Discover the Power of TV Advertising

There are all sorts of reasons why television advertising is so brilliant at creating success for brands and businesses both in the short-term and the long-term. Here are the top ten, plus supporting evidence and links.

  1. TV is the best profit generator
  2. TV is the lead effectiveness medium
  3. TV has unbeatable scale and reach
  4. We spend more time with TV than any other media
  5. TV is the most talked about medium both on and offline
  6. Multi-screening brings viewers closer to content and brands
  7. All TV ads can be response ads
  8. TV is the catalyst for other media
  9. TV is everywhere
  10. TV is the emotional medium and builds brand fame

1. TV is the best profit generator

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There is a growing body of research into advertising effectiveness, by the IPA and others such as Ebiquity, which shows how TV consistently outperforms all other media in terms of sales and profit. It also illustrates that TV is crucial for building brands’ long-term profit.

Thinkbox is able to point to five major and impartial studies into the effectiveness of advertising to make this assertion with confidence.

  • On average £1 invested in TV pays back £1.79 in profit, more than any other medium (Ebiquity, Payback 4, 2014)
  • TV pays back both over the short and long-term, but the long-term approach is where the real power lies and where the greatest profit is generated. In campaigns lasting 3+ years, TV advertising creates an average uplift in profit of nearly 140% (IPA, ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’, 2013)

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2. TV is the lead effectiveness medium

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TV is not only the best profit generator; it is also the most effective medium at generating sales, consistently outperforming everything else.

  • TV advertising is, on average, twice as effective at increasing sales per equivalent exposure than the next best performing medium, which is press (Ebiquity, ‘Payback 4’, 2014)
  • TV delivers its value over a much longer time frame. TV spend from year 1 still affects sales in year 2 almost as strongly – in fact 45% of TV’s total sales effect were delivered after year the first year of investment (PwC, Payback 1, 2008)
  • TV adds the greatest number of business effects to a campaign – things such as sales, profit and market share. It increases these hard business effects on average by 41%. The next best medium is press, which increases business effects by 14% (IPA, ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’, 2013)

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3. TV has unbeatable scale and reach

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TV has the greatest reach of all media. No other form of advertising can build scale as quickly and powerfully as TV. It is TV’s unique ability to deliver huge audience figures in a short space of time that is part of the reason it is the most effective type of advertising around.

  • Commercial TV reaches 71.4% of the UK population in a day, 92.8% in a week and 98.2% in a month (BARB, 2014)
  • That is 3 hours, 41 minutes a day of linear TV on TV set (BARB, 2014) plus  3 minutes and 30 seconds minutes a day on other devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones (UK broadcaster data, 2014).
  • Commercial TV’s reach has remained stable for the last 5 years for all age groups. For example, in 2010, commercial TV reached 88.2% of 16-34s in a week; in 2014, it was 88.6% (BARB, 2010-14)
  • An average broadcast TV campaign of 400 TVRs in the UK gets 234 million views (BARB, 2014)

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4.  We spend more time with TV than any other media

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Advertising should be judged on effectiveness above all else. However the time people choose to spend with a device or medium is a sign of its vitality and popularity. If no one is using something, they can’t see its advertising. TV is by far the most popular medium.

  • TV accounts for 48% of the average person’s chosen media day and 41.3% of 15-24s’ chosen media day (IPA, Touchpoints 5, 2014)
  • Commercial TV makes up two thirds of total TV viewing in the UK with the average person watching 2 hours, 25 minutes a day (BARB, 2014)
  • The average UK viewer watched 45 TV ads a day at normal speed (fast-forwarded ads are not counted) in 2014 – 7 ads more a day than ten years ago. Collectively the UK watched an average of 2.65 billion ads a day in 2014 (BARB, 2014)
  • In 2014, 88% of all TV set viewing was watched live compared to 89% in 2013 (there is no data yet to show what proportion of TV watched on other screens is live-streamed).
  • Specifically in the 58% of households that own a digital television recorder (DTR), 83% of TV on a TV set in 2014 was watched live compared to 84% in 2013. The level of non-live viewing (i.e. playback and VOD within 7 days on a TV set) seems to be settling around the 15-20% mark.

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5. TV is the most talked about medium both on and offline

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From the word on the street to the words in a tweet, word of mouth is marketing magic. Brands want to be talked about; they want to become household names. And nothing gets people talking like TV.

  • TV advertising drives 51% of all marketing-generated conversations. In total, 72% of incremental brand conversations are driven by paid-for advertising (Data2Decisions/Keller Fay/Thinkbox, ‘POETIC’, 2013)
  • TV ads are the most talked about form of advertising. Asked on which medium they thought they were likely to find advertising they would talk about face to face or on the ‘phone, 58% of the UK said TV. The next closest was social networks with 10% (Ipsos Media CT/Thinkbox, ‘TV Nation’, 2014)
  • The same was true of online conversation: 28% believed TV advertising would get the talking online. Social networks were again the nearest rival, with 11% (Ipsos Media CT/Thinkbox, ‘TV Nation’, 2014)

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6.  Multi-screening brings viewers closer to content and brands

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Multi-screening – aka second screening, dual screening or two screening – has become increasingly popular in recent years. Put simply, it is when when a TV viewer has a connected screen, such as a mobile phone or tablet to hand, and uses it to respond to and interact with TV they are watching. It enhances the viewing experience and opens up exciting new possibilities for broadcasters and advertisers. Multiple screens bring multiple opportunities.

