TV Advertising: 10 Reasons Why Brands Still Love It

Jun 19, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW


TV advertising – a term that conjures up images of prime-time commercials, catchy jingles, and unforgettable brand mascots. Despite the rise of digital media and online advertising, television remains a significant player in the marketing world. Its potential to reach millions of viewers simultaneously gives it a powerful advantage, but why do brands continue to invest heavily in it, and how does it stack up against other forms of advertising in this increasingly digital age?

In this article, we delve deep into TV advertising, exploring the unique attributes that have helped it endure and evolve amidst the changing media landscape. We will look at the myriad advantages it offers to brands – from the vast audience reach to the unparalleled trust it commands. We will also delve into the drawbacks, an inevitable aspect of any advertising medium, but with a focus on how they can be navigated or mitigated.

Whether you’re considering TV advertising for your brand, looking to understand its effectiveness, or simply curious about its enduring appeal, this exploration will provide comprehensive insight. Join us as we shed light on why TV advertising remains a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal and why brands around the globe continue to love it.

What Is TV Advertising?


As we all know, TV advertising refers to the use of television’s broadcast platform to convey a commercial message to a targeted audience. This powerful medium enables brands to promote their products or services on a large scale, utilising engaging audio-visual content that can be tailored to fit a specific demographic or time slot. It is often distinguished by its ability to generate broad awareness and influence consumer behaviour.

But more interestingly, what has been the journey of this fantastic advertising medium and how has it maintained its power, despite today’s modern landscape? Let’s have a quick look:

A brief look at the history of TV advertising

TV advertising in the UK began in the 1950s, with Gibbs SR toothpaste having the honour of being featured in the first British TV commercial alongside the launch of ITV. This period saw brands beginning to recognise the potential of reaching large audiences through the captivating medium of television.

The 1960s and 70s, often referred to as the ‘Golden Age of Advertising’, saw TV advertising come into its own. With the increase in television ownership and the introduction of colour broadcasts, advertisers began crafting more sophisticated and memorable commercials, many of which still hold a place in popular culture.

As we moved into the digital age, TV advertising had to adapt. The emergence of cable and satellite television brought about more channels, providing advertisers with more opportunities to reach their target audience. In recent years, with the rise of on-demand services and smart TVs, TV advertising has further evolved to include addressable and programmatic TV ads, allowing for more targeted and personalised advertising.

TV advertising continues to hold a prominent place in today’s marketing landscape. Despite the popularity of digital media, television still reaches a broad and diverse audience, making it a key tool in any comprehensive marketing strategy. Its ability to tell compelling stories and evoke emotion gives it an edge over other advertising mediums, ensuring it remains a favourite among brands globally.

The Benefits of TV Advertising for Brands

With a majority of the modern world seemingly glued to digital platforms, one might question the relevance and effectiveness of TV advertising. Yet, despite the growing popularity of online advertising, TV advertising continues to play a pivotal role in brand promotion strategies, offering a range of unique benefits.

Let’s dive into the 10 biggest benefits brands get from advertising on TV:

1. Massive reach

Television has the potential to reach millions of homes across the country, making it an incredibly effective platform for broad exposure. Especially if you air an ad during prime time, brands can ensure that their message is being seen by a diverse and expansive audience.

According to BARB, UK households spent an average of 2 hours and 47 minutes watching their goggleboxes per day in May 2023. Which isn’t a small amount of time, all things considered. It’s an indicator of TV’s significant reach across various demographics, making it an appealing medium for brands looking for broad exposure. With numbers like that, it’s really no wonder that in 2021, UK businesses spent a record-breaking £5.46 billion on television commercials.

2. High engagement rates

Unlike many other mediums, television demands the viewer’s attention. People typically dedicate time to sit down and watch TV, which often results in higher engagement with the content they see, including advertisements. It also helps that TV ads aren’t generally skippable unlike online and social video ads, especially if you’re watching live linear.

