ASA data reveals unprecedented lockdown boost to TV ad exposure

A lockdown fuelled television boom has brought an unprecedented boost to TV ad exposure according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The regulators figures – sourced from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) – reflect the rapid evolution of advertising and advertisers to respond to our needs and wants in an era of public health messaging.

Traditional TV’s Covid-19 bump

  • Focused solely on broadcast TV (excluding subscription video-on-demand services) the ASA analysis took place for the first seven weeks of lockdown between 16 March and 3 May.

  • Comparing this window with the same period a year earlier, it was found television viewing had jumped against the previous year (+20.1%) and before lockdown (+12%).

  • Children aged 10-15 were the group watched more TV than any other populations segment .

  • In the final weeks of lockdown, viewing levels increased substantially with adults clocking up screen time; children's viewing rose above the 2019 baseline.

Exposure to ads on the up

  • Increased consumption has naturally translated into greater exposure to adverts, which rose 15.6% over the period despite adult viewing patterns remaining broadly consistent with pre-lockdown norms.

  • Heightened viewing brought a significant fall in exposure to adverts relating to sectors most affected by Covid-19, with cinema adverts collapsing from 5.9 ads to 1.5 ads per adult and from 4 to 0.8 ads per child.

  • Bars and restaurants also bore the brunt of containment measures with ads in the sector seen by adults slumping from 7.8 to 2.2 and 2.5 to 0.7 for children.

  • Travel brands also saw their reach dissipate with adults seeing just 1.3 ads versus 18.7 ads in happier times. The equivalent figures for children stood at 4.9 and 0.3 ads respectively.

  • Predictably, exposure to government-sponsored social and health campaigns surged in their wake, rising from 8.5 to 25.2 ads per adult and 2.1 to 5.6 ads per child.

  • Supermarkets also held their own with a spate of food-related brand building contributing to a rise from 5.9 ads to 23.7 ads per adult in the sector. This was reflected in the equivalent numbers for children, where exposure rose from 1.2 to 6.4 ads.

  • Other trends identified in the analysis show increased exposure to health and care products such as hair, oral hygiene and household cleaning supplies.