  • Multi-screening is common. Adults aged over 15 spend 25 minutes each day using the internet whilst watching TV. This is up 48% since 2011 when it was 17 minutes per day (IPA, Touchpoints 5, 2014)
  • Multi-screeners are more likely to stay in the room and in front of the ads when they are multi-screening (Craft/Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: TV advertising everywhere’, 2014)
  • Multi-screening doesn’t reduce ad recall. Multi-screeners can recall 2 ads from the previous 15 minutes of TV viewing, compared to the 1.9 average (Craft/Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: TV advertising everywhere’, 2014)

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7.  All TV ads can be response ads

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Thanks to people’s ability to multi-screen, all TV ads can be acted on immediately. Viewers can go online to research brands they have seen on TV, join in with social elements in TV campaigns and instantly buy products.

  • 69% of website visits are generated by paid-for media and half of those visits (47%) were as a direct result of TV advertising (Data2Decisions/Keller Fay/Thinkbox, ‘POETIC’, 2013)
  • 52% of people welcome TV campaigns which carry a social media call to action, with Facebook and Twitter their favourite platforms to be directed to (Craft/Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: TV advertising everywhere’, 2014)

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8. TV is the catalyst for other media

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One aspect of TV advertising – one that can often be overlooked or misattributed – is how it consistently makes other elements of advertising campaigns work harder.

  • TV’s beneficial effect can be felt by all accompanying media. For radio advertising, the multiplier effect of TV advertising can be greater than 100% and is up to 50% for press and outdoor (Ebiquity, Payback 4, 2014)
  • TV and online synergy is particularly large. In fact, campaigns that use TV and online together are twice as efficient as those that incorporate brand advertising with other kinds of activation channels (IPA, ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’, 2013)
  • The synergy between TV and online has been increasing over time, with efficiency more than doubling since 2006 (IPA, ‘Advertising Effectiveness: the long and short of it’, 2013)

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9. TV is everywhere

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TV is now everywhere. It continues to colonise every screen in sight, in and out of the home. Although the vast majority of TV viewing remains in the home and on the main TV set, new viewing on news screens in new locations has enhanced viewing and interaction.

  • Although the proportion of adults viewing via other devices is still small, it is significant – and growing. 12.5% of the UK watches TV on a desktop/laptop in a week, 5.4% on a tablet and 3.5% on a smartphone (IPA, Touchpoints 5, 2014)
  • On average people watch an extra 3 minutes, 30 seconds of TV a day on other devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops - bringing total viewing to 3hours, 45mins a day (BARB & Broadcaster data, 2014)
  • TV is expanding beyond the living room: 56% of the UK have watched TV on screens other than the TV set while in the living room; 46% in the bedroom; 24% in their study or home office; 19% in the kitchen; 12% in the garden; and 9% in the bathroom or toilet (Craft/Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: TV advertising everywhere’, 2014)
  • TV is watched in many places outside the home: 17% of the UK has watched TV on their tablet, laptop or smartphone when they are at someone else’s house; 13% at work; 12% elsewhere out of home (e.g. waiting for a bus); 10% while travelling on business; 13% in a public building; 16% while on public transport; and 12% while travelling in a car (Craft/Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: TV advertising everywhere’, 2014)

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10. TV is the emotional medium and builds brand fame

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Research by the IPA has repeatedly showed that emotive advertising campaigns and those that seek to make brands famous are by far the most effective at creating large business effects like sales and profit. In fact they are 50% more likely to create these effects. And nothing touches our emotions or creates fame like TV.

  • Asked which forms of advertising make them laugh, cry or feel emotional, 77% of the UK said TV advertising. This dwarfed all other media – the closest rivals were radio and newspapers, each with 8% (Ipsos Media CT/Thinkbox, ‘TV Nation’, 2014)

Click here to see and download the killer charts.

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Discover the power of TV advertising

There are all sorts of reasons why television advertising is so brilliant at creating success for brands and businesses both in the short-term and the long-term.

Associated content

  • This deck brings together the killer evidence which explains how and why TV is the most effective form of advertising - and is in fact becoming more effective.
  • Some frequently asked questions about getting started on television.
  • Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletters we’ll send you all the latest from the world of TV advertising, including news of our latest research studies and forthcoming events. You’ll also be able to download lots of useful stuff from our website with your login. It’s quick and easy to do, and you can do that here.
  • Here you will find concrete proof of how TV can work for you and how it pays back, whatever the time scale or budget.
  • Our latest ad dramatises the powerful effect that TV can have. We thought you might like some "at a glance" examples of brands that have recently used TV and experienced business-transforming effects, against all sorts of objectives from launching or building a brand to increasing web-traffic, footfall and sales: we hope there is something here to inspire.