A 2022 whitepaper by Thinkbox revealed that TV advertising bests other media in terms of average attention levels, including YouTube and Facebook. This means that television’s immersive viewing experience often leads to more significant engagement with advertisements.

3. Capacity for targeted advertising

Have you ever Googled something that you were interested in buying and then a solution pops up while you caught an episode of The Great British Bake Off? Say you were looking for wedding rings, for example, then come across an H. Samuel ad on the telly. That’s targeted advertising.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, TV advertising has the capacity to be more targeted. As more and more households own smart TVs and OOT devices like Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV, broadcasters are able to utilise better audience segmentation and targeted advertising on TV. Sky AdSmart, for instance, allows brands to select households based on various factors, making TV advertisements more relevant to viewers in general. In 2019, Sky AdSmart reported an average uplift of 33% in TV ad engagement.

4. Brand trust and credibility

Television is often perceived as a credible source of information, and this credibility extends to the ads shown on TV. Brands that advertise on TV can benefit from this perceived trustworthiness, enhancing their reputation among viewers. A report by Thinkbox showed that consumers still trust TV advertising more than any other platform. Brands that advertise on TV often gain credibility due to the perception that only successful brands can afford TV advertising.

Plus, during turbulent times, consumers tend to prioritise good-value pricing and strengthen relationships with their favourite, long-established brands. This type of trust can be promoted effectively through TV advertisements.

5. Multi-sensory appeal

TV ads can utilise visuals, sounds, and motion, creating a multi-sensory experience that can be more engaging and memorable than static ads. This rich form of communication can evoke strong emotional responses, enhancing the impact of the advertising message.

According to a 2019 report by Thinkbox, TV ads that effectively utilise sound and visuals are more likely to be emotionally engaging, leading to more impactful brand recall.

6. Proven influence on consumer behaviour

TV advertising has consistently demonstrated its ability to influence consumer behavior, from building brand awareness to driving purchase intent. Its effectiveness is in its reach and its capacity to emotionally connect with viewers, ultimately guiding their buying decisions.

Another report by Thinkbox reaffirmed that TV is the “safest” advertising investment, delivering the highest ROI over other forms of media in the UK. It underlines the influence of TV advertisements in driving consumer purchasing decisions.

7. Great integration with other media

TV advertising can be seamlessly integrated with other marketing efforts, such as digital and social media campaigns. For example, a TV ad can direct viewers to a brand’s website or social media channels, creating a multi-channel experience that helps to reinforce the brand message.

On top of that, TV advertising is proven to have a stronger halo effect than other advertising mediums. ​​When consumers have great encounters with an advertising experience by a given brand, they tend to favour all of the products in that manufacturer’s line — that’s the “halo effect”.

8. High long-term return on investment

While TV advertising requires a significant initial investment, it can yield substantial returns over the long term. The wide reach and lasting impact of TV ads can result in sustained brand recognition and sales growth over time.

Thinkbox’s “Demand Generation” study indicated that TV delivers more profit at the greatest efficiency and for the least risk, out-performing all other forms of advertising. TV advertising offers a high long-term return on investment, with benefits seen over several years and it continues to be the best advertising medium for companies looking to reap longer-term rewards.

9. Innovation and creativity

Television provides a platform for brands to showcase their creativity. From the narrative of the ad to its visual effects and sound design, there’s a great deal of opportunity for brands to innovate and make a lasting impression on viewers.

Moreover, the unique attributes of television as a medium facilitate the use of innovative strategies to engage viewers. Utilising DRTV or BRTV ads aside, brands can also create suspenseful cliffhangers, design episodic ads, or even incorporate interactive elements that invite viewer participation. This potential to constantly innovate and captivate audiences is a significant advantage of TV advertising and explains why brands continuously invest in it.

10. Ability to tell stories

Storytelling is a powerful tool in advertising. Unlike other advertising mediums, television allows for longer narratives that can engage viewers emotionally. A well-told story can resonate with viewers, making the ad – and thus the brand – more memorable.

