The Association of Commercial Television


The biggest ads from the biggest brands in big TV moments used to be dominated by cars, candy, and beer. Now—like everything else—it’s Big Tech.

For 32 years, USA Today’s Ad Meter has measured the popularity of Super Bowl ads, and this year’s list looked different than ever before.

Google nabbed the No. 3 spot, Amazon No. 7, and Microsoft No. 9. Even Facebook, which ranked much lower at No. 39, was airing its first-ever Super Bowl spot but still managed to beat out such TV ad stalwarts as GMC, Audi, Coke, and Pepsi.

Seemingly out of nowhere (although after years of building up to it), Big Tech has finally become the kind of major TV-advertiser class that used to be the sole domain of legacy brands—those TV ad staples in such popular categories as autos, beer, and candy. For most of their history, these companies scoffed at traditional media. Can’t measure it, can’t convert viewers into customers, not enough real-time data. Yet here are the 21st century’s most dominant brands behaving like their counterparts of the late 20th, using TV as a key tool to build image and consumer loyalty. Taking a half-step back, this development is a bit rich given that other than Microsoft, these are companies whose businesses are working, through digital advertising dominance and streaming content, essentially to destroy the modern TV industry.

The Super Bowl and most other high-profile TV opportunities like the Oscars and Grammys are now where the biggest tech companies go to forge the kind of emotional relationship with consumers that helps prevent us from becoming too critical, too nervous, and too creeped out by their actions.

It could not have been scripted better.


Microsoft was one of the biggest TV ad spenders in tech last year, shelling out half a billion dollars. On its Surface brand alone, the company boosted ad spending by almost 20%, to an estimated $219.1 million, according to measurement firm iSpot.

Amazon spent more than $1.25 billion overall in 2019, boosting TV ad spending for Prime, for example, by a massive 487% to hit about $210 million. Also notable for Amazon, it more than doubled TV ad spending on its home security system Ring, hitting about $79 million in 2019, compared with $32 million in 2018. Given that the company was recently accused of providing user data to Facebook and other companies without making Ring users aware that their data was being shared, adding to its other privacy scandals, it’s going to need all the brand loyalty it can muster.

Facebook is the smallest of the big tech companies, and it correspondingly spent just $300 million on TV marketing last year, with more than half of it, according to iSpot, going to burnish Facebook’s brand.


After Google ran its Super Bowl ad on Sunday night, Twitter lit up with posts about its emotional effectiveness.

„How long is it supposed to take to stop crying from the Google commercial?“

Microsoft received similar kudos for its ad profiling 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, which hit the perfect balance of product, brand, and a message of female empowerment that Secret and Olay, both of which have been marketing to women for as long as they’ve existed, couldn’t manage to find.

Amazon was back at its goofy celebrity best, this time teaming with Ellen DeGeneres to wonder what life was like before Alexa.

And then Facebook dropped in with an homage to eclectic Groups, with a side dish of Sly Stallone and Chris Rock.

All the game needed to have a Big Tech full house was Apple, but even Cupertino managed to launch a new spot yesterday for its Arcade video game subscription service.

Anyone wondering why the planet’s biggest and most successful tech and digital media companies are increasingly turning to good old-fashioned TV ads need look no further for a reason than what comedian and talk-show host Desus of Desus and Mero had to say:

u can tell how evil a company is by how touching their super bowl ad attempts to be“

As I wrote on Sunday, Facebook made its users the focus of its Super Bowl ad to draw as much attention as possible away from its myriad of corporate issues. Each of the companies chose the largest advertising stage and its most strategic products—Facebook Groups, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft Surface, Google Search—as the device with which to build a narrative and emotional connection with users.

Back in 2018, Google CMO Lorraine Twohill heralded the brand’s ads “Parisian Love” (which became Google’s first-ever Super Bowl ad) and “Dear Sophie” as the spark for what’s become the company’s strategy around humanizing its products and itself. When she joined the company in 2009, the marketing formula was more tech nerd than Mad Men and went something like this: We have to launch a new product, here’s a blog post, and here is a video of the product manager explaining its features. Please watch the video.

“In the early days, we had a Chrome digital-only campaign, which was about three things: safety, simplicity, and speed. Very rational,” said Twohill. “That did get us so far, but no one gets out of bed in the morning and says, ‘I need a new browser.’ What changed the game for us was to go out and create ‘The web is what you make of it,’ which is essentially a brand campaign about people using the web to make their lives better.”

Replace “web” with soap, cars, beer, insurance, or burgers and it becomes pretty clear that these companies we see as among the most innovative in the world still rely upon some of the most hardy advertising tropes in existence. Amazon’s humor is no different than VW in 2011’s “The Force” that charmed us all just before the company’s reputation imploded under the emissions scandal. Or how Snickers uses it to avoid us looking too closely at the sustainability and labor challenges of the chocolate industry. Facebook’s Groups spot is the direct descendant of any commercial gleefully celebrating human gathering, from McDonald’s “You Deserve A Break Today” back in the ’80s, to the longstanding idea of Miller Time.

Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad was fantastic, but let’s face it, the point was Sowers’s story and her accomplishment, not a tablet computer, and could’ve easily been a spot for paper towels. Kind of like P&G’s long-running “Thank You, Mom” Olympic campaign. And while Google’s “Loretta” expertly uses its own products to make those human connections, it hinges on tying human connection and emotion to the brand, a tactic perfected in spots like Coke’s classic “Hilltop” and Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.”

Back then, we were being charmed by companies that we knew—or had some sense—that they were connected to such serious problems as obesity, pollution, addiction, and more. Those, of course, still remain, but say what you want about beer or fast-food burgers, they don’t lead to issues of data privacy and misinformation, among others.

The emotional connections forged by these ads seek to paper over all of that, at least for 30 seconds at a time.

Oh, and add in a CEO tweet for good measure.

