TV Advertising in 2024: All About Your Options

TV Advertising in 2024: All About Your Options
By Stephanie Nerby, VP, Marketing
November 27, 2023

There are nearly 125 million U.S. households with televisions (a pretty impressive share, considering the total population of the entire country is about 336 million). And about half (55%) of Americans spend one to four hours watching TV every day — nearly another quarter (22%) watch four hours or more.

On average, how many hours of TV do you watch each day?

It’s no wonder that U.S. advertisers spend about $70 billion a year on TV advertising.

But if you’re still deciding on whether television advertising is right for you, you’ve come to the right spot. Read on to learn about:

5 benefits of TV ads (that all brands love)

You might think TV advertising is only for the big players who can afford to spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns. But the truth is that TV advertising is a powerful tool that can benefit all brands — big or small, national or local. 

Advertising on TV offers several benefits that make it a popular choice among many kinds of marketers, including:

1. Reach

TV advertising allows you to reach a broad swath of viewers, including those who may not be active online. TV is still one of the most popular forms of media consumed by people of all ages and backgrounds, making it an effective way to get your brand in front of a large and diverse audience.

2. High impact

TV advertising can be highly impactful and memorable, thanks to its visual and audio elements. In fact, ad recall for TV ads beats out other ad types at an astounding 46%

3. Brand building

Because of the great recall, TV advertising can be an effective tool for building brand awareness. By appearing on TV, your brand can also be associated with high-quality content and trusted networks, helping to build credibility and trust with consumers.

4. Cost-effective

While producing and airing a TV commercial can be expensive, there are options available for businesses of all sizes and budgets. Local cable networks and streaming services, for example, offer cost-effective options for businesses looking to reach smaller and/or more targeted audiences.

5. Addressable advertising

With advanced targeting capabilities, newer forms of TV advertising can help you reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and viewing habits. This means that you can tailor your message to the right people at the right time, increasing the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

Types of TV advertising to consider

There’s a lot to TV advertising these days — let’s take a quick stroll through the types of TV advertising available to your brand in 2024.

Linear television advertising

Linear TV refers to the more traditional means of delivering live television programming via broadcast, cable or satellite. The viewer tunes in to watch a scheduled TV program when it's broadcast on its original channel.

When you advertise on linear TV, your ads are scheduled to air at specific times during a TV show or program. The TV content is designed to accommodate ads, with specific time slots allocated for ads to air between segments of content. Your ads are delivered to the broad audience tuning in to the program at that time.

Streaming television advertising

Streaming TV, also known as over-the-top (OTT) or connected TV (CTV), refers to the delivery of TV content over the internet (see you later, cable and satellite!). This content is largely available on-demand, so the viewer can tune in to watch whenever she feels like it.

When you advertise on streaming TV, your ads are delivered through streaming apps or services like Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max. Thanks to digital delivery, streaming TV ads can be targeted to specific households or viewers based on data such as demographics, interests, and behavior.

The blurring of linear and streaming TV

Streaming TV has revolutionized the way we consume TV content, offering a wide range of options and greater flexibility to viewers. The result is a mass migration to streaming TV content.

Nearly 50 million U.S. households are expected to have cut the cable/satellite cord by 2024. Conversely, consumption of over-the-top (OTT) video content via connected devices (like connected TVs, smart phones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.) is on the rise. The U.S. alone is expected to have over 300 million OTT users by 2027 — about 90% market penetration.

Plus, 87% of U.S. adults own at least one connected TV, and almost half of US adults watch a connected TV daily. CTV viewing accounts for about 80% of all OTT viewing.

CTV vs. OTT: Is there a difference?
CTV vs. OTT: Is there a difference?
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As a result, many linear TV providers have begun to offer streaming and/or on-demand options. Comcast Xfinity, for example, now offers Xfinity on Demand and Xfinity Stream, and DirecTV now offers DirecTV stream.

Streaming providers have taken note, and some have started offering live TV options more akin to linear. For example, subscribers can now catch live programming on YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV.

In other words, there are more TV choices than ever for both viewers and advertisers alike. 

A Brief History of TV Advertising
A Brief History of TV Advertising
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Pros of advertising on linear vs. streaming TV

Definitions are all well and good, but if you’re considering TV advertising, what option is right for you? Ultimately, the answer depends on your specific target audience, budget, campaign goals, etc., but here’s a breakdown of the pros of linear vs. streaming tv advertising.