Furthermore, TV advertising offers the possibility to build complex and long-lasting story arcs. Brands can create recurring characters, ongoing narratives, and episodic stories that unfold over time. This kind of sustained storytelling can lead to heightened audience interest and engagement, and ultimately, stronger brand loyalty. This ability to weave engaging tales and create compelling narratives is part of the unique appeal of TV advertising, providing brands with a powerful tool to connect with their audiences on a deeper level.

Main Disadvantages of TV Advertising

While TV advertising provides numerous advantages, it’s essential to understand its potential drawbacks as well. Each medium has its limitations and TV is no exception. Identifying these disadvantages will help brands make more informed decisions and develop more effective advertising strategies. 

Let’s explore the five main disadvantages of TV advertising:

1. Fleeting exposure

Unlike print or digital ads, which can be revisited by the audience, TV commercials are fleeting. Once they’re aired, they’re gone. While repeated airings can help with this issue, it adds to the overall cost. Furthermore, the short duration of ads means brands have only a limited window to capture viewers’ attention and convey their message.

 2. Less targeted advertising

Despite recent advancements in targeted advertising, TV still lacks the precision targeting capabilities of digital platforms, which can target ads based on detailed demographic data, user behavior, and personal interests. This means some portion of the TV audience reached may not be the intended target market, leading to inefficiencies in ad spend.

3. Ad skipping

Today, viewers have more control over their TV viewing experience than ever before. Digital video recorders (DVRs) allow audiences to record programs and fast-forward through commercials. Additionally, the increasing popularity of ad-free streaming platforms means that many viewers are watching less traditional TV altogether.

This trend presents a challenge for TV advertisers. While their ads may technically reach a large audience, the actual number of viewers who watch the ads may be considerably lower. Audiences today have more options to bypass commercials, which means brands must work harder to create compelling content that viewers will choose to watch.

4. Complexity in measuring effectiveness

Determining the effectiveness of a TV ad can be a complex process. Unlike digital ads, where clicks and conversions can be accurately tracked, it’s challenging to directly link a TV ad to a specific action taken by the viewer. Brands often have to rely on broader metrics like brand awareness or overall sales increases to gauge the success of a TV ad campaign.

5. High costs

One of the most notable downsides of TV advertising is the cost. Producing a TV ad often involves hiring a creative team, actors, and production equipment, which can be expensive. On top of this, the cost to air the ad, particularly during peak viewing times, can be substantial. For smaller businesses with limited budgets, these costs may be prohibitive.

However, this shouldn’t deter you from giving TV advertising a go. There are countless up-and-coming companies that have dipped their toes into TV advertising and ended up stealing market share, such as the online gaming company Mr Q. Plus, there are ways to help make your TV advertising more budget-friendly.

5 Tips to Keep Your TV Ad Budget-Friendly

While TV advertising can be costly, there are ways to manage and even reduce these costs. By being strategic with your ad creation and scheduling, you can make the most out of your TV ad budget

In this section, we’ll briefly discuss five tips to help keep your TV advertising budget-friendly without sacrificing its impact.

1. Utilise CGI

In the past, TV ads required extensive physical production including sets, actors, and cameras. Today, advancements in technology allow brands to create visually appealing ads using Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). 

Not only can CGI save you on production costs, but it also offers unlimited creative freedom. By using CGI for your TV ads, you can create fantastical landscapes, animate characters, or visualise abstract concepts, all without leaving your computer.

2. Book airtime slots in advance

Much like airlines and hotels, TV ad slots can fluctuate in price based on demand. To secure the best rates, consider booking your airtime slots well in advance. This allows you to lock in rates before they potentially rise closer to the air date. Planning ahead also gives you the advantage of having ample time to prepare and perfect your ad, ensuring a higher quality final product.

3. Choose the right time slot

Prime-time slots can be extremely expensive, and so can those highly-coveted Christmas time slots. While they reach a large audience, they may not always provide the best value for your money. 

