An overview of UK TV ad performance by sector during the lockdown period.

In recent years, there’s been a shift in how advertisers are thinking about TV – starting to use it as a performance marketing channel. DTC and travel companies were some of the first to look at TV as an alternative to Google, according to Calum Smeaton, CEO and co-founder of TVSquared, using the channel to drive a response, from visiting a website or downloading an app all the way through to sales.

But the COVID-19 lockdown brought changes to TV viewing habits and advertisers’ spending priorities. TVSquared’s analysis of ad performance by sector shows that, unsurprisingly, travel and hospitality has been hardest hit, while retail (in the form of DTC and e-commerce) has seen performance double.

With barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons all shut, DTC beauty and lifestyle also registered a big uplift in performance. Smaller rises were seen for subscription services and online food delivery but Smeaton notes that some of these had to curtail advertising during lockdown in order to avoid being overwhelmed by demand. “It’s not that TV wasn’t working for them, but they were protecting their logistics.”

And among those sectors whose ad performance has tanked, he points out that some advertisers will have been on air just because they’d already bought the time. Gambling, meanwhile, was hit by the absence of live sport.

Smeaton highlights a couple of interesting footnotes. One is the rapid growth in DTC education advertising performance witnessed during the first six weeks of lockdown – up 84% initially but then winding down with the approach of summer. A second is the rise in charity advertising, as non-profits denied a swathe of high street money-raising opportunities took to the air, aided by the donation of inventory by broadcasters and by advertisers giving up some of their own spots.

As to the future, “I think we’re just going to see bounces up and down for certain sectors” – as restrictions are lifted, “then you’ll see travel and hospitality start to spike”, but just as quickly they’ll collapse again when restrictions are re-imposed, as was the case recently for travel to Spain. The story is obviously very different in sectors that are not massively impacted in terms of how they get their product to the consumer.

But no matter which sector a brand is operating in, the general trend of recent years has been accelerated by COVID, he suggests. “Any dollar you spend, you want to make sure you get a return on it, and so then to understand what works and what doesn’t becomes incredibly important.”

And traditional media planning approaches have been upended by audience movements, he notes. “You might have a sports audience but where are they now if there’s less sport on TV?” With recession the next battle, advertisers will want to not only find those audiences “but find those audiences that actually are buying or are responding to an advert”. 

Sourced from TVSquared