The Different Types of TV Ads Explained

Jul 13, 2022 / Industry Insights / FOTW

Since the launch of the world’s first TV advertisement in 1941, television is one of the oldest platforms for advertising that still remains strong to this day. Thanks to its unique properties, TV ads have the potential to connect with large audiences and maintain their attention. TV advertising has also proven itself as a reliable sales conversion medium by consistently generating great returns on investment (ROI) with its profitability expected to continue growing in the years to come.

One of the keys to unlocking the potential of TV advertising is to hire a great TV advertising agency that will be able to guide you through the ins and outs of creating the right commercial for your company or brand. Surely you’ve turned on the telly recently and noticed that there are all sorts of advertisements on TV, so what types of TV advertising are available, and what are they exactly? Before we get into all the types of commercials on TV, let’s quickly talk about the few types of television formats that are currently available on the market.


How Are TV Ads Normally Delivered?


Source: Cox Media

Although technically all television advertisements are delivered on TV, with the modern age there are actually a number of different avenues to which they can be delivered. The introduction of services like CTV, VOD, BVOD and SVOD alongside streaming services have greatly expanded the opportunities that marketers can utilise in order to make the best of their specific marketing campaigns.

In a nutshell, there are two “types of TV” in which businesses are able to broadcast their advertisements. These “types of TV” are Traditional and Advanced, with the latter type of “TV” being further subdivided into two additional categories, namely Programmatic and Addressable. Let’s delve a little deeper into the specifics of each of these mediums that are used to deliver advertisements for television:

Traditional TV

Traditional TV is exactly what it sounds like. Also known as “Linear TV,” traditional TV is how TV would be consumed before the onslaught of streaming services and covers “terrestrial,” “satellite” and “cable” channels. On traditional TV, there are a number of different channels that will have a specific line-up of programmes with a pre-determined, specific schedule. Linear TV, for the most part, would also feature advertisement breaks before, during and after TV shows are airing – essentially “ad breaks” that will feature a couple of minutes worth of advertisements from different brands and companies. 

With traditional TV ad-buying specifically, marketers are required to purchase specific “spots” to air their advertisements in advance and this method tends to rely on the rating of TV shows to determine the “best slot”. As such, advertising on traditional TV is also quite broad in the sense that one could only roughly determine the demographics of people watching at any time of day compared to Advanced TV advertising.

Advanced TV

Source: MRI Simmons

Before getting into the types of advertising available on Advanced TV, it is important to firstly introduce what it is in the first place. Advanced TV is the technical successor to traditional TV and is the more modern method of delivering television programming. In general, it’s a blanket term that covers all forms of non-traditional TV and relates to any type of television that isn’t delivered through cable, satellite or terrestrial methods.

The terms “Connected TV” (CTV), “Interactive TV” (ITV), “Linear Addressable TV,” “Over-the-Top” (OTT), and “Video on Demand” (VOD) are all examples of different kinds of “Advanced TV” (VOD). There are two different ways that advertisements can be placed on Advanced TV:

Programmatic TV

One type of Advanced TV is called Programmatic TV. This refers to the ability to purchase advertising spots according to a predetermined formula in a similar vein to buying Google Ads. It relies on digital tools to determine the best way to create and utilise marketing content, like TV ads, and provides a way to better target a specific audience. 

Advertising spots on Programmatic TV can be purchased, programmatically or non-programmatically, through a network or directly from providers like Netflix or Channel 4, depending on the type of placement desired. On the other hand, it does not provide quite the same level of pinpoint accuracy as the second type of advanced TV, which is known as addressable TV.

Addressable TV

An even more highly targeted method of TV advertising is Addressable TV. This method of advertisement distribution provides advertisers with the ability to target specific households with their advertisements. An example of this would be two different households watching the latest episode Countdown, but during the ad breaks within the programming, they are shown different advertisements depending on the general demographic of their household.

Addressable TV is able to achieve this as different households watch a live TV programme via the internet, providing a unique data perspective through their behavioural, demographical and geographical data. The biggest advantage of advertising through Addressable TV is that there’s a reduction in wasted level.