„I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% @lizzo’s biggest fan.“


These challenges—and Big Tech’s need to cultivate as much goodwill as possible—aren’t going anywhere, so expect this type of TV ad spending to continue to grow, at least until they actually do kill broadcast TV. This will be most acute during major events like the Super Bowl, Oscars, World Series, and anywhere else our fragmented media culture manages to come together in anything even remotely resembling a collective cultural experience. The more we love their ads, the more likely we’ll be to buy and use their products, and therefore less likely to address potential concerns, vote to have monopolies broken up, or otherwise question their motives.

On the bright side, though, at least Big Tech didn’t try to sell us a baby peanut.



A multi-platform approach is essential in successfully targeting auto buyers. But it’s important to remember that, when it comes to reaching those potential buyers, TV advertising still tops the list. If your auto client is considering scaling back on their television media buy, then they’re in danger of missing out on the most important aspect of the auto buyer’s purchase journey. It’s a choice that could end up costing them way more than it saves.

Automotive continues to be one of the largest category spenders in media, and if your client wants a piece of that sizeable revenue, you need to catch the potential customer at the beginning of their buying cycle. Today’s auto buyer experiences three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Targeting prospective buyers early, specifically through television advertising, pays the highest dividends.

Data-driven linear and addressable TV advertisinglet you target with precision, getting your client’s car ad or dealership spot in front of the right buyer. Add any other addressable targeting to the mix, such as OTT or live streaming, and you can reach the auto customer wherever and whenever they watch content. If you don’t put your client in front of the auto buyer early enough, the campaign is likely to run out of gas before it even gets on the road. Here’s why:

The Awareness Stage: The first step in the auto buyer cycle is when prospective customers begin to realize they will soon need a new car. This is brought on by anything from a lifestyle change, such as expanding one’s family, to experiencing one-too-many trips to the mechanic, to reaching the end of a lease.

Whatever the catalyst, this is when prospective auto buyers start to keep an eye on their options, contemplating what kind of car they’re going to purchase. Considering the multitude of choices, this can feel like an overwhelming endeavor. Where do they start? TV ads.

The Consideration Stage: Once the prospective auto buyer starts to consider their options, they begin to take notice of what they see in TV commercials. According to the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) “Start Your Engines” report, TV ranks first in helping consumers form their consideration list. In fact, of those who were surveyed, 45 percent of buyers ages 25–54 and 46 percent of buyers ages 18–34, reported that TV ads helped them select the make, model, and dealerships they planned to explore. Additionally, a considerable 76 percent of auto manufacturers stated a definitive correlation between TV spend and website traffic.

The Forbes article “TV Advertising Remains Huge Sales Motivator for Car Buyers, Even in Digital Era: Study” included an interview with Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of VAB, who spoke about the importance of TV advertising in relation to digital traffic. “The truth is that TV and digital work together very well,” said Cunningham. “TV has done a good job of fueling digital, which does an especially good job with dealer offerings…. When you need to mobilize customers en masse, in a tight timeframe…, TV is going to light up their online instruments and fill dealer showrooms with traffic.”

Here at NYI, one of our leading auto manufacturer clients ran a campaign focused on raising awareness and sales for a specific line of vehicles being sold in the New York market. Their objective was to reach the TV and digital consumers most likely to buy the vehicles. The results showed that households exposed to both TV and digital ads delivered the highest conversion rate — a 131 percent incremental sales lift — with sales revenue of $4 million and an ROI of $10.46 for every dollar spent.

If the bulk of marketing dollars is exclusively spent on digital advertising, they could likely miss the all-important consideration phase where the auto buyer is narrowing their options. Plus, when you add the ability to target consumers directly through addressable and linear advertising, you’re steering buyers directly toward your client’s brand or dealership.

Translation: Media buyers need to put a client’s brand in front of the auto customer during the consideration stage. TV advertising — both addressable and data-driven linear — is the key to getting prospective buyers to pursue a specific brand or dealership.

The Decision Stage: Finally, the auto buyer wraps up their online research, visits dealerships, goes out for test drives, reviews financials, and makes their purchase. Knowledge of the process and the ability to target help make this a win-win for all involved.

So, if you want to drive up revenue for your auto client, remember the cycle of the consumer’s journey. Digital is important, but it’s also important to lock in your TV media buy if you want to make sure that your client’s campaign is fully loaded.



AKA (Association of Communications Agencies) published its annual report on advertising for 2019.

In 2019, CZK 119.5 billion were invested in advertising in the Czech Republic. This is an expert estimate of net marketing spend based on a research conducted among advertisers by AKA in cooperation with Nielsen Admosphere last March. It is 5% more than last year’s 113.5 billion. “The shift is slightly above inflation and was reported for the fourth time in a row, which indicates that the industry is doing well,” said Marek Hlavica, Director of AKA, at today’s presentation of the latest figures. 

The media (including traditional media types, such as TV, radio, outdoor ads and display advertising on the Internet) to non-media (other Internet advertising including searching, social networks or cooperation with influencers plus point-of-sale ads, PR or events) marketing investment ratio remains about the same, i.e. fifty-fifty. More precise figures on non-media investments are expected to be available in spring.

“TV is still the leader among media channels and despite the increasing spend on digital, for the time being there is no risk that the Internet might soon overcome traditional channels on the local market,” said AKA. In price list comparison, TV has grown by 8% year-on-year, i.e. faster than other traditional media types, such as press, radio and outdoor ads. “A comparable growth dynamics is reported by non-media forms of communication, such as promotion events, direct marketing, social networks and content marketing, or consumer competitions,” concluded industry representatives.

In terms of media spend,, Kaufland and Lidl are the three major advertisers of the year again, just their ranking changed compared to the previous year – the two German brick-and-mortar retailers were outperformed by the largest local e-shop. The top 10 of the major media advertisers includes Billa (which spent 65% more on communication than in the previous year) and Internet Mall; apart from traders, the highest ranks were achieved exclusively by food and fast-moving goods producers. “Sazka is the only exception in the top ten. Our effort to find prior years’ champions – mobile operators and banks – in the ranking would have been vain for several years,“ said AKA.

In AKA’s opinion, this year the industry will discuss regulation of alcohol advertising, development of a Professional Communication Platform (refer to below), awareness initiatives against disinformation directed at advertisers, efforts to win support for creative industries from relevant ministries through the Czech Chamber of Commerce and, in a dialogue with clients, market standard innovations, specifically methods and models of agency ratings and orchestration of communication tools which keep growing in number.   

