How Much Does It Cost To Advertise On TV In the UK

How Much Does It Cost To Advertise On TV In the UK

You never forget great TV ads. 

From drumming gorillas to Russian meerkats, TV advertising sticks in your head.

That’s why brands spent a record £7.1 billion on UK TV commercials in 2021.

And it's not just well-known brands that can benefit from TV advertising.

Small brands see the biggest lift in sales from running a promotional campaign on TV.

In 2021 over 1,000 new brands started using the medium.

What You Will Learn

✔️ How much does it cost to run a TV ad?
✔️ How can TV advertising benefit my business?
✔️ Will TV advertising give me the results I want?

What you could pay for TV advertising

Your budget for producing and running TV ads should be at least £100k.

You can do it for less on niche digital channels. 

But icon ads, like the John Lewis Christmas spectacular, are pricey. That one costs up to £1 million to make, and up to £6 million to schedule.

The two main costs:

  • Creative - the production costs to create the actual TV advert.
  • Media - the cost of purchasing the airtime your TV ad will play on.
The two main costs of TV ads

Creative Costs

You get what you pay for when it comes to the creative.

  • £25k -  get an impactful, fully-animated advert or spend one day shooting in a studio.
  • £50k - more creativity with original music and more than one actor.
  • £100k - multiple locations, multiple characters and bespoke music.
  • £250k - blockbuster style ad with celebrity endorsements.

Media Costs

Once you’ve made a great advert, people need to see it.

You’ll spend most of your budget on airtime.

The more people that see your ad, the higher the airtime cost will be. In June 2021 a 30-second ad on ITV would have cost you anything from £6 to £12,870. 

ITV viewing statistics

On average, every person seeing your ad will cost you 0.6p.

These are some of the factors that shape airtime costs:

  • Frequency
  • TV Channels 
  • National or regional reach
  • Time of day
  • Time of year
  • Broadcast TV or On Demand

Why advertise your business on TV?

TV is unrivalled for scale and reach.

ITV, biggest of the UK's commercial channels, reaches 38.5 million viewers a week. Most UK adults watch over 50 ads a day.

Most popular UK TV channels

You probably know that most people buy based on emotions. Emotions build trust. Adults are seven times more likely to trust a TV ad than an ad they see on YouTube.

Has a TV ad ever made you laugh out loud? Drawn a tear from your eye? Or prompted you to say, ‘We need one of those’? 

That’s the emotional power of TV ads. That’s why they can be so effective.

Great ads leave a long-lasting impression. When we see a great advert on TV, we don’t forget it.

TV ads aren’t limited to 30-second spots on broadcast channels. Ads can also come as:

  • Sponsorship deals
  • Ads on streaming services
  • Addressable ads (targeting ads to specific households)
  • Teleshopping (up to 30 minutes long)

There are more and more flexible opportunities to get your brand noticed.

Grow your business

75% of people make judgments on a companies credibility based on their website

Converting high quality customers starts with getting your website right.

ROI of TV advertising

If you think TV ads are expensive, you’re missing the point. 

The average ROI (total profit) on TV ad campaigns in the first six months, is £1.73 for every £1 spent.

The news only gets better as you look at the impact of TV ad campaigns over three years. That ROI number jumps to £4.20.

Yes, the bar to entry is higher than any other form of advertising. But it’s also the quickest to short-term profit, at scale.

Are small businesses missing an opportunity by ignoring TV ads?

Advertising on TV Pros and Cons table

The limitations of TV advertising


The ROI of TV advertising is attractive. But can you afford it?

Growing businesses should expect to spend at least 10% of their turnover on marketing. 

But when the budget starts around £20k, it’s still out of reach for many brands.

Reaching the right audience

TV ads are great for reaching a wide range of people. It’s not so good if you want to get in front of a niche audience. Even in its most targeted form, TV campaigns still reach an entire household, not an individual.

TV advertising is not flexible enough to truly personalise your message.

Measuring results

It’s hard to accurately track the results of your TV ads campaign.

Yes, you can implement some basic tracking techniques, such as a vanity URL or unique phone number on your ads. And you can track the overall changes in sales.
But there’s no easy-to-use system for accurately measuring how effective your TV ads are, or precisely who is seeing them.

Don't Waste Your Marketing Budget

Investing in any marketing without a website that compels people to buy your product could be costly. Get a website that drives you sales.

Your alternatives to TV advertising

If you’re considering TV ads, you really should look into other options.

Because there are other marketing channels that can work just as hard for your business as a TV ad, but the initial investment is much lower. 

These include:

  • Content marketing
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Social media marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Web development
  • Video production

Content marketing is particularly powerful. 

The average person in the UK spends more time online than they do watching TV. They’re on social media, they’re on Google, they’re watching YouTube videos.

A well-executed content marketing strategy gets your brand in front of these people while they’re online. The impact is amplified when it includes a website with clear messaging and strong calls to action.

Unlike TV ads, your brand isn’t presented to anyone who happens to be watching. Today’s tools make it easier to target those most likely to buy from you.

Insider Tip - Marketing budget based on turnover

Quick answers to questions about TV Ads

How much does it cost to advertise on TV?

Budget at least £20k for a small campaign.

That budget is split between production costs and airtime.

Once you’ve created your ad it can be used over and over again.

How much is a 30-second advert on ITV?

The cost of advertising slots on ITV varies throughout the day and the year.

A 30-second advert in daytime, shown across all ITV regions, will cost around £7k. This jumps to nearer £50k for prime time. 

Other TV advertising opportunities include sponsorship, licensing and video on demand.

Why should I advertise on TV?

The best TV ads make people laugh, cry and dream. They provoke strong emotions.

People trust TV ads.

Lots of people see and respond to these ads. This generates a robust ROI, creating opportunities to grow your business faster.

What is the ROI on TV advertising?

On average, every £1 spent brings in £1.73 during the first six months of an advertising campaign.

After three years that ROI rises to £4.20. 

These are numbers you can’t ignore.

Wrapping Up

Now you know:

  • A TV ad campaign will cost you at least £20k, and probably a lot more.
  • Your ad will be seen by millions of people.
  • You can expect a solid ROI, particularly over a few years.
  • It’s hard to target niche audiences with TV ads.
  • Tracking results of ad campaigns isn’t easy.
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