By on August 28, 2012 | 15 Comments

Is TV Dying As An Effective Law Firm Advertising Medium?

Many opinions surface when TV advertising is discussed in conjunction with law firm advertising.  I will be the first to say that if the budget permits, and TV advertising is done well, TV ads are “currently” one of the most effective ways to obtain clients.  This is especially true of law firms that also have a comprehensive Internet presence. The marketing cost per client obtained from TV may not be as low as the cost to acquire clients from the Web, but TV provides faster initial returns and can amass a significant number of clients.  To prepare for the future, law firms that have not focused on the Internet should quickly start to position themselves by choosing a qualified law firm Web marketing vendor and implementing a comprehensive Web presence.

As an avid Olympics fan, I missed few events this year. However, I recorded the events and watched them at night, fast-forwarding my digital video recorder (DVR) through every commercial.  I polled a large number of friends, and they told me they did the same.  I am preparing to watch a Carolina Panthers/New York Jets game that came on ten minutes ago.  I am recording the game and will start watching it in 50 minutes so that I can fast-forward through the commercials.  This is the way increasing numbers of people are watching TV.

Multiple sources now agree that that TV viewing and advertising are in danger.  A New York Times article stated, “It has long been predicted that these new media would challenge traditional television viewing, but this is the first significant evidence to emerge in research data. If the trends hold, the long-term implications for the media industry are huge, possibly causing billions of dollars in annual advertising spending to shift away from old-fashioned TV.”

The article continues, “The television industry has been expecting — and dreading the day — that TV viewing peaks, and then either plateaus or slowly declines in the face of encroaching Internet and phone use. According to data that Nielsen will [fully] release on Thursday, television viewing as a whole is steady, in part because older Americans — particularly those over the age of 65 — are watching more than ever before. Digital video recorders deserve some of the credit for the uptick, since they let people stockpile shows.

But for three straight quarters, there have been declines in viewing among Americans under 35, even when DVR viewership is factored in, according to Nielsen data analyzed by The New York Times.”

A recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism discussed how the younger generation gathers its news. It’s clear that the times are changing. The article stated, “Young people are generally less interested in watching TV and listening to radio than their elders. Instead, between 20 and 27% of people under 44 use mobile phones to access the news; tablets are generally used between age 25 and 54. Social media is often used as a gateway to search for news, particularly by younger respondents. News websites and search engines (Google or Bing) are still the main gateways to the news, ahead of aggregator websites (MSN and Yahoo) and social networks (Facebook then Twitter). There is also a difference between young and old in the way they participate and interact with online news and content, the younger, again, being more active on social networks and less so on traditional websites.”

In other examples of threats to TV viewing and advertising, in early 2012, Citigroup reduced its rating on several media companies from buy to neutral. In explanation, Citigroup stated that TV viewing and ad purchasing are declining.  Other data show that cable TV subscribers are shrinking.

As reported in an MSN Money article, Coca-Cola is less enthusiastic about 30-second TV spots.  The article states, “With ad-skipping rampant, the company has lost faith in the effectiveness of traditional ads in comedies and dramas, save for the Super Bowl, ‘American Idol’ and other programming that consumers watch live and talk about the next day around the Coke machine,” according to MediaPost.

Rich Greenfield of BTIG has argued that 2012 will be the first year in history that traditional TV consumption will decline. That is forcing networks to get creative to find ways to squeeze more money out of advertisers.  Also, as the public watches TV less, political advertisers are changing their advertising methods.

Whether subscribers are growing or shrinking, the number of TV viewers who skip ads is growing despite the TV mediums’ efforts to say otherwise.  Ask virtually any DVR or TIVO owner how many ads they watch. Most will say, “zero.”  Additionally, ad skipping technology is advancing.  The major TV networks are trying to prevent Dish Network from selling its “Auto Hop” feature that skips past ads.

The Internet Communicates and Interacts Rather Than Emulating A Megaphone

Traditional methods for attracting potential clients are also changing.  Consumers like the ability to interact with their service-providers.  Unlike TV, which is similar to a megaphone, the Internet provides detailed, interactive information and allows visitors to do so much more than idly watch.

Seth Godin gave an excellent talk on the approach of attracting “tribes” rather than spending increasing amounts each month and blasting a message out with hope of reaching clients. Social media and blogs take time, but they are excellent ways to build your own tribe.

Internet Advertising Advantages

Online advertising will outpace print advertising in 2012, according to eMarketer.  By 2016, many experts predict that online advertising will outpace TV advertising.  However, ad “spending” is not where the entire marketing focus should be.  Return on investment should be the focus.  Potential law firm clients may be watching TV, but if they are fast-forwarding through the commercials, the TV advertisements are not delivering the law firm’s message.