Against Disinformation, for Self-Regulation

“There was a merger of several agencies, which, however, did not include any local investment,” reminded Hlavica the recent mergers between Wunderman and JWThompson to establish Wunderman Thompson and between Young & Rubicam and a digital agency, VML, into a new entity, VMLY&R.

Another shift in the industry was the implementation of technical measures to block ad buying on disinformation webs and informing clients accordingly. “Cutting off these sources from digital ad financing is one of the ways to democracy and our industry declares its support for it,” said Hlavica. AKA as one of three national associations of communications agencies in Europe joined the signatories of the Code of Practice on Disinformation. “The fight with disinformation is monitored by the European Commission to which AKA has to report on its activities in this field on a regular basis,” states AKA, which considers the January conference in the Senate as the initial act to be followed by specific practical steps.

The industry may soon be impacted by the efforts of the Ministry of Health intended to regulate alcohol advertising, specifically to reduce the content of advertisements and the time when they are aired. “What the Ministry endeavours to do now is not a realistic solution to a problem with alcohol in the Czech Republic. Nowhere around the world these activities resulted in what the Ministry strives to achieve,” said Hlavica, Director of AKA. AKA tends to seek self-regulation or other awareness campaigns, such as Not Drinking Is Normal. “Unfortunately, our proposals went unheard,” says Hlavica.  

Alcohol advertising should not show living creatures, thinks the Minister of Health. 

Self-regulation has been applied in the industry in respect of marking commercial activities of influencers operating on social networks who are frequent ad carriers. The above-mentioned Professional Communication Platform was established to associate academic institutions (IKSŽ FSV UK), professional organisations (AKA, APRA) and market entities and start to push for self-regulation of the commercial use of influencers. The purpose is to clearly identify any paid content and differentiate it from the editorial one to comply with effective legislation. “SPIR is working on codification that will go through the approval process in the nearest future,” said Jan Binar from McCann, President of AKA, informing on the progress of their efforts.  

For Better Government tenders, Not Only in Brno

Public administration advertisers investing in information campaigns initiated tenders in the amount of CZK 2 billion last year, which was nearly double the prior year’s amount. “Although the Czech Republic fails to achieve the share of communication tenders in the total market as the developed European countries do, i.e. 15-20%, the shift forward is obvious,” thinks the Association.   

Professional associations of local agencies – both communication (AKA) and those focused on public relations (APRA) – have recently made Brno concerned. “There were no problems before but now, they managed to invite a tender for a creative solution at 100% cost. They even declared that if there were multiple highest bids with the same prices, lots would be cast for the winner,” said Lucie Češpivová from Dorland, Chairwoman of the Czech Independent Agencies Section of AKA, referring to the tender in the amount of CZK 10 million invited in Brno for the selection of an agency to communicate parking changes in the city.

“In the past, AKA cooperated with the Municipal Authority of Brno on certain tender documentation to the satisfaction of both parties. The contracting authority is thus well-informed in AKA’s opinion and its current approach is more than surprising. AKA addressed the Municipal Authority of Brno on 12 December to express its objections and offered methodological assistance in making adjustments to the tender documentation. There was no response from the city. Only after having delivered a reminder, we received a response a day before the deadline. The response by the Head of the Transportation Department of the Municipal Authority of Brno did not satisfy us – far from it. Contrary to the published tender documentation, he declared that the engagement did not contain any creative work,” describes Hlavica, Director of AKA. According to the tender documentation, the future supplier is required to make videos, write for the web and participate in the communication strategy.   

Why Aetna No Longer Wants to Work with Brno

Due to the approach adopted by Brno, the local agency Aetna, one of AKA members, has just decided not to continue their cooperation. Aetna received many prizes for its destination campaign called #BrnoTrueStory, including Effie for the most effective communication in public administration. However, it could not continue even though it was the winner of a tender which was held several months after the agreement between the city and the agency had expired.

“A new agency was not selected due to a legal mistake in the tender documentation. It took the city additional six months to invite a new tender together with lawyers. But the problem is that the tender is the same in fact, just with some cosmetic adjustments. Newly, a minimum amount was set, participants are required to prepare a more precise media plan and the formulation of the need to keep the defined brand book is less strict,” said Roman Šťastný, Aetna’s Executive Manager. “Given its very nature, the tender cannot be fair. And what is more important, time is flying and has no mercy. If the city does not mind to thwart its investment we have to come to terms with it. Fourteen months have elapsed between the agreement termination and the tender deadline. We can see such a critical gap in consistent brand building that there is nearly nothing to continue with. You can’t but start from scratch again. That is what we let other people do. We are so proud of Brno brand book that we wouldn’t change a single thing. We considered it to be a document that would survive and consolidate communication for the years to come – we didn’t mean it to be a template for a one-year campaign.”

“The recent approach of Brno to communication public tenders is unfortunate. Brno acts to its own detriment, i.e. regardless of all the people who are committed to providing the city with professional and effective communication,” highlights AKA.  

“Performance Marketing Got Depleted”

How do industry professionals look at the development of ad spend in future? “I can’t see any downsides. Brexit is a local issue in a way. For the Czech Republic it is an opportunity if we have enough offices. We also need more confidence. What the Netherlands or Scandinavia are able to do that we can manage as well if we want to,” anticipates Petr Chajda, Leader of Dentsu Aegis in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Chairman of the ASMEA Committee (Association of Media Agencies). In retail consumption, Chajda can see advertisers’ optimism in respect of media ad spend. David Čermák from Momentum Praha, Chairman of the Activation Agency Section of AKA, confirms the optimistic outlook, stating that non-media investments will increase by 5-7%, same as last year.

“The conversion cushion of performance marketing got depleted and a brand combat at the storytelling level has just started,” thinks Jan Binar based on discussions with clients. He can feel that advertisers have more courage to take a healthy risk in communication.   

