Brands Get Creative: How TV Ads Have Adapted to Changing Landscape in 2020


With COVID-19 concerns continuing through Q3, brands kept reframing creative that progressed from an early PSA style that discussed “getting through it,” to one that leans directly into social norms like masks and distance as part of doing business today.

And with production limitations still in effect, user-generated content (UGC) continues to be a popular and low-cost move for ad creative, along with iPhone cuts and limited interactions from actors. Plus, with open/closed standards differing from market to market, brands are also tasked with airing national ads that don’t leave certain audiences out depending on state or local limitations.

Key Takeaways

  • Among the top industries, as measured by iSpot, in terms of impressions increases in Q3: Education (67%), Home & Real Estate (33%) and Health & Beauty (30%)
  • The glut of new streaming services and audiences stuck at home combined to lift impressions by more than 160% for services like Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock and more
  • Insurance brands remained some of the top advertisers on TV in Q3: GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and State Farm were all among the top 10 brands by impressions
  • Travel brand impressions are still down over 60% YoY, but some companies — like Expedia — are getting creative with how they encourage consumers to travel (safely and/or in the future)
  • Election Day continued to drive political advertising, which saw 151% increase compared to the same timeframe last year

Why It Matters

With uncertainty around TV schedules continuing into the fall and lockdowns remaining in effect around the country, brands have challenges ahead for the rest of 2020. But understanding how certain brands and industries are responding to the current environment sets successful examples for others.

Hurdles will continue to exist, but brands can get creative with TV ads that both acknowledge our current moment, and provide a break for consumers looking for some return to what they’d consider “normal” — even if it’s just a meal to-go, some new clothes or an on-demand movie rental.

If you’d like to learn more about how brands continued to evolve approaches to TV advertising, and how many industries grew impressions in Q3, download iSpot’s new report below.

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