Why does TV work?

Here are five reasons why TV advertising is in such good health.

1. Television delivers audience

Between 2010 and 2018, adult impacts in the UK have remained remarkably stable – in fact, they’ve actually increased, from 867.4m to 873.6m (BARB).

Among the 16-34-year-old demographic, impacts have fallen from 203.5m to 158.1m (BARB).

2. TV commands attention

The rise of ad-free, subscription-based television platforms has been taken as proof that advertiser-funded television is on the wane. 

But this viewing and these subscriptions are incremental, not substitutional. While 2018 can boast record subscriptions in the UK to Netflix (9.1m) and Amazon Prime (4.8m), the same is true of subscriptions to the three leading pay TV cable and satellite platforms, all of which carry advertiser-funded channels: Sky, Virgin Media, and BT Sport (15.1m).

3. TV dominates spend

The spend behind television advertising is reliable and robust. In 2010, advertisers in the U.K. invested £4.1bn in TV advertising. In 2017 – following the great recession of 2008-2010 and its medium-term consequences – the figure had risen to £4.8bn.

4. TV delivers the best efficiency

Across every sector and every category, the ROI data indicate that television is the most efficient media available to advertisers. TV delivers the strongest ROI in the short term (£1.73 for every £1 invested), more than radio (£1.61), print (£1.44), online video (£1.21), online display (£0.82), and out-of-home (£0.57). Short-term – for campaigns measured in weeks and up to six months – ROI is holding up. In 2008, TV’s ROI was £1.70, whereas today it’s £1.73.

5. TV is the most effective medium

No other medium delivers ROI at scale or offers as strong profit return as television, enhancing profit better than any other channel. In a major meta-analysis of almost 2,000 campaigns by major brands from 2009 to 2016, our Profit Ability study for Thinkbox found that television delivers 71% of profit return of all advertising investments, despite accounting for just 54% of total spend.


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