Ad break innovation

When planning a spot campaign, there are lots of things to think about – what channels and programmes to use, what should your reach and frequency be etc. You might also want to think about utilising some of the ad break innovations that exist or perhaps you might want to try something completely new? We’ve highlighted some of the ad break innovations that have been done already with great success, but if you have an idea for something new, it’s worth taking it to the broadcasters as they are always looking for different ways to innovate.

1. Themed breaks

Themed breaks are always done in partnership with broadcasters and offer advertisers a unique opportunity to immerse an audience for a few minutes with an ad break that is themed in some way.

Themed breaks are entertaining, interesting and attention grabbing and have proven to be a very successful tool for advertisers and usually generate excellent PR for agencies and broadcasters.

Over the years, there have been a variety of different themed breaks, such as a knitted ad break on ITV when six ads were recreated in a knitted format to promote fundraising for Text Santa or an ad break in French (with subtitles) during the launch of French zombie drama ‘The Returned’ on Channel 4.

A more recent example comes from Sky and their Net Zero Carbon Ad break. The ad break features the five winners of Sky’s Footprint Fund – an initiative established to support businesses that inspire others to join the journey to Net Zero Carbon.  

Themed breaks are a great way to keep the viewer entertained and engaged for the whole ad break. 


2. Ad break takeovers

An ad break takeover is when one single advertiser takes over the entire ad break. This might be to launch a new campaign with a long form ad. Sainsbury’s did this in 2014 when they launched their Christmas campaign that tells the story of Christmas Day in 1914 when British and German soldiers emerged from their trenches to exchange gifts and play football. The 3 min 40 second ad told a powerful emotional story and raised money for the Royal British Legion.

Another example comes from Ronseal when they used an entire 3-minute ad break to show a man painting a fence in silence. The ad was perfectly aligned with the brand image, generated lots of engagement on social media and drove strong sales. 

Sometimes, instead of the takeover being one long ad, it’s an interruptive ad break where one brand has creatively changed the format of the ad break.  A great example of this comes from Paramount when they were launching their Sonic The Hedgehog movie in 2020. The first few ads in the break were speeded up by Sonic to reflect his speedy nature and these were followed by a 120 second trailer for the movie.


3. Contextual ads

When content and context collide, TV advertising can be a beautiful thing. Collaboration between broadcasters, creative agencies, brands and media agencies means that we’re seeing more contextual advertising on TV, bringing together great content with the right context to deliver ads with relevance which stand out.

Contextual advertising is a very powerful and effective use of TV and can deliver a brand the perfect audiences. The contextualisation can be achieved in a variety of ways:

  • The ad could refer to something in the programme it appears within
  • The content of the ad and the programme could be similar
  • Talent in the ad also features in the programme

Contextual ads feel more relevant and have greater impact and can be a powerful tool for brands


4. Interactive or Personalised ads - BVOD

On BVOD, there is a range of different options to choose from. 

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