercial interruptions. However, many streaming services now offer ad-supported versions where viewers can watch content for free in exchange for watching advertisements.

One of the main advantages of broadcast television media buying is the reach it offers. Network television channels have a wide audience, and advertisers can choose to air their commercials during popular shows that have high ratings. This can be particularly effective for reaching a broad demographic, such as during sporting events or prime-time programming.

Streaming media buying, on the other hand, offers more targeted advertising options. Streaming services use data and algorithms to personalize content recommendations to individual viewers, and advertisers can use this information to target specific audiences based on their viewing habits and preferences. This can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates as ads are more relevant to the viewer’s interests.

Another advantage of streaming media buying is the ability to measure ad performance more accurately. Streaming services provide advertisers with detailed analytics that show how many viewers saw their ads, how long they watched, and whether they interacted with the ad in any way. This allows advertisers to make more informed decisions about how to allocate their advertising budget and make adjustments to their campaigns in real-time.

However, one disadvantage of streaming media buying is the potential for viewers to skip or ignore ads altogether. Many streaming services offer the option to skip ads after a few seconds, and some viewers may choose to use ad-blockers to avoid them altogether. This can be a challenge for advertisers who want to ensure their message is being seen and heard.

In conclusion, both broadcast television media buying and streaming media buying have their advantages and disadvantages. While broadcast television offers a wide reach and the potential to reach a broad audience, streaming media buying offers more targeted advertising options and more accurate performance metrics. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the specific goals and target audience of the advertiser, as well as the available budget and resources.


  • Jim Warren

    Jim Warren began his professional career in the television and production industry working in Southern California where he discovered that he had a natural sales talent. Combining this talent with his love of film and video production, he built (and eventually sold) the largest infomercial production company of its day. Jim learned how the direct-response industry is an effective training ground for an analytical thinker who loves measured marketing and business metrics. With today’s focus on accountable marketing and online media, those lessons provided him with the advanced insight and skills needed for today’s online metric-driven business model. Connect with Jim Warren on LinkedIn