How does TV advertising work?

Commercial TV Advertising reaches over 70% of people in one day, 92% within a week, and 98% within a month. No other medium has such immense reach and it is TV’s ability to deliver this scale, and so rapidly, that is central to its impact.

The growth of multi-channel digital broadcast platforms has delivered massive choice to viewers. There are now commercial channels and programmes to suit any taste or interest.

Greater channel choice inevitably means that audiences are more spread out than before, but this is a benefit to advertisers and is better deemed segmentation than fragmentation. Alongside TV’s ability to reach the majority of the UK overnight, it can now also reach very specific, niche, highly targeted groups who have chosen to watch specific channels – as well as targeting regionally, as it always has done.

Multi-channel viewing has meant that TV advertising can be more accurate and cost effective. TV’s expansion is providing greater flexibility, choice and control for advertisers.

TV viewing figures in the UK for 2011 equaled the record high set in 2010. The average viewer watched 4 hours, 2 minutes of linear TV a day in 2011 (28 hours, 14 minutes a week), according to new figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB). This strong performance underlines viewers’ preference for watching TV as it is broadcast and on a TV set whenever possible.

The many new ways to watch TV via other screens such as laptops, tablets and smartphones are growing, and a welcome solution to out of home viewing, but they are not included in BARB’s figures and are not impacting on linear viewing. Commercial TV channels (i.e. non-BBC channels) were responsible for maintaining the record viewing level, accounting for 64% of all linear TV viewing, an increase of 1.3% points on 2010. For the younger 16-34 audience this rises to 72%. During 2011, the average person watched 18 hours, 11 minutes of commercial TV a week (2 hours, 36 minutes a day), an increase of 22 minutes a week on 2010. In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing has increased by over 3 hours, 30 minutes a week (31 minutes a day).