Advantages of advertising on linear TV

Advertising on linear TV still offers several advantages, despite the rise of streaming TV and digital advertising. Those advantages include:

1. Broad reach: While both linear and streaming TV can reach broad audiences, linear TV has a slight advantage with its vast and historical viewership base. This allows advertisers to reach a wide and diverse audience. It is particularly effective for targeting large-scale, mainstream audiences.

2. Simultaneous viewing: Unlike streaming TV, linear TV is often watched live, leading to simultaneous viewing by a significant number of viewers. This can be beneficial for time-sensitive or event-based advertising campaigns, such as product launches, live events, or seasonal promotions.

3. Premium Content:  Linear TV is known for high-quality content. Advertisers can tap into premium, highly engaged content that resonates with viewers. Linear advertising also allows you to make purchases based on shows or content types.

Advantages of advertising on streaming TV

Advertising on streaming TV offers several advantages for advertisers, too. As you might expect, many of the advantages reflect linear TV’s disadvantages.

1. Highly-targeted reach: While linear goes broad, streaming allows you to niche down. Advanced targeting capabilities allow advertisers to reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behavior, and location. This precise targeting ensures that your ads are shown to the right audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions.

2. Growing viewership: Linear may have the historical advantage, but eyeballs are migrating. Streaming TV viewership continues to grow rapidly. By advertising on streaming platforms, advertisers can tap into this growing audience base and align their campaigns with the evolving media consumption habits of consumers.

3. Flexibility and control: Unlike a linear TV campaign, you can adjust your streaming TV campaigns in real-time based on performance data — optimizing ad placements, creative elements, and targeting parameters. This agility allows for more efficient campaigns and the ability to respond quickly to changing market dynamics.

4. Detailed analytics and insights: Streaming TV platforms provide robust analytics and reporting, offering detailed insights into ad performance. Advertisers can access metrics such as impressions, clicks, view-through rates, and conversions. These insights enable data-driven decision-making, allowing advertisers to optimize their campaigns and allocate budgets more effectively.

5. Ad-free subscription options: Some streaming TV platforms offer ad-free subscription options for viewers. This might not seem like an advantage, but it can work to the advantage of advertisers. The remaining viewers are less likely to be ad-averse — and more likely to engage with the ads. 

Successful TV advertising examples

Think about the TV commercials you remember from the past. What characteristics do they share? Generally, the best TV ad examples start with a strong concept, weave in emotional appeal, engage the senses with visuals, sound and music, and deliver a clear message. 

The following are a few examples of popular television ads that hit the mark exceptionally well.

Linear TV advertising examples

Coca-Cola "Hilltop" (1971)

Coca-Cola's "Hilltop" ad, also known as “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” tapped into viewers' emotions by presenting a positive and uplifting message of unity and harmony. The song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and the diverse group of people coming together struck a chord with viewers, creating an emotional connection and a sense of shared values. 

The visual elements of the ad — including people from various backgrounds coming together and sharing Coca-Cola — created iconic imagery. And the catchy jingle didn’t hurt.

Overall, the ad highly resonated with viewers and became an enduring symbol of Coca-Cola's message of togetherness.

Budweiser “Wassup” (1999)

If you were alive in the U.S. in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you probably still use the memorable catchphrase “Wassuuuuup” from this Budweiser ad — which become a cultural phenomenon. 

The advertisement is widely regarded as successful because it was catchy, relatable, humorous, made great use of sound, and was culturally relevant for its time.

Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" (2010)

The commercial introduced the charismatic "Old Spice Man" character, played by actor Isaiah Mustafa. 

The character's confident and humorous delivery, along with the unexpected and absurd scenarios, made the ad entertaining and memorable. The humor helped capture viewers' attention and created a positive association with the brand, and the fast-paced nature of the ad kept viewers engaged and entertained.

Positioning the brand as a choice that would make men more attractive and appealing to women, the ad effectively communicated the benefits of Old Spice products while entertaining viewers. 

Coinbase Super Bowl Commercial (2022)

Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase ran arguably the most innovative ad of Super Bowl LVI. Reminiscent of an old-school screensaver, the 60-second spot simply featured a QR code bouncing around the screen. Viewers that scanned the code were sent to a page that offered $15 of free cryptocurrency for opening an account within the next 2 days. 

And that little bouncing code was apparently irresistible — so many viewers scanned it that the landing page crashed. 

The Coinbase ad serves as an excellent example of integrating traditional linear TV advertising with direct response — and it still had people talking more than a year later. 

Streaming TV advertising examples

Modern streaming TV ads share a lot of best practices with traditional TV ads. 

