A television advertisement (also called a television commercial, commercial, advert, TV advert or simply an ad) is a span of television programming produced and paid for by an organization. It conveys a message promoting, and aiming to market, a product or service. Advertisers and marketers may refer to television commercials as TVCs.
Advertising revenue provides a significant portion of the funding for most privately owned television networks. During the 2010s, the number of commercials has grown steadily, though the length of each commercial has diminished. Advertisements of this type have promoted a wide variety of goods, services, and ideas ever since the early days of the history of television. The viewership of television programming, as measured by companies such as Nielsen Media Research in the United States, or BARB in the UK, is often used as a metric for television advertisement placement, and consequently, for the rates which broadcasters charge to advertisers to air within a given network, television program, or time of day (called a “daypart”).
In many countries, including the United States, television campaign advertisements are commonplace in a political campaign. In other countries, such as France, political advertising on television is heavily restricted, while some countries, such as Norway, completely ban political advertisements.
The first official, paid television advertisement came out in the United States on July 1, 1941, over New York station WNBT (subsequently WNBC) before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The announcement for Bulova watches, for which the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 (reports vary), displayed a WNBT test pattern modified to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase “Bulova Watch Time”, appeared in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one minute. The first TV ad broadcast in the UK went on air on ITV on September 22, 1955, advertising Gibbs SR toothpaste. In Asia, the first TV ad broadcast appeared on Nippon Television in Tokyo on August 28, 1953, advertising Seikosha (subsequently Seiko); it also displayed a clock with the current time.
The television market has grown to such an extent that it was estimated to reach $69.87 billion for TV ad spending in the United States for 2018.