TV Advertising | Curious About TV Advertising


History of TV



Creative Production


A brief history of commercial TV in the UK

  • ITV1 launched in the UK in 1955 as a commercial alternative to BBC1 which had been airing since 1936.
  • The first commercial advert in the UK was for SR Gibbs toothpaste and it aired on ITV1 on 22nd September 1955 at 8.12pm.
  • Nearly 3 decades pass before another commercial broadcaster launches in the UK
  • In November 1982 we welcomed Channel4 to our screens
  • The first show to air was Countdown, and the first advertiser was Vauxhall
  • In 1980 a company was set up called Satellite Television Limited (SATV) which would develop into the BSkyb
  • In 1989 the 4 channel Sky Television packages launches as a paid for subscription service
  • In 1997 Channel 5 launched in the UK, and it’s first advertisement was for Chanel No5

Channel 5 was the last national terrestrial analogue broadcaster to launch on the UK.

In 1997 viewers could watch BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, C4 or Channel 5 which provided a mixture of commercial or non-commercial choice. However, a growing number of homes now also had satellite or cable subscription services which gave them access to a large number of channels from the likes of Sky, Discovery, Turner, Nickelodeon and UKTV.

In summary, the last 60 years have seen viewer choice increase (more channels to watch), and as a result viewer numbers for each show and channel have decreased (fragmentation of viewing). In 1970, just one spot in Coronation Street on ITV1 could have been seen by an average of 30 million people. However, now an average spot in Coronation Street would reach only 8.8 million people.

This development in the TV industry in the UK has helped shape the role of ‘the media planner and buyer’. With so many channels to choose from to advertise on, a media planner / buyer is an essential part of your ‘team’ to make sure you are buying on the right channels, and at the right price.

TV and effectiveness Britain is a nation of TV lovers, with recent research showing that for the last 10 years, viewers watch an average of 4 hours of TV on a daily basis. There are a number of great benefits to TV advertising, as it enables advertisers to;

  • Build mass reach
  • Achieve rapid brand awareness
  • Generate talkability for your brand - TV is the most talked about media platform in the UK
  • Measure response

TV opportunities in the UK The UK is home to hundreds of commercial TV channels which provide a fantastic platform for advertisers to promote their business or products on. There is something for everyone:

  • A large national advertiser can air across 300+ channels and reach 80% of people in the UK in a month with a broad campaign
  • A smaller regional advertiser can use one channel to reach people within a short drive time from their store
  • An online challenger brand can start advertising on small channels cost effectively
  • TV viewing has converged with online viewing, giving opportunities to advertise around live shows on TV or on-demand viewing platforms.

Overall, TV today is as popular as it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and it provides great entertainment for UK viewers, and fuels those ‘did you see that on TV last night’ conversations.

How is a TV advert created and produced? Once the strategy and core objectives of the TV campaign have been identified, the creative execution can start being developed, through various stages:

  • Firstly the creative team brainstorm imaginative ideas, before finding ‘the’ creative solution to the task at hand.
  • From this, the creative team can start script-writing and producing storyboards to illustrate how the concept will be executed.
  • Once the final concept has been client approved, if relevant to the creative concept, the production team will start sourcing the advert location, casting actors and ensuring that the creative complies with industry regulations.
  • Having been directed and filmed, the advert is then ready to be edited by the post-production team. This team can perfect the advert before it is live, by adding animations, 3D graphics and logos if required.
  • The final, approved creative is then ready to be cleared by Clearcast and then delivered to channels to be launched on TV

Planning & Buying





How is TV advertising planned and bought?

  • Research
  • Media planning
  • Media buying
  • Reporting

From an advertiser’s point of view, it does not matter how many channels there are, as long as you know that people are watching the adverts and can measure when, where and how they view.

An advertising agency such as Recipe put research at the heart of their planning, in order to understand your business and your consumers. They will look into:

  • What do you need to achieve?
  • Who is your target consumer?
  • What media do they consume?
  • When is the best time to deliver advertising messages to them?
  • What makes them purchase?
  • What do your competitors do?

Once the market has been researched, the media planner will then determine how best to allocate your budget to maximise return on investment.

Once the media plan is agreed with the client, the media buyer will take over to ensure that the planned campaign is delivered.The media buyer will ensure that the right spots air on the right channels, monitor the value and delivery of the campaign on a daily basis, and communicate to the client with regular updates of the spots due for transmission. If any changes to the plan are required, it is the media buyers role to make sure that these happen.

Once the last spot airs, there is a 10 day lag until all data is final, and the buyer can then start producing post campaign analysis where they can report back to the client the delivery against the plan. This will include confirming how many times then advert was seen, on what channels, at what times, and the overall reach of the campaign.

How do we analyze the TV campaign? Clever software exists which means that your media buyer can use your sales data, or web traffic data to calculate the return on investment from your media spend. This is why people refer to TV as being ‘accountable’ and is one of the reasons why advertisers love it so much.

TV can build mass awareness of a brand quickly (80% of your target market could see it at least once within 4 weeks), and you can report on how many people have seen the advert, and how this has translated to sales and return on investment.

How much will a TV campaign cost me?
TV advertising is often misconstrued as a very costly media platform, and as a result many businesses assume that they cannot afford to advertise on it. However we have excellent case studies on how advertisers can launch an create an impact with as little as £35k, and other studies where advertisers have invested just £5k, but have achieved a highly targeted campaign.

Clients often ask for estimated TV costs, but this is very difficult to do as costs are affected by a number of variables:

  • Seasonality - costs vary by month (summer tends to be cheaper than autumn for example)
  • The trading audience - TV stations trade with agencies against many demographics
  • Advertiser demand - If there is a high demand for TV advertising in the marketplace, you will pay more
  • Time length of the creative - 30 seconds is an industry standard, if the length of your advert is shorter or longer than this, the costs will vary accordingly
  • Time of day - Certain day parts are more expensive than others (i.e. early evening peak) as this is when most UK viewers are tuning in
  • Regionality - Targeting the whole of the UK will naturally be more expensive, whereas targeting a specific region (i.e. North West) will not be as costly.

However we have put together a number of topline costs to give an idea of what varying budgets can achieve, click here to find more.

Don’t be alarmed if you have less than £100k to spend on media. It is possible to spend as little as £3k on TV media and generate a response, and we have done many test / launch campaigns with TV media budgets of around £10k.

An overview of the process

  1. Brief Recipe
  2. TV strategy agreed
  3. TV creative approved
  4. TV media plans completed
  5. Budgets signed off
  6. Adverts developed and produced
  7. Adverts approved by clearcast ( and sent to all TV stations on media plan
  8. TV stations send over your airtime, and Recipe send you your spot schedule
  9. Campaign kicks off on air
  10. Daily improvements to campaign are made
  11. Post-campaign analysis (buying reviews) are completed
  12. Learnings are garnered to help plan future campaigns