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An introduction to TV advertising

Today marks 81 years since the first official television advertisement.


On 1st July 1941 Bulova Watches paid, somewhere in the region of, $4-$9 to place a test card modified with the strapline “Bulova Watch Time” ahead of a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. In the UK we had to wait until 22nd September 1955 for our first TV ad, which was for Gibbs SR toothpaste and aired on ITV.


TV advertising has come a long way since then with spend on TV advertising in the UK over 2021 reaching a record breaking £5.46 billion. This is up 11% on pre COVID levels.


So what’s all the fuss about and why is TV advertising booming?



TV is trusted and safe

TV advertising in the UK is one of the most closely scrutinised forms of advertising. Before broadcast all adverts must go through a clearance process with Clearcast. This process uses the UK Codes of Advertising (the BCAP and CAP Codes) to ensure that ads aren’t misleading, harmful or offensive.



This means that TV advertising in the UK can be trusted, and it is, TV repeatedly ranks as the most trusted form of advertising. A 2020 study by The Global TV Group found that 42% of UK respondents are most likely to find an advert they trust on TV, compared to 6% for YouTube and 5% for social media.

There’s an added credibility for companies who advertise on TV – they must be a real company because they advertise on TV.



TV evokes an emotional response

It’s been seen time and again that emotive ads create talking points and build awareness (just think of the John Lewis Christmas ads). This in turn drive sales and profit, and which media evokes the most emotion? Yep, you got it, TV!

The below slide is taken from a 2016 survey by Ipsos Connect/Thinkbox. You can see that TV is head and shoulders above any other media for emotional response.



TV offers broad reach

The 2020 IPA touchpoints survey found that TV accounts for 38% of the average person’s media day. Whilst BARB (The Broadcasters’ Audience Reach Board) reports that the average viewer in the UK watches over 3 hours of TV per day, and that 68% of adults in the UK what more than 50 TV ads each day.




TV is targeted

Although TV is broad reach, it can also be highly targeted. We’ve always been able to buy regional TV advertising, but services like Sky Adsmart mean we can now target particular households based on demographics and hundreds of data segments.



TV is effective


TV can boost brands by building awareness at scale in a cost-effective way. A 2019 study by Thinkbox found that across 78 brands the average spend on TV advertising was 66% of the full media budget, but that this returned 80% of all ad generated sales. The same study found that a 4 week TV campaign builds a weekly sales uplift of c. 25%.


According to a US study by ThinkTV, TV advertising has a halo effect, boosting the ROI of digital advertising by 22%, showing that advertising on TV makes the rest of your advertising work harder.



TV is for all advertisers, big and small


If you’re not a multi-national don’t let this put you off exploring TV advertising. TV advertising campaigns can be affordable. According to Thinkbox, 31% of all TV advertisers in 2021 spent less than £50,000 on their campaigns.


Running short, affordable bursts of TV advertising can be great for a campaign, meaning that you benefit from the broad reach and credibility that comes with advertising on TV, whilst only spending what you are comfortable with budget-wise.


If you want to find out more about how TV can be used to target your customers, then drop us a line

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