Another advantage Web advertising has over TV is that consumers who watch TV or movies on the Internet do not normally have the option of skipping the commercials.

Obtaining Help

Internet advertising is clearly the future of law firm advertising.  Prospective clients are increasingly using the Internet in every area of their lives. We will be happy to assist your law firm in developing a successful Internet presence.  We have numerous law firm testimonials from clients who are getting impressive ROIs from their Internet investment as well as paying far less for Web conversions than TV conversions.  Please contact us at (800) 872-6590 or to learn more.


Dale Tincher is CEO of, Inc.  Dale lives in Raleigh, NC and is a prominent Web design and promotion specialist, endorsed Web consultant, trainer, writer, photographer and speaker. Follow Dale on Google+.

LeAnna Easterday says:

August 30, 2012 at 6:11pm

This is such a timely article, Dale! Google just released a report entitled “The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior” (

It’s packed with data, but especially pertinent are these stats:

77% of the time people watch TV, they are using another device simultaneously; 49% of the time it’s a smartphone, 34% of the time a PC.

While using multiple screens in general, 44% report they browse the Internet and 23% do searches.

They point out that “TV no longer commands our full attention”, but also how “TV is a major catalyst for search”.

Michael Joseph says:

August 30, 2012 at 9:33pm

Great article Dale! As you mentioned, back in May of this year Dish Network launched their “Hopper,” a device that allows people to skip over commercials while watching tv. So now people don’t even have to fast-forward anymore, they just hit skip.

In my home, we’re locked into a contract with another cable company, so we use DVR instead. We filled it to capacity during the Olympics, over 125GB worth of HD recordings, and how many commercials do you think we watched during the Olympics? That’s right, ZERO! Who has the time anymore to watch commercials? I know I don’t.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights, I look forward to reading more from you.

Joseph Mas says:

August 31, 2012 at 1:38pm

Great article!
In reference to the following sentence;

“77% of the time people watch TV, they are using another device simultaneously; 49% of the time it’s a smartphone, 34% of the time a PC.”

Knowing this, we can tailor the TV commercials to get them to use the device or PC they are on to do a search for your brand if skillfully crafted.

On another note, a typical TV ad gets over a million impressions in less than 30 seconds where as a PPC campaign or website would be pressed to get this many impressions in a month.

The bottom line is that there is real value in TV but the new age interaction of the audience must be accounted for to make any TV campaign effective. To run a typical ad on TV and use the same techniques as from the 80′s and even into the 2000′s is not going to have the same results as it may have had 10 or 20 years ago.

Times have changed and the way we connect with people on a business level must flex to meet the needs of the current generation or we will get left behind.

Joe Mas

Kevin Smith says:

August 31, 2012 at 2:14pm

When you advertise on TV you are casting out a net to tons of mostly irrelevant users hoping to catch a few. The money it costs to create a commercial and the fees to run it in relevant markets are expensive. What you get is a short term lift in calls to your firm. The ad life can also run out rather quickly leaving you with an continued investment if you get addicted to that quick lift in contacts from TV. With more and more people using new technology to skip ads all together, your audience is shrinking, yet the cost is staying consistent.

The web has become a long term investment that can reach out to more relevant users. Although the average attention span of a web user is shorter, they are searching for the content that is being served which makes it more relevant for the individual.

Personally I have basically traded television for web based content. TV and web are merging. If you are not on the web, you are behind.

Great article Dale!

Joseph Mas says:

August 31, 2012 at 6:09pm

Agreed Kevin. Online niche targeting and targeted social media campaigns provide a much better ROI for marketing (and is simpler to track results). I am not advocating or dissing TV advertising, but if you use that channel of marketing, you have to do it correctly.


Dale Tincher says:

August 31, 2012 at 6:57pm

That makes sense, Joe. Regardless of whether the Web, TV or any other medium is used (or a combination), the campaign(s) must be planned, targeted, implemented and tracked properly. We see numerous Web marketing campaigns that simply waste the law firm’s money. The campaigns are poorly planned and implemented and the law firms are too busy to track the results and their ROI.

Dale Tincher says:

August 31, 2012 at 2:30pm

Another reason TV advertising is in danger is the continued availability of technology. TIVO’s new $130 TIVO Stream allows users to stream pre-recorded programs to several devices, e.g., iPod Touch, IPad, etc. – TIVO viewers can, as mentioned previously,fast forwarded through the commercials.