“Brands invest in their values in order to build their positions for less favourable times. The brand value provides producers with more room for manoeuvre at times when sales go down and competition escalates,” adds Hlavica, Director of AKA.

What Agencies Expect from Research

“We as media agencies will bring TV research into a sharp focus,” said Ondřej Novák, Chairman of ASMEA, responding to Médiář’s question. “At the same time, it is obvious that the “non-TV” part of research which is able to reflect the trends of non-linear online video content consumption in measurement (such as timeshifted viewing, HbbTV, IPTV, mobile viewing) will rise in importance. As media agencies, we would like to have consistent and comprehensive video content measurement across platforms and individual devices at hand, i.e. including all quantities that are important for media planning. In terms of technology and methodology, TV research goes full steam ahead of other common currencies and is on the top in Europe.”      

“Unfortunately, it is benchmarked with other currencies – Media Projekt, Radioprojekt and, to some extent, NetMonitor. Their quality is high, they have cutting-edge methodologies (after all, Media Projekt is the longest continuous research ever conducted in the Czech Republic, including sociological surveys; it has been carried out since 1994) but their practical importance for the sector is questionable for various reasons. At least in case of Radioprojekt – although we perceive the changes in ownership taking place on the radio market and we do not play them down – certain (at least ideological) direction to real measurement, which is by far not unusual in Europe, would be worth following.”  

And what about the Internet measuring? “The first problem is the definition of the Internet and what should be measured. Online environment has an essential generic problem – the field of measurement is nearly infinite. An important aspect for agencies is that records should include crucial players – Google, social networks, YouTube. In general, there is an enormous global problem to include these players in measurement just because they don’t need or want to. Even though the playfield is marked out, another issue is what to measure there – display, RTB? Or quantities such as impressions, Internet GRP? It will be complicated to make up measurement that will be helpful for everyone. Prospectively (which I emphasize), we tend to see a possible way out in a platform, such as video content consumption, on which measurements might mingle and industry associations might cooperate because this may be what major players in all positions – media, agencies, advertisers – might need. However, we are not living in an ideal world and there are plenty of business interests.”    



In 2019, TV aired more ads again in the Czech Republic with ad spots going up in price. According to Nielsen Admosphere,, the Czech largest e-shop, was the most powerful advertiser of the year.

The leading advertiser in 2019 was, the largest local e-shop spending on ads nearly CZK 1.8 billion, thus outstripping the previous year’s number one, Kaufland, and number two, Lidl. Kaufland, ranked second this year, placed ads in the amount of 1.7 billion in the media and was followed by Lidl on the third place with its spend exceeding 1.5 billion. The following positions were taken by Sazka, Procter & Gamble, Ferrero ČR, Nestlé, Henkel, Internet Mall and Billa while Unilever, Mountfield and L’Oréal dropped off the top 10 last year.

This results from the latest figures of Nielsen Admosphere’s monitoring. The data show price list costs, advertisers’ real spend is usually lower.

Top 10 advertisers by the price list value of ad space, 2019

Ranking Advertiser Spend 1.80
Kaufland Česká republika 1.65
Lidl Česká republika 1.50
Sazka 1.36
Procter & Gamble International Operations 1.18
Ferrero Česká 1.16
Nestlé Česko 1.10
Henkel ČR 1.06
Internet Mall 1.05
10  Billa 1.03

In CZK billion. Rounded. Excluding the companies’ own advertising. Source: Nielsen Admosphere

TV continues to be the strongest media type in terms of advertising and it made its position even safer last year as the TV ad spend increased by 8% to CZK 57.4 billion. The amount of press advertising grew by 1% last year to 19.8 billion. By contrast, radio advertising decreased by 1% to 7.9 billion. Outdoor ads rose by 3% to CZK 5.4 billion.

“With a significant lead, TV keeps its position of the most powerful local media type. In aggregate, TV companies once again aired more ads and increased their prices,” said Tomáš Hynčica from Nielsen Admosphere.

Price list value of ad space, CZK billion

Media type 2018 2019 Difference
TV 53.1 57.4 8 %
Press 19.6 19.8 1 %
Radio 8.0 7.9 -1 %
Outdoor 5.3 5.4 3 %

Rounded. Excluding the companies’ own advertising. Source: Nielsen Admosphere

In the forthcoming weeks, the media type ranking will be completed with the Internet data, published as usual by the Association for Internet Development (SPIR). The Internet is also expected to grow. “The total value of advertising in the Czech media is assumed to be about CZK 120 billion in 2019,” said Nielsen Admosphere. In the previous year (2018), the amount exceeded 113 billion.



It’s a new decade. Or is it? It depends on how you like your decades. Is the old one finished or is that not until the end of 2020? ‘Who cares you pedantic twat, Clay?’ you might ask.

Fair enough, but 2020 is certainly a good moment to reflect. And why not reflect on some of the myriad myths about TV and TV advertising that still swirl about in industry discourse?

So, here is a handy guide of what to say when people accidentally regurgitate nonsense about TV….

Online advertising is better than TV

Let’s start with one of the oldest chestnuts (not quite as prevalent as it once was, true, but it still makes an appearance.) It should be enough to point out that tonnes of TV advertising is watched online – TV is online advertising. But, if that doesn’t work, pointing out that there is no such thing as online advertising to compare TV to can help. Online advertising is a fruit salad of many forms of marketing investment – including search, email and, the juiciest fruit of all, TV.

TV’s just about brand building

TV is certainly excellent at turning products into brands thanks to its scale and emotional connection with viewers. But TV is a marketer’s Swiss Army knife. Its brand-building blades are razor-sharp, but it has the magnifying glass, the corkscrew, and the tweezers too.

TV is increasingly sophisticated at the bottom end of the purchase funnel, delivering massive short-term impact and innovative data-led solutions (see below). In the first two weeks of a campaign, TV delivers an average of 23% of the media-driven sales, the most of any demand-generating media, according to econometric analysis by Gain Theory, Wavemaker and Mediacom. Only TV’s best mate, online search, does slightly more in the same amount of time. Look at the number of online brands on TV to see how much they value both its brand and activation qualities.

