What Will the Future of TV Ads Look Like?
The first television ad to air in the UK was for Gibbs SR toothpaste and was shown to viewers of ITV on 22nd September 1955. It wasn’t, however, the first-ever commercial to be broadcast to TV audiences. In Asia, the first TV ad appeared on Japan’s Nippon Television on 28th August 1953; it was a commercial for Seikosha and simply displayed a clock with the current time on it.
That still wasn’t the first TV ad though. That title belongs to an ad for Bulova watches that was aired in the United States on 1st July 1941 during an MLB game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The ad was an entire minute long and showed a clock in the centre of the screen with the company’s logo covering a large part of the face. Like the Seikosha ad, it showed the real time and was accompanied by the words “Bulova Watch Time”.
Back then, the company reportedly paid somewhere between $4 and $9 to the WNBT New York television station to air the ad. Accounting for inflation, that means the ad would have cost around $166 (£120) in today’s money. Compared to the £3,000 – £4,000 that companies pay for a prime-time slot today, Bulova got a bargain.
TV ads have come a long way since then. Commercials quickly became much more advanced, though early versions usually spent most of their time “explaining” the features of products. A famous example is the Chiquita Banana from the 1940s which sought to help Americans understand how to store, cook and eat the new and exotic yellow fruit.
Today, advertisers tend to focus a lot more on emotion than in the mid-20th century. This is especially thanks to early pioneers like Coca-Cola which ran the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign.
With the advent of the internet, many are beginning to question whether television ads still have a place in the modern world. Apart from a few people who may hold very strong opinions, most would agree that television advertising still has a place, but it will continue to change and evolve over the coming years. Here are the things we can expect to see.
TV as Part of a Wider Mix
No single marketing method is better than the others in all circumstances. Each has its own merits and is more suitable in a particular situation. That’s the case with TV, just as much as anything else.
TV is great because it can reach a very large audience in one go, making it the perfect medium for raising awareness about a brand. This can then be followed up with more targeted digital ads with more recognisable calls to action.
Many companies already use TV ads as part of a wider marketing mix that contains a range of digital ads. This is something that PokerStars did with its I’M IN campaign, running a 60-second television commercial combined with social and other online ads, and even sponsoring sporting events like Formula 1.
Here in the UK, we’re fairly new to the concept of product placement. In other parts of the world, especially the United States, strategically positioned cups, glasses, food boxes, computers, and other products can be seen in TV shows all the time.
The first product placement actually didn’t take place in the UK until 2011 when Nescafé paid £100,000 to have a tiny coffee machine placed in the back of a cooking segment of ITV’s “This Morning” for nine weeks.
Shows using them must show a “P” logo to warn viewers that the show contains product placement.
But as Brits become more accepting of the concept, we’re likely to see more of it. Especially as television companies continue to find ways to monetise their broadcasts in new ways, as competition from streaming services has made it more difficult to charge large sums for ad slots.
Many people hate TV ads as they’re not very engaging, so one way that marketers can resolve this is by making them interactive. Research from early attempts at this are that viewers perceive them to be over 90% more fun, 70% more engaging, and around 65% more stimulating.
Some attempts to create interactive ads include the ability to use the Shazam app while the commercial is running to take you to a webpage with more information, quizzes where the answer is displayed in the next ad break, and betting ads that include live odds for the game currently airing.
There is a lot of experimentation required in this area though and we will likely see marketers come up with new ideas in the years to come.