The ad spending boost for a network marketing campaign is not necessarily a good thing.
That’s because advertisers are still spending money on content marketing and ads in a network ad buy, but those efforts can have a bigger impact on brand performance.
According to research firm Zogby Analytics, the amount of money that networks spend on ad buys has increased from $8 billion in 2011 to $10.2 billion in 2016, while ad spending on the entire network increased by more than $4 billion.
In the past year, network ad spending grew at a rate of more than 20%, while ad spend on individual networks has dropped by a little more than 10%.
“The ad buy is still the number one thing that we spend,” said Jason McInnis, a senior network marketing analyst at Zoggy.
“But I think there’s more that can be done, especially in the areas of content, targeting, social, and ad inventory.”
For instance, the majority of ads for a program like the NFL Network, MLB Network and Disney Channel don’t require a network buy, and there’s no reason that the networks shouldn’t take advantage of this.
McInnes noted that some ad buys may be more targeted toward specific audiences, but it’s still the right choice.
“If you look at a typical network ad, it doesn’t have a clear distinction between people who want to buy content, people who will be buying ads, and people who just want to watch a show,” he said.
McInnis also noted that ad spend can also affect the quality of the ad.
He said that for a brand that has invested a lot of money in content, if it’s not being served properly, the brand may feel like the content isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
“When you see a brand who doesn’t care about what they’re doing, then the brand is going to be going to a place where they’re not going to want to come back,” he explained.
“For some brands, that could be a bad place to be.”
A brand with a clear strategy can benefit from a network spending boost, but some networks can also take advantage.
McIngnis said that some networks are spending a lot more money on network ads than others.
For example, NBCUniversal spent more than a billion dollars on its ad buys in 2016.
It’s also a leader in social media, where the network is spending more than any other network.
“We spend a lot on social media.
We’re one of the first companies to do it, and we’re the only network that spends that much,” he noted.
“So we’re kind of ahead of the game.
But it’s certainly a place to start, and then you can start to scale up to other channels.”
Advertisers have an opportunity to benefit from increased ad spending because they’re paying less for content and less for ad inventory, but there are also potential downsides to that spending.
McInsnes said that while network ads may not be expensive, they can still make a brand look bad.
“It can be very hard to sell a brand with bad ads that can get people to buy from them,” he added.
“And it’s very difficult to get the people who are buying to stay.”
McIngnes said a network’s ad spending could also impact brand performance by being used as a means of “advertising fatigue.”
Ads can also have an effect on other aspects of a brand’s business.
A company that invests heavily in social, content and advertising could be better positioned to succeed as a network brand.
McIngnis also said that a network with strong advertising strategy could be the perfect fit for a company that has an established business that can take advantage a network strategy.
“They’re going to need a great brand, and they’re going need to be well positioned to build a strong brand.
It makes sense for them,” McInns said.
“If they have a solid brand, they have the potential to build up their brand.”
While McInnoss findings are encouraging, McIngnes cautioned that the research company doesn’t really know if a network buying boost is beneficial or not.
“The data isn’t conclusive,” he pointed out.
“In a perfect world, a network would be spending more on network advertising,” McIngns said, “but there’s always going to have to be a tradeoff between ad quality and ad spend.”