TV advertising is old fashioned

TV is 100% digital. You can watch it and advertise in and around it on any screen in every environment. And that advertising is transforming. I can’t think of many industries that are more vibrant or driving more change than TV advertising. As TV becomes a mass addressable medium, no other addressable video ad offering comes close. TV’s advanced advertising solutions are fuelled by willingly-given first-party data which can be data-matched with advertisers’ own customer data. TV can now surpass other online advertising for targeting, but in a high quality, proven brand-safe environment. And rich contextual tools are giving advertisers access to perfect programming environments: AI is being used to allow DIY retailers to access specific TV episodes where characters are redecorating, for example.

If you still think TV is old fashioned, then perhaps you’ve had too many Old Fashioneds.

TV advertising is pricey

This is all about cost vs. value. Buying a great car may seem pricey, but you get what you pay for. In fact, with TV, you actually get more than you pay for because advertisers only pay for the audience they have bought, but most TV viewing is shared so they get loads of extra viewers thrown in for free (and broad reach is what builds brands). The reverse is true in other online advertising btw; there, advertisers must pay for every exposure, whether they are in-target or not.

The truth is that TV has been incredible value for years. Look at the effectiveness evidence – it delivers 71% of total profit generated by advertising (on 54% of the spend), and it does so at the greatest efficiency (a profit ROI of £4.20), and for the least risk.

TV sometimes suffers because competitors seem cheaper. But there is often a huge gap between perception and reality. Take the respective cost of online video and TV advertising: online video accounts for just 4% of the time people spend watching video advertising yet gets 26% of all video ad spend. TV accounts for 95% of ad viewing but gets 70% of ad spend. Based on ad spend figures from the Advertising Association, the average cost across TV advertising (linear and BVOD) for 30 seconds is just over £6. For non-broadcaster online video, it goes up to £45.

So, the potentially brand unsafe, often small screen, often partially viewable world of online video costs advertisers 7 times more than TV. And that is just the cost – the quantity – it doesn’t consider the vast differences in the quality of the ad exposures, nor the relative effectiveness.

Netflix is replacing TV

Netflix is TV, it just doesn’t offer advertising (yet) or live viewing (yet).

No one can doubt the incredible rise of the subscription streamers, though. But, equally, no one should underestimate the resilience and popularity of the broadcasters. In the UK, Subscription VOD (SVOD) accounts for around 10% of video viewing in total. Broadcaster TV is two thirds of it.

Even the biggest Netflix fans also watch plenty of broadcaster TV – they just love TV generally. And studies by Ofcom and MTM agree that UK broadcasters have a distinct competitive advantage over the global SVOD services because of their expertise in the British content that Brits love.

It might be worth Netflix considering adding a live TV string to its bow as that is part of what drives so much broadcaster viewing. There are needs that watching TV/video satisfies, but some needs are better served by on-demand, some by live TV. For example, on-demand is brilliant for losing ourselves in other worlds. Think Game of Thrones. But on-demand can’t satisfy all the things live TV does, especially our more social/communal needs, which are so important. Think The Great British Bake Off, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Our of Here, or live sport.

Young people don’t watch TV

Yes, Love Island is horribly unpopular, isn’t it? Hardly makes a dent on the front pages.

The fact is that young people do not watch as much linear TV as they once did. But don’t judge their attitude towards TV on just that. That would be like judging Serena Williams by her incredible backhand alone or David Attenborough just by his coverage of penguins. There’s a lot more to it.

Watching TV makes up well over half of 16 – 34 year-old’s video diet, most of it is broadcaster TV, and most of that is watching linear TV. But because an increasing amount of it isn’t linear viewing is why it is now essential that we plan TV advertising across all TV. No advertiser bases performance on high street sales alone; TV shouldn’t be treated any differently.

TV is only for big brands

They often end up big, but they don’t always start that way – over 1,000 advertisers on TV in 2018 spent less than £50k (2019 data isn’t in yet, but the story will be the same). And TV creates the majority of smaller businesses’ advertising-generated sales, some 80% according to Data2Decisions’ client data.

TV supercharges smaller businesses because it creates new customers, which is what needs to happen once the effects of online activation plateau. TV rapidly drives sales, dramatically grows the customer base, increases trust, and creates fame.

The dawn of advanced TV advertising means getting on TV is becoming ever easier for advertisers of all sizes. From Sky’s AdSmart – which has encouraged more than 1,000 businesses to use TV for the first time – to the range of opportunities on the ITV Hub and All4, and funding initiatives such as UKTV Ventures, TV’s increasing flexibility means it is available to businesses of all sizes. They just need to be ready to grow.



Videonet has published detailed accounts about each of the big takeaways from Future TV Advertising Global 2019, and you can see links to those stories at the bottom (click on the original link at the bottom). Here is a summary of our analysis.

No.1: Television is back on the offensive

When it comes to competing for advertising budgets in an increasingly data-driven world, television has been on the back-foot for more than five years. Some people think the ad-supported version of this medium is dying. But it looks like we have already passed peak disruption in markets where media owners are transforming their ad capabilities with better audience segmentation, targeting, attribution and even measurement. This was the first Future TV Advertising event when the determination to win back budget that has shifted to digital was expressed so forcefully and so often, and it feels like the television advertising ‘recovery’ has moved to the next level. The television industry has switched from defence to attack. We need to recognise this moment.

No.2: It’s not a question of if you follow the 60:40 rule, just how you implement it

Nobody is arguing with the conclusions reached by Les Binet (who spoke at the event) and Peter Field in their now-famous effectiveness studies (harnessing the vast resources of the IPA Databank) that you need to spend 60% of budget on brand advertising and 40% on activation to optimise campaign effectiveness (all sector average). Not one person at this event challenged their work – not on the panels, not from the audience. Binet & Field, and others who have supported their findings, have won the argument. There will be a rebalancing of budget which will lead towards more brand spending. The only question is how it will be done – that was the debate at this London conference.

