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The power of creative: Five golden rules to design TV advertising that drives profitability

Shaun Austin Head of Media 11/04/2022

Choosing the right advertising platform is crucial to marketing teams, particularly in the current climate where ad spend is suffering as a result of budget cuts.

However, that doesn’t stand true for all channels; TV advertising looks set to be the most resilient advertising medium this winter.

As December approaches, we begin to wind-down and settle into the festive period - which for many, involves the consumption of seasonal television films, making the ad space between screenings gold dust for brands.

Delivering the perfect creative relies on a mix of art and science, and the science part of the process is crucial to optimizing creative as well as maximising ROI.

According to the AA/WARC’s latest press release, UK ad spend rose 28.3% to a total of £8.6bn in Q1 FY22, forecasting a full year rise of almost 11%. Q4 ad spend is typically the largest, due to Christmas advertising – and with the FIFA World Cup approaching, the ‘Golden Quarter’ might just be the most lucrative few months advertisers have seen in years.

One of the reasons for TV’s resilience is its ability to continue to reach audiences at scale and deliver ROI. However, powerful and effective creative is critical in order to leverage the benefits that TV advertising can bring; especially since consumers saw an average of 41 ads a day this year (Statista, 2022).

Yet when was the last time you saw a memorable or compelling TV ad? Adverts are supposed to engage, and the power of creative is crucial in driving this, from both an engagement but also an emotional perspective.

Golden rules for winning creative

Delivering the perfect creative relies on a mix of art and science, and the science part of the process is crucial to optimizing creative as well as maximizing ROI.

An advert primarily has two key roles, influencing both short-term sales, as well as longer-term brand equity. It’s therefore important to measure an ad’s ability to persuade consumers to buy/use a brand by creating empathy, relevance, or interest, as well as its ability to influence a brand’s implicit or emotional imagery (connection) for the longer term. The more an ad achieves both of these, the better.

We believe there are five golden rules that impact the bottom line when optimizing your creative:

1. Identify the key scenes helping to drive emotional positioning and key messaging. 

First off, it’s important to measure how a brand positions an ad emotionally, to understand its emotional footprint. We can achieve this through word association using pre-verified adjectives, which help to understand how the ad is reinforcing its emotional positioning (or not as the case may be).

2. Time is of the essence – engage viewers from the start. 

Essentially, adverts that communicate faster emotionally are more effective. Using Timed Emotional Response (TER), we can measure the implicit response to a brand as portrayed by the ad, accessing what the viewer really thinks – even if they don’t want to reveal it. We know that people who react positively towards an ad (i.e., those who are persuaded), take less time to decide which adjective to choose – up to four seconds more quickly in our tests.

3. Ensure the key elements stand out and are effective at generating feelings about the brand.

Stronger more persuasive ads communicate emotional positioning more effectively. Our likeability trace/video rating tool is very important. By identifying the scenes driving the key messages we can see if they are working as expected. Those ads that are most engaging and persuasive tend to build fast at the beginning, continue to climb in the middle and end on a high.

4. Understand the nature and strength of implicit as well as explicit (rational) communication. 

Emotional outtake from any ad is crucial and you need to be able to pinpoint how strongly an ad communicates at both levels. Biometric techniques help to understand the strength of emotion. The more an advert evokes the right emotion the easier it is for consumers to make positive brand decisions. If an advert doesn’t make people feel anything, then it won’t work. Emotional advertising is twice as efficient as rational and delivers nearly twice the profit.

5. Identify those elements that hinder effectiveness so they can be worked on and improved. 

You need to identify the scenes that are driving key objectives, as well as the scenes that are working hardest to convey your brand’s image. All is not lost if an advert doesn’t deliver in the test phase. Modelling can help test hypotheses to see the impact on persuasion levels. Brands can then re-shape scenes to ensure the correct message is conveyed to the consumer to help engagement and ultimately improve ROI.


We’ve evaluated the effectiveness of hundreds of advertising, sponsorship and influencer campaigns, helping clients to build stronger and deeper relationships with their audiences, secure budget for future campaigns and spotting opportunities for growing revenues. Why not find out how we can help your brand?

For more information on our approach to measuring advertising campaign effectiveness please get in touch.

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