Every Type of TV Ad


Source: Financial Express

As you may have been able to tell after an hour of watching TV, there are plenty of different types of TV advertising out there. While there isn’t a “perfect” type of television ad, you should consider making the most of the opportunity and selecting the type of television ad that is not only suitable for the brand that you’re marketing, but one that is sure to appeal to your audience, too. 

In general, there are two kinds of TV advertising – long-term and short-term – which are then further broken down into over 10 different types that can be utilised to fulfil those purposes according to the needs of the marketing campaign. Here’s a non-extensive list of the different types of TV advertising that tend to be broadcasted:


Before-and-After Ad


Also known as the “Demo Ad,” these are generally the types of TV advertising that you’ll see for almost any laundry detergent brand out there. Sometimes even dishwashing liquid and pharmaceutical brands or weight-loss programmes will utilise this type of ad.

What these types of television ads do is show potential customers the “power” of their product or service. For example, detergent ads like Persil or Ariel will start their commercial featuring a terribly stained shirt or t-shirt, but with the help of the detergent being advertised, bingo-presto the stain will disappear with the shirt looking as good as new – and smells great, too!


Comparison Ad


This is another type of commercial on TV that is often used by detergent companies, as well as shampoo brands and service companies like mobile phone providers. The “Comparison Ad” allow brands and companies to showcase why their product or service is far superior to their competitors – whether directly or indirectly.

One company that targets its competitors indirectly is Dove. The brand tends to do this by showcasing a generic, unlabelled shampoo bottle next to a bottle of Dove shampoo before moving onwards to animated graphics that boast how Dove shampoo definitely takes care of their customer’s hair while the others do not. A famous Comparison Ad campaign that was more direct in nature were the “Mac vs PC” series of commercials where Apple directly compared its Mac and Macbook systems to a generic “PC” archetype – with a total of 66 ads in the series!


Unique Personality Property Ad


The Unique Personality Property type of television ad focuses on one or more unique selling points (USP) of a company’s product or service. These types of commercials on TV tend to be favoured by technology companies like Samsung, Dyson and Apple to showcase their latest products. Tackling this type of TV ad requires a company’s marketing department to answer a simple question: what makes the product or service stand out from the competition? It also needs to give the audience of the ad a reason for needing the product or service; how it can solve their woes better than anyone else.

A great example that you may have seen on the telly is the animated Sky Mobile “Roll and Share Your Data” ad. This was a form of direct response TV ad that featured the ability of the mobile service’s users to carry forward any excess data to following months whenever you choose when you add another sim onto your plan, so you can share your data with other family members.


Analogy Ad


These kinds of ads tend to use exaggerated imagery or symbolism to showcase how they can solve a need, or to prove a point in regards to their product or service. Analogy Ads tend to allow the most space for creativity and tends to showcase humour alongside giving the company an avenue to showcase their own “personality”.

Two very well-known ad campaigns have utilised the Analogy Ad format to great success. One of them is Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial that went on to find viral success online. Old Spice targeted female audiences and utilised the “hunky” Isaiah Mustafa as a visual analogy of what their male partners could smell like if they used Old Spice body wash. The other ad campaign was Mercedes-Benz’s “Intelligent Drive” campaign that showcased the stability features of their Intelligent Drive sensor system through the use of chickens as their heads remain stable despite their bodies being moved in different directions. 


Exemplary Ad


The Exemplary Ad is one of the types of TV commercials that has a strict focus on what a product or service can do to solve a problem. These usually focuses on the after effects of using the product or service, whether real or imaginary, that can only be enjoyed by the product or service that is being advertised. Normally Exemplary Ads are a format that tends to be used by service-focused companies, like banks, insurance or home internet providers.

An example of the Exemplary Ad would be some of the television commercials by WeBuyAnyCar. The brand highlights how relaxed their customers are thanks to the ease and convenience of using the WeBuyAnyCar service to sell their cars as the company touts to “do all the hard work”.