No.3: Addressable TV is coming fast, complementing rather than replacing ‘national’ ads

It was generally accepted that we can expect an addressable TV stampede as more platform owners and broadcasters adopt the technology, and addressable household reach is expanded. But despite the growing interest in addressable, nobody says it will replace mass-market advertising, as some commentators used to. Addressable is viewed as a complement to ‘national’ (i.e. reaches all) advertising. The most important use-case today is to deliver cost-effective incremental reach, including into light television viewers. The main obstacles preventing an addressable TV stampede are cost, complexity and inertia. There is a groundswell of opinion that we need to start standardising on audience segments across markets.

No.4: Unification of broadcast and digital is everything

This will surprise nobody, but the message was often repeated at The Future of TV Advertising Global because it is just so important: the television industry must demonstrate de-duplicated reach and frequency across broadcast TV and digital, and we have to make it easier to plan, buy and report audiences as a whole, spread across every ‘format’, which means digital (including, importantly, connected TV), broadcast and addressable (addressable is now frequently talked about in its own right, despite spanning both TV and digital).

The siloes have to be broken down and it is also clear that on the sell-side, media owners are going to take what practical steps they can, individually, to enable holistic audience planning and buying even while they support wider industry initiatives towards cross-media standardisation. Small and medium steps are being welcomed, given the difficulty with taking giant strides.

No.5: TV is an activation medium, which makes it a uniquely full-funnel offering

We are going to hear a lot about ‘full-funnel’ media in the next 24 months, and it is the TV industry that will be shouting loudest. There are a few reasons for this: Budget spend will be rebalanced towards more brand building by companies who have neglected this task; Television has successfully argued that it is the undisputed champion of long-term, brand-built, value-add; Television already helps to drive activation, but the digital advertising giants have taken the credit for much of it.

Other reasons are: Television is getting better at the direct attribution of outcomes to advertising exposure that allows it to prove its role in activation; The attribution data is becoming available faster, in time to help optimise live campaigns; The technology that enables that improved attribution is going mainstream fast; The tech vendors who are making short-term attribution easier have a realistic, TV-friendly approach to life, so can fit straight into the existing ecosystem.

No.6: The real magic is data-driven, audience-based buying

This event provided a timely reminder that addressable TV is not the only use of audience-based buying. Another key use-case, which is better known in North America than in Europe, is optimised linear buying. In simple terms, you define the audience target against need-state, interests and lifestyle, etc. and you find which homes these people are living in – as with addressable TV. But rather than seek them out on a one-to-one basis using addressable TV (and so exclude homes that are outside your audience segment), you use set-top box data to figure out what channels and shows this audience segment is watching on linear TV, and what times of day they are watching, and then buy standard (national, i.e. reaching everyone) broadcast linear TV where you can find most of this audience at the best prices.

No.7: Agencies do have a future

Every year on the eve of Future TV Advertising Global, an invitation-only Pathfinders gathering addresses some of the hottest topics in advertising. This year it focused on the future of agencies, and it will come as no surprise that leaders at those companies are convinced they have a bright outlook, despite the attentions of brand procurement officers on the one hand and media services consulting firms like Accenture on the other.

One executive summed up the value-add that agencies provide (or should provide) very neatly: They are the guardians of effectiveness for client campaigns across the whole communications ecosystem; Agencies can look at the holistic picture, working out how best to use the different media and media owners together; Agencies are the guardians of balancing the long-term and short-term goals of their clients; They are the guardians of client spend, making sure that it goes where the audiences are.



Viewers, advertisers have come to expect more personalization, focus

Both traditional and digital buyers recognize the power and value of TV advertising. This full-screen, nonskippable, sight-and-sound format delivers performance for both brand and direct response advertisers alike. What’s most exciting to those same buyers is that increased availability of viewing data and addressable screens will soon support even more focused buying across premium video sources. At the same time, personalized content and the experience of impression-based digital advertising have reset buyer expectations and opened the market to a substantial number of new-to-TV advertisers.

Here are three ways TV publishers and broadcasters should be thinking about these shifting dynamics to capitalize on new monetization opportunities.

Sell More Ads
An obvious way to grow revenue is by increasing the volume of impressions monetized. This can be achieved by increasing the amount of impressions available to sell or improving the fill rates of existing inventory. Additional impressions can be derived from increased ad load, but this is problematic in many markets as user expectations, particularly for premium video, are for a reduced ad load, not an increased one.

That leaves improving fill rates as the more viable approach to driving up revenue. But traditional media, including local TV, has often been handicapped from pursuing this strategy due to a lack of data. Some local audiences aren’t measured, or a program is given a zero GRP (gross rating point) rating because local providers only capture audiences of a certain size and up.

With the shift to advanced and connected TV models, additional viewing and behavioral data is suddenly available to TV publishers. This allows sellers to support advertiser demand for impressions-based and cross-platform buying, increasing their monetization potential on previously ignored spots, while helping marketers find the ‘right audience’ regardless of where and when the viewing takes place.

This approach is being successfully adopted in several local markets. Impression based business models can be seen in the U.S. with NBCUniversal’s acquisition and integration of Sky’s AdSmart platform to bring targeted TV ads to individual households, in Singapore as Mediacorp shifts from shift from the traditional TV-metric of GRPs to introduce a pricing structure based on the digital CPM model (the cost required to get 1,000 impressions or views of an ad), and in Australia with Nine Network’s small and medium enterprise (SME) self-service TV buying platform, which allows SMEs to purchase inventory across the Nine portfolio on an impression basis.

Sell More Effective Ads
Despite TV and full-screen video being extremely effective advertising mediums for both brand building and audience activation, the necessary ratings, research and conversion analytics have been too time consuming and tedious to attribute to local TV inventory. For most buyers, it has been easier to just buy rated programs and leave it at that. But that looks set to change; earlier this year the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) called for the move to impressions-based local TV currency, while Hearst Television announced at the same time that, in a shift away from traditional ratings, it would begin selling TV ads based on audience impressions.

Shifting to impressions-based buying enhances the effectiveness of automated TV buying and selling as it offers a standardized view of all impressions and the ability to capture data, which then informs outcomes, incrementality and attribution. With this shift, TV can start to compete with pure digital buys while overall effectiveness can be improved without needing to completely change the ad budgets.

