By Olivia Atkins, Writer

September 20, 2022 | 8 min read

Sponsored by:

What's this?

Sponsored content is created for and in partnership with an advertiser and produced by the Drum Studios team.

Find out more

TV advertising has returned as a desirable marketing format post-pandemic. New research from Thinkbox shares why it’s proving so successful, its cost efficiency and how marketers can embrace this change.

Exploring formats: The return to TV advertising

Exploring formats: The return to TV advertising

With the pandemic exacerbating the rise of e-commerce, online businesses are increasingly turning to TV to scale up their growth.

As part of The Drum’s Evolution of E-commerce Deep Dive, Thinkbox’s research and planning director Matt Hill suggests e-commerce marketers explore different marketing formats – from radio and print to TV; continue testing their creativity to ensure it’s optimized for their chosen platform; and consider enlisting a creative and/or media partner to help activate their growth strategy.

Exploring formats: the return to TV advertising?

The online retail sector boomed during the height of the pandemic as many consumers turned online to make their purchases. And it looks like the trend is here to stay.

“It will be challenging for retailers without physical presence,” he says. “There’s no serendipity with an online business; you can’t walk down the street and discover a new store and just go in. You have to discover it in a different way. Advertising is absolutely crucial to that growth.”

Watch the full video interview above.

Given that most of these marketers were born online, they have an in-depth knowledge of CRM and paid for social marketing, but they can get stuck when operating outside of these spaces and directly navigating their marketing spend.

Thinkbox’s recently-released research ‘The TV playbook for online businesses’ reveals that online businesses are increasingly using TV advertising to fuel their growth – and Hill believes that this willingness to consider new channels, albeit established ones, is vital for e-commerce expansion.

“A lot of brands hit the ceiling with search and social advertising,” says Hill. “They’ve got to a point where they are spending additional money without driving incremental growth. They need to start expanding outside of that world to get their brand awareness up among customers who haven’t yet seen it. And TV – because of its scale – is really good at delivering that.”

Most of these marketers are wanting to scale up quickly and standout from their competitors.

“TV is a powerful storytelling medium,” says Hill. “Our research showed that it’s a good space for demonstrating what your product does while TV viewers who see it are much more likely to engage with the advertising, spend longer on your site and go on to buy.”

He cites Peloton and Rightmove as key market leaders within their categories because of their ability to use TV advertising at scale and succeed in explaining what they do.

Optimizing platforms and considering costs

Paid search advertising is a popular tool used by advertisers in the early stages of business, because it does well to drive customers towards websites. But it’s an expensive strategy long-term. TV on the other hand is a much more cost-effective solution.

“TV is a really good way of getting your brand name into people’s heads,” says Hill. “There’s a much higher chance they’ll type your brand name in when they need your product. It’s a much cheaper way of driving search.”

TV is perceived to be an expensive format, but Hill says: “The cost per visit for TV was comparable with customer visits driven by search advertising.”

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

It’s also a much more credible platform that works at instilling trust in consumers.

“When people see advertising across social, they tend to do their research before buying,” adds Hill. “But on TV, the advertising is naturally trusted. And people are more willing to directly spend as a result of seeing the ad.”

E-commerce marketers should consider experimenting with different platforms to understand what works and which will best suit their needs.

Adding partners into the mix

A lot of online businesses start out using paid search and social advertising and they tend to take all of the creative and marketing tasks in-house. Once they start to expand, they might move across to radio, print and out-of-home (OOH), but it would be risky or overwhelming to oversee all platforms.

E-commerce advertisers wanting to scale up should partner with companies that have the expertise, knowledge and experience of operating in the spaces they want to expand into.

“I recommend that e-commerce advertisers work with a media agency and a creative agency if you want to make a decent ad,” he says. “Making a TV ad is different to making small bits of social content; it’s a more expensive job and you’ll want to monetize that over a longer period of time. You will get more for your money if you work with the specialists.”

During these uncertain times, it’s hard to predict which strategies and platforms will thrive and which will suffer. “But whatever you do, don’t cut off your marketing,” says Hill. “Don't stop. “There’s challenges to face but it takes a long time to regain momentum once you lose it. Find a way to maintain your online presence during this cost of living crisis and think carefully about your messaging.”

Watch the full video interview above.

Future of TV TV Advertising E-commerce

Content created with:


Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. It works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get...

Find out more

More from Future of TV

View all