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Introduction to spot advertising

In 2020, 68% of viewers watched more than 50 linear ads a week. There were 899 billion impacts in 2020, an increase of 5% on 2019. There is no sign we are about to stop watching, talking about and sharing TV ads with others.

Today you can be inventive with the humble spot. In this section we explain all the new innovations and showcase the work of those leading the way. We hope there’s something inspiring or surprising here for you.

The power of the 30” and 60” spots

30”and 60” spots are at the heart of TV advertising. The 30” Spot advert is exactly that - an advert which lasts for 30 seconds, booked at a certain spot in the TV ad break schedule. The 60” Spot advert can communicate more information. It may also offer increased standout during a break because its length will mean there are fewer other adverts competing for attention. 

These spots can be specified so that an ad can appear before, during or after a programme. The type of viewer with the profile most likely to purchase a product can be targeted. Each of the programme companies charge different rates, or prices, for spot time. These rates will be linked to the number of viewers the programme is likely to attract.

Take a look at some the best ads breaking on screen now

Short and sweet

Spots can of course vary in length and 10”, 20” and 40” spots are available.  

There are many examples of brands deploying a series of highly impactful short spots to build awareness and deliver cut through. Many advertisers also use short form to plug into the effects achieved by showing longer ads.

Sometimes, ads can be even shorter and these are called blipverts. Usually, blipverts are two seconds long and most likely there will be five of them in one break to make the equivalent of a one ten second spot. Blipverts are often used to create excitement or intrigue about a new product or variant. They can be used to tease viewers and generate curiosity about what is to come and are usually followed up by a longer ad later on that provides more information or a reveal.

Epic/long form

Sometimes 60” is just not enough time to tell your brand’s story.

In recent years we’ve seen a growing trend for epic ads of high quality and in long form. From 90” to a few minutes, advertisers are launching campaigns with TV ads that are extended executions or mini-films.

Often these long form ads are premiered to launch a campaign and then supported by shorter ad formats on TV and new media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook or a brand’s own website to distribute online.

We’ve seen some wonderful examples of this from Honda’s Cog to Sony Bravia’s Balls and Sainsbury’s 2015 Christmas campaign ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’

Sainsbury’s: Mog’s Christmas Calamity

Themed breaks

Sometimes one spot just isn’t enough. From movie promotion to comedy galas and show launches, themed breaks have been used for all sorts of promotion in the past few years.

Themed breaks are always done in partnership with broadcasters and offer advertisers a unique opportunity to immerse an audience for a whole few minutes. Entertaining, relevant and attention grabbing; they have proven to be a very successful tool for advertisers and to generate excellent PR for agencies and broadcasters.

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 within 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 audience. 

Live ads

In TV we know the power of live and this can now be extended from content to advertising. Live ads are becoming more prevalent in TV advertising today. They are potentially risky, but very rewarding.

Live ads can generate a lot of PR for brands but they are far more than just PR stunts; attracting large, anticipative audiences and bringing audiences together around an event. From Honda’s live sky dive in 2008 to the First Choice live marriage proposal on ITV in 2015, advertisers are using the power of live in new and innovative ways.

Live ads can also drive real-time response with live information being published during an ad acting as a call to action for the audience. Betting brands are a great example of this; running live ads during live sporting events promoting the latest odds to drive in-play betting.

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