Staying On-Air: How TV Advertising Strengthens Brands During Economic Downturn

During times of economic downturn, it’s critical that businesses think cautiously about how and where their spending is distributed. When economic challenges present themselves on a global scale, it’s important to recognize where your audience is and how to reach them. Whether it be through creative messaging or allocating funds to advanced TV advertising channels, continuing to invest in advertising remains a crucial component of maintaining brand awareness.

Read on to explore three reasons to keep TV ads “on-air” during times of economic uncertainty.

TV is Brand-Building & Data-Driven

TV has long been the top-tier marketing vehicle for brands, with good reason. Amidst lower funnel performance-based tactics like programmatic, social, and search advertising, it remains an important platform for storytelling, legitimizing brands, and data-driven targetability.1 For a small or mid-sized company, these factors can make or break a business, especially when you consider the brand-building nature of TV.2 

Historically, TV viewership has risen in times of hardship, making TV ad impact even more valuable. Looking back at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, TV viewership rose almost immediately and was projected to increase at least 60%.3 Nielsen reported that connected TV viewership rose 81% in the first year of the pandemic—well beyond what was expected.4 Effectv found that this upswing equated to an average of over 6 hours of TV watching per day.5

Investments Today Pay Off in the Future

While slashing marketing budgets during declining economic conditions may seem like a good idea in the short-term, it could ultimately hurt in the long run when it comes to market share.

During the recession of the 1980s, McGraw Hill conducted a study with over 600 companies across 16 different industries. Some of them maintained or increased their advertising spend, while others cut or reduced it. In the end, companies who continued to advertise saw 256% higher sales than those that did not.6

More recent insights show a similar trend. Businesses that maintain their current ad spending during economic downturns increase their market shares 4x faster than in a normal economy, and businesses that increase their spending up to 50% can gain market share 7x faster.3

Businesses are Booming

While it is well established that TV drives outcomes for brands and businesses of all types, certain industries are thriving right now, despite ongoing economic uncertainty.

Animal care, residential remodeling, food delivery, and more all continue to expand their growth in 2022.7 International tourism increased 182% within the first three months of this year alone.8 Gaming remains one of the fastest growing industries, with more than 75% of households having at least one person who games.

With so many industries experiencing growth, even during financial uncertainty, data indicates that cutting ad spend now would hurt overall progress. In the past, businesses that have cut spending typically saw a 0% market share increase and sales that improved only after the economy started to stabilize (even that was a comparatively low 18% increase).3

Although uncertainty is temporary, it’s important to maintain a strong plan for when difficult times arise. Keeping ad spending steady, or even increasing it, is a necessity for businesses during economic downturn, particularly when it comes to TV advertising.



1. “The Halo Effect: TV as a Growth Engine,” Effectv, 2021
2. “Rules of Recession-Proofing,” Analytic Partners, 2022
3. “Insights on Sustaining and Growing Your Business During COVID-19,” Effectv, 2020
4. “Connected TV Usage Remains Above Pre-COVID-19 Levels as Traditional TV Viewing Normalizes,” The Nielsen Company, 2020
5. “The TV Viewership Report,” Effectv, 2021
6. “Advertising During a Recession,” MiQ, 2020
7. “The Fastest Growing Small Businesses in 2022,” Next Insurance, 2022
8. “International Travel Levels Tipped to Soar Again in 2022,” World Economic Forum, 2022