In late January, YouTube reached 4 billion views per day. That's pretty close to a view per person in the entire world's population (and history tells us that number will only continue to grow).
It seems kind of funny to still be talking about YouTube like its new 8 years after it was first launched, but that just speaks to how quickly its changing and the new ways people are finding to use it everyday. I want to talk about all online video viewing, but it's impossible to talk about that and not start with the site that made that medium what it is.
This year, CBS charged between $3.8 and $4 million for a 30 second spot to air during the Super Bowl.
In a study done by Google, The ARF, Nielsen, Stanford & Wharton in 2011, it was found that online video ads drove 1.5x the brand breakthrough of TV ads.
Why do they think that was? It's kind of simple, really: Clutter.
Television viewers will spend %75 of their time watching actual TV and %25 watching ads. Whereas %1.3 of all online viewing (even taking into account non-monetized videos) is spent watching ads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V7_87SNebg). Now, those numbers may speak to the merits of advertising on television on the surface, but consider that that %1.3 percent is making more of an impact, simply because you view one to two videos max online before getting to the content you want to see. You're more engaged with those two ads because they're not lost in the horde of ads you see watching an hour long program on any broadcast or basic cable network.
Not only is your ad more likely to make an impact online these days, but you can measure that impact (be it good or bad) in greater detail. With built in analytics, you can more accurately track why your commercial is succeeding or why it's failing. Reaction to a TV-based commercial is even partially measured through online/social media reaction these days, so why wouldn't you just host it there for better returns?
Also consider that while live television viewership has decreased over time, the cost of advertising on television has only risen. Some might argue that those live viewers are still there, they're just watching in different ways. But those different ways are via DVR (during which they'll skip commercials) or online viewing through Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Video on Demand (where your commercial will make more of an impact).
Are TV commercials a dead medium? No, absolutely not, and they probably never will be. This is all just to say that it's probably time to start considering how to best use those advertising dollars when you want to air some sort of commercial. Is the cost of television worth it? Or should you start to embrace the growing medium of online video viewing? 8 years and 4 billion views a day later, I say that it's probably safe to start.