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  • Writer's pictureDhiraaj Kesaria

Evolution of Television Advertising During Pandemic

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

- By Dhiraaj Kesaria, July 24, 2021

For starters, marketers developed a deft and became more agile with their campaigns and less dependent on tentpoles.

television advertising

Everything changed very quickly last March and TV was no exception. In the year since the COVID-19 pandemic briefly shut down live sports, new episodes for serial and that's only the tip of the iceberg. The TV business is yet to adapt to the changing world.

Ad flexibility is on the rise.

Due to the lack of live sporting events early in the pandemic, networks and brands were forced to adjust to a new programming slate, constantly shifting audiences, and new dayparts for viewers to call "home" while stuck in the house more; for example, daytime TV ad impressions increased exorbitantly in the year since the pandemic began.

The absence of anchor content for an extended period changed the market, allowing for a more flexible exchange of commercials and audiences. Scatter became a precious commodity all of a sudden.

Given the unpredictability around programming and viewership, TV ad purchase cycles have shrunk significantly after decades of lengthy lead times. Brands are shifting from quarterly or bi-annual adjustment cycles to weekly evaluations as they use more data to make decisions. Marketers have been encouraged to be more agile to justify expenditure because of this type of real-time optimization.

A new focus on the audience

Brands have to immediately create new strategies to reach intended audiences without the draw of blockbuster events like live sports for many months. These changes included new sorts of programming and fresh excursions into streaming services, ranging from the industry's behemoths to the newest newcomers.

As a result, we've seen a rise in audience segment-based buying and demand for cross-platform measurement, as marketers want to know how many net new individuals they're reaching via streaming versus linear TV. With the growing number of ad-supported services available and many networks' concerted resolve to make ad selling a cohesive effort across traditional and digital properties, streaming audience share will only continue to rise.

Addressable advertising almost immediately bailed due to changing customer behaviour last year. As a result of the increased interest in personalising communications amid varying quarantine and social distancing levels around the country, the addressable market increased by double digits.

The significant creative shift

As the country was put under lockdown last year, a large portion of television advertising became irrelevant in a matter of days. Within the first few months of the epidemic, COVID related messages were the focus of a large number of television commercials.

In addition, brands have been more concerned about striking the correct tone. iSpot Ace Metrix study respondents described roughly 32% of TV commercials as "funny" in February 2020. In May, that figure had dropped to less than 15%.

Meanwhile, “empowering” spots found a tailwind. Only 17% of TV advertising were regarded as empowering by survey respondents from March 2019 to February 2020. From the beginning of the epidemic until now, that number has remained over 24%, peaking at 49% in April 2020.

New advertisers, new industries

Despite the hurdles that television has faced over the last year, I believe it is still the most effective means to communicate brand messages to consumers. And, in the early days of the pandemic, with CPMs down and data use up, it enticed a slew of new advertisers to the medium. Over 1,200 businesses were either first-time TV advertisers or returned to TV after a year or more away in 2020.

More ad time and ad-supported streaming fueled a large part of that growth. As new advertisers and industries climbed to the top, attention shifted away from brands.

While TV ad impressions declined during family dining dates, food delivery services flourished. As studios reduced theatrical releases, streaming services grew to become the top source for consumption of ads in terms of total ad impressions.

Advertisers are becoming less reliant on tentpole content as we emerge from the pandemic. Linear is still king, but it's no longer the be-all and end-all. During the epidemic, the migration to streaming accelerated significantly, and TV commercials became even more targeted as a result.

The bottom line

Despite its difficulties, the television industry has developed in the face of them, becoming an even more effective, nimble, and data-driven medium for advertisers.

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