Sell More Targeted Ads
Traditional TV advertising has long been focused on mass marketing, seeing wild success due to the scale and reach of the medium. And despite the new focus on digital being data-driven, TV was there first. The data in TV buying consists largely of a known, structured program grid, defined in advance, shown at specific times and measured by third parties on a sampled basis. This data is applied to planning, buying and measuring ad-supported TV and the ad trading is done hours to weeks or months in advance of the program airing.

With the development of digital advertising, media buyers are able to more narrowly focus their buying efforts. This has been made possible because digital media owners often have user or device data that allows for reaching a more specifically segmented, albeit smaller, audience with personalized advertising messages. In this instance, the media buyer uses data to decide which users to target with specific ads, as well as the price that they are willing to pay, at nearly the same time the ad is being shown to the viewer.

The availability of additional data from the introduction of digitally connected devices — TVs, smartphones, gaming consoles and tablets — has created additional demand for more targeted advertising on TV publisher inventory. This targeting can be used to go after high-value niche audiences, or it can be combined with the traditional linear programming to reach audiences that are increasingly hard to find on traditional broadcast programming as viewers shift to alternative screens and platforms.

Where We Are Today
Media buyers are looking to reach their target audiences in the right context and most effective environment, regardless of where they are or what they are watching. At the same time, TV publishers have been challenged to retain their share of ad budgets as user viewing habits shift and devices multiply.

Luckily, the availability of viewing data has opened up new possibilities for buying and selling premium TV inventory in a new way that better reflects how viewers interact with content today and how advertisers want to engage those viewers. Using digital-like audience targets instead of demographics, and an impression-based currency, the future of TV buying will allow media owners and advertisers to build on the strengths of TV to provide users with targeted engaging content at scale, while taking into account the reality of users’ viewing behavior.

Brian Golbere is senior VP, technology, in the TV Solutions Group at IPONWEB.



TV professionals around the world celebrate World Television Day on 21 November to remind us that TV is so much more than linear viewing. As part of the annual United Nations initiative, a 30 second-spot will be broadcast on-air and shared online worldwide.

Diversity of TV content that entertains, informs and inspires.

The topic of the 23rd edition of this global celebration is Diversity. TV offers an unmatched variety of premium films and series, trustworthy news, informative documentaries, entertaining shows and more to viewers around the world – millions of stories, just waiting to be discovered, changing the viewers’ perception of the world. This premium content, available when and where they want on a multitude of TV platforms triggers the curiosity, interest and loyalty of viewers, always in a brand safe environment.

The topic of Diversity is a larger societal topic increasingly featured in TV programmes and advertising campaigns. Through the wide range of content on offer, TV plays a powerful role as a force for good and contributes to a democratic debate in society. The diverse quality content can incite viewers to broaden their mind and look beyond the everyday life through inspirational shows.

“Diversity is a critical component of a positive and vibrant society and should be seen as a richness rather than a threat. Every effort to Leave No One Behind can only contribute to a better world “, asserts Caroline Petit, Deputy Director United Nations Regional Information Centre for Europe (UNRIC).

“TV is truly entrenched in the lives of so many diverse people around the world. With millions of stories at their fingertips, viewers are invited to an endless journey of discovery. This is also the trusted environment advertisers are seeking more than ever. We invite everyone to once again celebrate our medium around the world – now and for many more years to come.” says Katty Roberfroid, Director General, egta.

For more information, please visit


The Global TV Group is an informal grouping of broadcasters’ and sales houses’ trade bodies in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and Latin America, whose joint objective is to promote television and remind advertisers, journalists, agencies and industry peers about the effectiveness and popularity of TV.


The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is the world’s foremost alliance of public service media (PSM). Our mission is to make PSM indispensable. We represent 116 media organizations in 56 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and have an additional 34 Associates in Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. Our Members operate nearly 2,000 television and radio channels alongside numerous online platforms. Together, they reach audiences of more than one billion people around the world, broadcasting in more than 160 languages. We strive to secure a sustainable future for public service media, provide our Members with world-class content from news to sports and music, and build on our founding ethos of solidarity and co-operation to create a centre for learning and sharing.

ABOUT egta

egta is the association representing television and radio sales houses, either independent from the channel or in-house, that markets the advertising space of both private and public television and radio stations throughout Europe and beyond. egta fulfils different functions for its members in fields of activities as diversified as regulatory issues, audience measurement, sales methods, interactivity, cross-media, technical standards, new media, etc. During its more than 40 years’ existence, egta has become the reference centre for television and radio advertising in Europe. egta counts more than 150 members operating across 42 countries.


The Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) represents the interests of leading commercial broadcasters in 37 European countries. The ACT member companies finance, produce, promote and distribute content and services benefiting millions of Europeans across all platforms. ACT engages with the EU institutions to achieve a balanced and appropriate regulatory framework which will encourage further investment and growth in our sector.


The Brussels-based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Europe – UNRIC – provides information on UN activities to 22 countries and is active on social media and websites in 13 languages. It acts as the European communication office of the United Nations and its aim is to engage and inform European citizens about global issues. It also liaises with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities, joint public information campaigns and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, the creative community, and local authorities.


While return on investment varies depending on the brand and campaign, linear TV and broadcaster video-on-demand show up to three times less variance than other media.

TV is the “least risky” form of advertising, providing the most consistent return on investment when compared to other media channels, according to new research.

The study, conducted by Gain Theory, MediaCom and Wavemaker on behalf of Thinkbox, finds that linear TV advertising and broadcast video-on-demand (BVoD) deliver just 20% of variance compared with the median return (with BVoD performing slightly better than linear TV). This means that the middle 50% of results are within 20% (+/-) of the median ROI.

For online video, the variance is closer to 40% and gets progressively worse through to print, where it is close to 90% (see chart below).

While the research has been commissioned by TV advertising body Thinkbox, it is based on econometric analysis of £1.4bn in media spend by 50 brands across 10 forms of advertising over three years. The aim is to offer brands practical advice if they don’t have access to econometric analysis across six categories – FMCG, finance, retail, online retail, automotive and travel.

