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TV’s having a moment

Rejuvenated, resurgent, reinvigorated, refreshed, reborn, resplendent, renaissance (same as reborn but in French), restored, recharged, reappraised, really, really good…

Pick a re- word as regards the brilliant efforts of the England football team. But any of them could equally be applied to TV advertising this year.

TV is having a remarkable moment. We’re in one of those periods when people briefly stop agonising and prognosticating and identifying future hurdles to clear, and start looking at what’s happening around them, start appreciating the present.

We’ve seen bumper TV audiences making the news, with huge numbers tuning in to watch Prime Minister-in-waiting Gareth Southgate’s team – a peak of 31 million for the heart-breaking final game, making it one of the biggest audiences in broadcasting history.

And, by all accounts, TV advertising has not so much bounced back from 2020 as leapt and bounded back – and not just ITV with its Euros coverage and the return of Love Island; there’s love across the whole TV eco-system.

So, TV having a moment is a good moment to reflect on what’s fuelling its revival.

Most obviously, the return of 2020’s lost categories has boosted TV. For example, travel TV spend was up 2,719% in Q1 2021 compared with Q1 2020, according to Nielsen. And now we want to go out again, clothing spend grew by 415% from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021. They and others are back in our breaks and fighting for customers.

There’s also a new marketing climate that rewards TV. At the start of 2020 there was already an increasing culture of effectiveness – a focus on business outcomes – and the crisis fitted afterburners onto this as marketers had to make – and justify – exactly the right decisions with precious budgets. TV benefits from this.

It also benefits from the influx of new advertisers on TV last year – some 1,243 when the annual number is normally around 750. These brands took advantage of the drop in demand that lowered the cost of TV and offered exceptional value.

But, though they may have come for the value, they stayed for the results and many have doubled down in 2021. Online car retailer Cazoo, for example, who invested nearly £15 million in 2020 and has already invested nearly £9 million so far this year.

Like Cazoo, many of these new advertisers were from a category that has a natural relationship with TV: ecommerce. Cazoo is joined by businesses like Klarna, Farmdrop and a host of others who are now on TV reaping the benefits of both its sales-driving punch and signalling strengths, which convey trust, credibility, and quality. Amazon more than doubled their TV spend in Q2 2021 compared with Q2 2020 – up to £12.6 million.

Then there’s CTV. I’m afraid I can’t avoid mentioning CTV. You may be suffering CTV fatigue like me but connected TV has undoubtedly been a hot topic in 2021. The TV broadcasters have been offering CTV advertising (without necessarily branding it that) for years. So the sudden interest in CTV should result in extra interest in broadcaster VOD, which is the prime CTV opportunity in the UK.

And then there’s a C-named initiative that I’m very happy to mention: CFlight. The imminent arrival of the cross-broadcaster campaign measurement tool has been welcomed by all corners of the industry. It’s been a monumental effort to create it, but worth every second of the two years of collaboration it took – and it’s added another layer of confidence to TV advertising.

Of course, it’s not all good. It never is. We could probably do without the Culture Secretary writing letters to The Times (£) saying “traditional viewing habits are dead” when they patently aren’t. How’s he been watching the Euros?

But, notwithstanding that sort of thing, TV is having a moment, and it is worth taking a moment to recognise that. Then we can go back to enjoying the summer.


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