But successful streaming TV advertising should also be highly targeted and data-driven. Streaming advertisers also have the opportunity to make better use of calls to action, optimize performance in-flight, and provide consistent cross-platform experiences. 

Here are a few other streaming TV advertising examples that get it right.

DTC fashion brand puts its first commercials on the big screen

This DTC, high-end women’s fashion brand saw the potential in CTV performance and decided to give it a go. The brand was already knowledgeable about their ideal audience — millennials with disposable income. 

By using context from their digital campaigns, they created precise look-alike audiences through CTV. Using a privacy-safe device graph, the brand targeted households with the following attributes:

  • Females aged 21+

  • Household income 100k+ 

  • Washington DC metropolitan area

  • Single

  • Technology savvy

  • Wine/coffee aficionados

The DTC brand uncovered their most popular product pages and orders, then tied this information back to initial impressions to find their best performing ads in a privacy-complaint way. These insights allowed them to optimize in-flight performance and maintain steady engagement trends, month-over-month.

Results included:

  • 250,000 impressions

  • 99.3% video completion rate

  • 15% repeat visitor to site

DTC fashion brand puts its first commercials on the big screen
DTC fashion brand puts its first commercials on the big screen
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Luxury department store chain increases revenue by millions through in-flight optimizations

A well-known department store chain was new to CTV advertising sought a way to iterate quickly on campaigns, drive site traffic, increase revenue—and accurately assess campaign performance to find areas for improvement.

The retailer cloned ad campaigns as needed and modified only the variables that required changing to test and optimize performance. Single variable changes were made in cloned campaigns for creatives, locations and placement. Each iteration led to confident decision making and consistent improvements. 

Thanks to both real-time performance data and flexibility, this retailer achieved:

  • $4M+ total revenue generated   

  • 23.5X return on ad spend

  • 8% increase in conversion rate

Luxury department store chain increases revenue by millions through in-flight optimization
Luxury department store chain increases revenue by millions through in-flight optimization
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Software company achieves 4.5X ROAS through cross-device CTV advertising

This cybersecurity giant found themselves in need of a new generation of users for their annual subscription product — and it was costing the brand a bundle to find and engage these prospects on social media and linear TV. 

The software company sought a way to reach new and incremental audiences and reduce their overall cost of acquisition, while also integrating with existing omnichannel campaigns to optimize their media presence.

Using tracking pixels, this client retargeted website visitors with CTV ads placed in their prospects’ favorite shows. Additional targeting was based on highly specific parameters like in-market behavior, contextual viewing, and competitive conquesting.

Finally, the brand used frequency caps to make sure their prospects weren’t repeatedly hit with the same ads across multiple streaming devices.

In this TV advertising example, results included: 

  • 20%+ lower acquisitions costs

  • 4.5X return on ad spend

  • 57% incremental conversions

Software company achieves 4.5X ROAS through cross-device CTV advertising
Software company achieves 4.5X ROAS through cross-device CTV advertising
Read More

Where television advertising is heading

There are a few key TV advertising trends that will no doubt shape the future of the industry. For example:

CTV will continue to grow

According to eMarketer, 2023 is the first year that U.S. cord-cutting households (68.7 million) outnumber pay TV households (62.8 million). On the flip side, 87% of households own at least one connected device, and Netflix alone boasts 65.3 million U.S. subscribers.

Journalist Cleo Abram outlines this growth in CTV viewership:

Linear TV advertisers and digital advertisers alike should be figuring out how to incorporate this increasingly important channel into their marketing strategies.

Check out Cleo's other TV advertising videos.

Retail media networks are adopting CTV

Retail media networks (RMNs) are also gaining steam. And now these RMNs are discovering the opportunity of adding CTV to their channel mix. Madhive CMO Jeff Fagel explains:

“By using first-party data to target CTV audiences based on their purchase history and browsing behavior, retail media networks can create highly personalized and relevant ad experiences that resonate with consumers — and drive return for advertisers.” 

How to advertise on TV

Whether you’re looking to advertise on linear or streaming TV, the first step is to put a strategy in place. Determine the objectives of your TV campaign, identify the demographics and interests of your target audience, and set your budget.

The next steps are dependent on whether you’re going the traditional TV route or streaming on CTV. 

We’re (obviously) partial to CTV.

A CTV advertising technology partner will connect advertisers (brands) with audiences (people) watching streaming TV. And the best CTV advertising platforms will provide you with everything you need to succeed with connected TV advertising, from start to finish.

Madhive is one of those platforms — and you can be up and running with Madhive in a matter of days. 

Set up a demo today to see how fast and easy it is to get started with TV advertising.