Targeting, then providing relevant, useful information and allowing those consumers to interact, will significantly increase the ROI. We often create topical (targeted) social media pages ( for our clients on e.g., distracted driving, toning shoes injuries, mesothelioma, etc., to find the applicable communities and allow them to obtain information and interact. The topical, targeted social media pages provide a much better ROI than general social media pages.

Dale Tincher says:

September 11, 2012 at 7:53pm

Dish Network Vice President Vivek Khemka stated recently that his company will not back down in the face of network lawsuits against his company for the commercial skipping “Hopper”. Dish has its own lawsuits against the networks. Khemka says that, “Consumers have been skipping commercials since the beginning of the DVR. This just simplifies the process. The feedback from consumers is that love it.” See for the article.

Dale Tincher says:

September 18, 2012 at 3:44pm

While it does not seem to address ad skipping technology, a new survey from GfK MRI’s iPanelTM shows that 63% of tablet owners use them while watching TV.

The survey also states, “Even bigger: tablet owners engage the second screen during 41% of their total TV time. What are they doing with those tablets? Glad you asked:
• Posted comments on Facebook, Twitter, a blog or another website regarding a show being watched: 34%
• Visited a network or show’s website, fan-site or app: 25%
• Obtained information related to a show being watched: 21%
• Watched a video clip related to a show being watched: 16%
• Voted in a contest related to a show being watched: 11%
• Live chatted about a show being watched: 9%”

Also note this: “Moreover, in the past seven days, 28% of two-screen viewers used their tablet to look up more information about a product advertised during a show they were watching and 12% purchased a product advertised during a show.”

My thoughts are that In the past seven days, 28% of two-screen viewers used their tablet to look up more information about “a” product being advertised and 12% purchased “a” product. One product out of hundreds advertised over 7 days is not a good return.

The survey states that the tablet trend, “is particularly good news for marketers; having a tablet at hand makes it much easier for consumers to respond instantly to commercial offers while they are top of mind.” However, as I stated above, it does not seem to address ad skippers.

Dale Tincher says:

October 29, 2012 at 6:58pm

I ran across another good article, “Cutting the Cable: Pay TV Subscribers Turn to Internet”

The text includes, “Between 2008 and 2011, an estimated 2.65 million people, or 2.6 percent of U.S. pay TV subscribers, cut their TV subscriptions to rely solely on online content or watch broadcast television with the use of an antenna, according to an April report from the Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. of Toronto, which studies the trend. Of that number, 1.05 million did it in 2011, and it is projected that by the end of this year the number of cord cutters will reach 3.58 million, the study said.”

Dale Tincher says:

February 24, 2013 at 3:57pm

USA Today February 22, 2013, Money section, had a section called Checking Pop Culture’s Purse with the article title, “Finally, Factoring In The Web”. The section said that, “The Web is re-defining entertainment: Now its influence is shaping measurements of what Americans watch and what music they listen to. Nielsen, which measures TV viewership, will soon begin counting people who watch programs through broadband services such as Netflix in addition to the traditional broadcast and cable hook-up. “Billboard” this week began counting U.S. YouTube data among the factors it uses for its Hot 100 songs, rankings and other charts.”

Dale Tincher says:

March 25, 2013 at 7:08pm

“Signals Weak for TV-Ad Market – Lower Broadcast Ratings, Fragile Economy and Competition From Web Rivals Mute ‘Upfront’ Outlook” – a Wall street Journal article, March 25, 2013 –

LeAnna Easterday says:

July 25, 2013 at 6:14pm

According to Motorola’s recent Media Engagement study, more than one-third of weekly TV viewing by Americans is pre-recorded. Roughly three-quarters pre-record their shows to skip advertisements!

Dale Tincher says:

August 1, 2013 at 4:32pm

Two additional important reasons Web advertising will continue to advance at the expense of TV advertising are Google’s $35 device – and Starbucks wi-fi partnership
Google’s simple device will shake up television Outside the Box

Dale Tincher says:

August 22, 2013 at 1:59am

In an article entitled, “Sony Grabs Lead in Race for Internet Pay TV
Preliminary Deal to Carry Viacom Channels Is Content Coup for Planned Service”, an August 16, 2013 Wall Street Journal article states, “Like its technology rivals, Sony is planning to stream cable channels and on-demand programming over the Internet, posing new competition for cable, satellite and phone companies that sell subscription TV services.”

He also comments, “The Justice Department is examining the impact of such restrictions on the development of online services, people familiar with the matter said.

The department has been examining whether the nation’s biggest cable and satellite companies are acting improperly to stifle competition from online video, a probe The Wall Street Journal reported last year.”

Leave a Reply