Analyse your target audience and their viewing habits. Maybe your audience watches more TV in the late afternoon, or perhaps they’re night owls. Choosing off-peak time slots that align with your audience’s habits can still ensure a good reach, often at a fraction of the cost.

4. Consider also using other mediums

While TV is a powerful medium, it shouldn’t be your only medium. Highly consider leveraging your TV ads across digital platforms as well. For example, the ad you create for TV can also be used on VOD platforms, social media channels and online video platforms like YouTube. 

The strategy of utilising mediums such as social video not only increases the reach of your ad but also offers a better return on your investment by stretching the value of your production costs across multiple platforms.

5. Cut down your TV ad length

While 30 to 60-second ads are common, they’re not your only option. Consider shorter ad lengths. Fifteen-second ads, for instance, can still deliver a compelling message and they cost significantly less to air. 

Short ads can be particularly effective when used as part of a broader campaign, complementing longer ads by reinforcing the message in a quick, punchy format. Ultimately, it’s all about creating a great TV ad that resonates with your intended audience — so be sure keep that in mind.

Great Examples of Successful TV Ad Campaigns

Seeing is often believing, and what better way to understand the potential power of TV advertising than by examining some successful examples? While large multinational corporations often dominate the conversation around memorable ads, small- to medium-sized businesses can also create striking TV ad campaigns that resonate with audiences. 

Here are three examples of smaller brands that have effectively utilised TV advertising to enhance their reach, boost their brand recognition, and stimulate sales growth:

1. Dollar Shave Club

One of the most memorable TV ads comes from a small to medium-sized brand, Dollar Shave Club, and their ‘Our Blades are F***ing Great’ campaign. This ad, which initially launched online and later aired on TV, was a game-changer for the company. The campaign’s success can be attributed to its humour, straightforward message, and the charisma of the company’s CEO, Michael Dubin, who starred in the ad. 

This campaign’s unique approach cut through the noise of the shaving market, helping Dollar Shave Club quickly gain a significant market share.

2. Purple Mattress

The US-based mattress company, Purple, is another excellent example of a medium-sized business that leveraged TV advertising to drive its growth. Their ‘Goldilocks and the Raw Egg Test’ ad, which combines humour with an innovative demonstration of their product’s comfort and quality, helped the brand stand out in the crowded mattress market. This ad also transitioned successfully to online platforms, gaining millions of views on YouTube.

3. Oatly

Swedish oat milk brand, Oatly, made waves with its unconventional ‘Wow No Cow’ TV ad campaign. The ad, which features the company’s CEO singing an offbeat jingle in the middle of a field of oats, was initially considered too risky by some. 

Since the advert only starred Oatly’s CEO and was simply set in a field, the ad might have been an extremely budget-friendly way for them to kick off their TV ad journey. However, the ad’s quirky charm and bold message resonated with viewers, helping to establish Oatly as a leading brand in the burgeoning plant-based milk industry.

Create a TV Ad Campaign That Works With FOTW

In conclusion, TV advertising remains a potent tool in the arsenal of brands, large and small. While the landscape of advertising continues to evolve, the mass reach, high engagement, and creative potential of TV advertising offer distinct advantages. However, to effectively navigate the potential pitfalls and maximise the return on investment, brands must approach TV advertising strategically. This is where factors like ad creativity, scheduling, budgeting, and multi-platform integration come into play. Plus, partnering with a TV ad agency that works for you.

Are you ready to unlock the power of TV advertising for your brand? At Fall Off The Wall, we’re experts at crafting compelling, cost-effective TV ad campaigns that resonate with audiences and deliver results. Whether you’re a small business dipping your toes in TV advertising or a medium-sized business looking to scale up your efforts, we’ll work with you to create a TV ad campaign tailored to your needs. Don’t just add to the noise—make your brand stand out.

Reach out to us today to start your journey towards impactful TV advertising.


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Author - Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at Fall Off The Wall, a forward-thinking TV advertising & creative production agency in the UK. Jamie Smith is an experienced Creative Director with a demonstrated history of working in the DRTV marketing and advertising industry.