The research also finds that TV has the highest ‘multiplier effect’ across other channels, boosting all other channels by at least 20% and the only media platform to do this. For example, TV advertising can boost performance in cinema by up to 54%; print, radio, online display and social media by 31%; and direct mail, online video, video-on-demand and outdoor by up to 22%.

The next highest is print, which can boost cinema advertising by up to 13% but only improves other media by up to 8%. The average multiplier effect across all channels is 8%.

In the short-term, it is search that delivers the highest percentage of media-driven sales at an average of 29% within the first two weeks of a campaign launch. TV comes in second on 23% and print third on 10%.

However, looking longer term, TV performs the best. In the six-to-18 months following a campaign, TV delivers a further 2.4 times increase in sales than it generated in the first two weeks, while print delivers 1.2 times more and search 0.8 times more.

Offering brands practical help

To illustrate what this means for brands looking to find the optimal media mix, Thinkbox is launching a tool it calls ‘demand generator‘.

Marketers can input details of their brand across six variables – category, budget, brand size (in annual revenue), appeal (mass market or niche), percentage of sales that take place online and desire to minimise risk – and the tool then forecasts likely business results in terms of incremental revenue or profit per year, and revenue or profit return on investment.

These variables can have a significant impact on optimal channel choice. For the category variable, FMCG, in general, should invest a much higher proportion in TV (72%) than finance (37%).

Brands with a higher percentage of online sales should invest more in search, BVoD and online video, and less in TV than those with a lower percentage of online sales. Meanwhile, generally speaking the bigger the business the more it should invest in TV, while the more niche it is the more it should invest in digital media.

That means, for example, that if a brand has £50m in revenue, a budget of £2m, operates in online retail with niche appeal, gets more than 75% of its sales online and wants to minimise risk, the tool recommends 36% of budget is spent on search, 31% on TV and 10% on radio. This would lead to incremental revenues of £18m (+/- 21%) and revenue ROI of 9.1 (+/- 21%).

On the other hand, if a brand is mass-market automotive with £3.5bn in revenue, a budget of £20m and making less than 25% of its sales online, it recommends 76% of spend should go into TV, then 7% on radio and 4% on print. This would give incremental revenue of £558m (+/- 16%) and revenue ROI of 27.9 (+/- 16%).

Thinkbox research and planning director Matt Hill says he hopes the tool will offer marketers “something tangible and practical” to help brands find their optimal media mix.

“We hope the demand generator will be a helpful springboard for the many brands that don’t already do econometric analyses of their media performance. They can tailor it to their exact needs to find the best place to start from when deciding their media mix,” he says.

“With marketers increasingly adopting a zero-based budgeting approach, having a tool like this should provide a great evidence-based foundation on which to build their decisions.”



In a highly fragmented media world, where the consumer is at the cutting edge of media consumption, media measurement and attribution can be a moving target. How does the industry keep up? Several industry experts deconstructed this dilemma at the Data Conference, part of New York City Television Week.

What Is the Solution?

In searching for the solution to cross-platform media measurement, the panel essentially described the problems in even reaching a solution. Paul LeFort, a senior vice president at Nielsen, noted, “No one solution will work in the long-term.” But he believes that comparable metrics matter. “The interesting push in the past few months is the impressions-based approach,” he stated. “Impressions remove friction in the process. If we only use ratings, then we lose portions of our audience.”

For Radha Subramanyam, chief research and analytics officer at CBS, a hybrid approach is the best way to go, with “a combination of panel and other data.” But, she noted, there is still the issue of walled gardens. “What do you do with all of that data that sits outside?” she asked. “We need a holistic view because the market doesn’t care about walls or silos of data. Advertisers want the full picture.”

The barrier to a holistic solution is a not technical one, Subramanyam added. “It is will or leadership. We need to think bigger and have more cooperation. We need a fluid ecosystem. The tech [is] easy but getting it done [is] not.”

What About Panels?

Frank Comerford, president of NBC Local Media Commercial Operations, and chief revenue officer and president, commercial operations, for NBCU Local Media, listed a range of challenges. “Is a small panel accurately reflecting the audience we have?” he asked. “Is a big data set reflecting our audience?” Comerford explained that if viewers aren’t in the right places in the data set, it will produce the wrong information. In addition, he said, “with a big data sample, there are walled gardens that are marking their own homework.”

Panels have both advantages and shortcomings. “Panels provide a fundamental source of truth,” Subramanyam noted. “[A panel] allows customers and clients to understand the households from which it is derived. It is also a source of diversity measurement and ensures an exact or accurate representation of those audiences. I believe in the fundamental need of [panels] to give us those things. But we also need the scale and stability of big data sets.”

“Panels can’t strive for behavioral, but can strive for the demographic,” Comerford added.

Who Leads the Charge?

When it comes to deciding the most effective measurement and metric, who has the last word?

Nielsen’s LeFort believes that it is, ultimately, up to the advertiser — “if the advertiser is happy about what they have spent to get their results.” The good news, he explained, is “TV and digital are not as far apart as we pretend it is.”  They are complementary. “It is not TV versus digital.”

Subramanyam concurred, “We are here to service the marketer and we need a healthy, transparent market. There are lots of initiatives at work and a combination of them will lead to a new standard.” But, she added, “consensus in standardization across media is essential. And people have to get comfortable in getting their data out there.”

Experimentation Is Essential

Measurement solutions should be a part of tracking attribution and there is a lot of experimentation going on in this area. “[At CBS,] we start by experimenting on ourselves and then offer the solutions to our marketers,” Subramanyam noted. “Attribution, specifically in digital, is still in the early stages. It tends to be versions of last click. But there are lots of experiments.”

For NBC’s Comerford, the local markets try a range of different attribution experiments with a “small sample on the buy in the local market. We track and see. We can prove that an ad that runs on TV is effective and multiplies the effect of local advertising. The last click did not necessarily get the sale, but it might be the execution of the sale. We have to see what led to that.”

The overall consensus is that the industry is now working together to find solutions. “The good news is that we are all talking,” Subramanyam said. All this results in greater cooperation and a “robust and positive discussion.”


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