Testimonial Ad


Testimonial Ads are a favourite type of television advertising used by companies around the world that utilises their satisfied customers in their campaign. These commercials tend to feature hired actors or real-life users that directly address the commercial’s viewer and share their positive experiences by using the product or service.

A recent example of the Testimonial Ad would be the Garnier commercial for its brightening and anti-dark spot serum. The ad features a group of youths with different skin types that all give glowing reviews for the product and how it’s helped keep their skin healthy.


Benefit Causes Ad


Benefit Causes Ads are another type of television advertisement that loves to use exaggerated imagery, especially deodorant brands. These types of TV advertising show viewers how using the brand’s specific product or service can lead to something interesting to happen to its user. Usually making a good TV ad using this format needs the use of something extraordinary to make it stick.

The best example of these types of TV advertisement are the ones by the deodorant brand Lynx (or Axe in the US). Regardless of how a man may look, whether hunky or geeky, the commercials love to showcase how using the brand’s deodorant will instantly lead to hordes of women chasing after them.


Solve-the-Problem Ad


Another common type of television advertisement is the “Solve-the-Problem” ad. This type of TV advertising is used by almost every industry out there for its simplicity. These tend to start off by showcasing a problem, like a flat-tyre, smelly sheets or bad skin, before demonstrating how the advertised product or service can solve that specific problem.

A great example of a Solve-the-Problem ad would be those by Gaviscon. As a medicine brand that helps with heartburn and indigestion, the Gaviscon ads tend to feature someone who has eaten something that didn’t sit quite right and as a result, is suffering from stomach pains. But thanks to Gaviscon, whether it’s the chewable tablets or the drinkable liquid, you’ll be good as new in no time.


Celebrity Feature Ad

These types of TV advertising are also sometimes called “Celebrity Endorsement” or “Character Endorsement” Ads. This is one of the most expensive yet, when utilised correctly, highly engaging types of TV commercials out there, and is used by nearly every industry. These ads could star a slew of celebrities, from actors, singers or even footballers, and sometimes even characters from highly popular TV shows or films.

One well-beloved Nutella advertisement featured members of the German National Football team enjoying their breakfasts of a slice of toast, with Nutella spread on top. Closer to home, some of the recent Head & Shoulders advertisements featured on TV star Britain’s own Claudia Winkleman while some ads from Sky Broadband took the opportunity to feature the Minions from the film Despicable Me.


Parody Ad


Parody advertisements tend to utilise humour to its absolute maximum by either centring its theme around a popular film or current trends, or by poking fun at the style of the brand’s competitor. Sometimes these types of television commercials would spoof reality shows, like Love Island, or pretend to be a breaking news report.

One infamous commercial was Volkswagen’s commercial for their Passat, showcased at the 2012 Super Bowl. The commercial heavily used popular aspects of Star Wars to advertise the then brand-new car. It revolved around a family’s child dressed up as Darth Vader and trying to wreak havoc on the household by trying to “use the Force”, to Vader’s famous “Imperial March” theme.


Associated User Imagery Ad


These are similar to some of the previous types of TV advertising, but unlike Celebrity Feature Ads, the Associated User Imagery type of advertisement uses characters designed by the brand or seeks to associate common stereotypes with their product.

For example, the household cleaning brand Mr Clean will feature its mascot – a large, bald man in a bright white t-shirt – within its commercials. When a housewife uses any of the cleaning products, “Mister Clean” will appear and take over the cleaning duties, leaving the house absolutely spotless.


Even though there are a lot of different types of TV commercials that a company can choose from in order to market their product, not all of these TV commercial types are going to be appropriate for the product that is being discussed here. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, you need to include television commercials as part of your marketing strategy if you want to get the most out of it.

Choosing the right type of TV commercial for your product isn’t easy, especially making one that’s effective. Companies considering creating a TV ad for their upcoming campaign should hire a great advertising agency that can help you decide what the best style of commercial is to suit your product or service, according to your budgetary needs.


Do you want to know more about how we can help with your TV advertising? If so, give us a call on 01582 881144 or drop us a line at We’d love to chat.

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.