Television advertising

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Television advertising is any form of broadcasting commercials on television .


Mass media ( newspapers , magazines , cinemas , internet ) are ideally suited for advertising purposes because of their high degree of distribution; and radio and television are classic advertising . In addition to the cinema and the Internet, television offers the combination of acoustic and optical information for advertising purposes; one of the criteria is missing for the other advertising media. That is the reason why television advertising accounts for a large proportion of advertising revenues worldwide (in Germany: 21%). The dissemination of advertising messages is aimed at generating income that is generated through advertising. In television advertising, these revenues are the main source of income for private television and also play a major role for public television broadcasters . The income from television advertising depends to a decisive extent on the audience ratings of the advertising medium, so that the advertising medium must design its television programs in such a way that it promotes audience ratings. Since the right target group is important because of the potential buyers , extensive research is carried out on audience ratings and the program offering is often adapted accordingly. Advertisements are always seen by fewer viewers than the program surrounding them.


The first commercial was broadcast on commercial TV in the USA for a watch company. After the FCC had granted the NBC and CBS in New York the first broadcasting licenses for commercial television on July 1, 1941, the NBC station WNBT (now: WNBC) broadcast its first watch advertising on the afternoon of July 1, 1941. After it came into force on July 30, 1954, a Television Act enabled commercial television to be approved in Great Britain, whose radio and television programming had been dominated by the public service BBC until then . The first commercial appears on September 22, 1955 for a toothpaste, the first private channel there is the ITV company Associated Rediffusion , which has been broadcasting its weekday program since September 22, 1955.

Praesens-Film , founded in March 1924, is considered a pioneer of advertising film in Switzerland. Her advertising films about well-known Swiss brands were initially shown in cinemas. From February 1965, there was also television advertising in Switzerland. Because of the trilingual nature, she avoids so-called dialogue spots, in which the actors talk to each other as in a movie. This prevents dubbing in the other national languages.

In Germany, advertising was shown for the first time on November 3, 1956 , after the Bavarian Broadcasting Council had approved television advertising on May 4, 1956. In the program between half past eight and a 55-second commercial for the detergent Persil with Liesl Karlstadt and Beppo Brem was broadcast. The SFB followed on December 4, 1956. On September 2, 1958, the "Westdeutsches Werbefernsehen GmbH (WWF)" was founded as a wholly owned subsidiary of WDR with the aim of marketing advertising time in the evening program.

The development phase of public television should take place in Germany without any increases in fees, so that television advertising was expressly provided as a second source of income when the ZDF was founded in June 1961. The ZDF began on its second broadcast day, April 2, 1963, with television advertising.

The Federal Constitutional Court also approved this mixed financing of public television in October 1998. According to this, mixed financing is not constitutionally excluded. The legislature only has to take into account that the form of financing appropriate to public broadcasting is license fee financing and must not push this into the background through other forms of financing that are detrimental to the fulfillment of the function. Section 13 (1) of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty therefore clarifies that the primary source of funding is the license fee. In 2011, income from radio advertising and sponsorship contributed around 6% to the total income of the state broadcasters.

Measured in terms of net advertising income, television broadcasters recorded the highest advertising revenue in the media advertising market in 2011 with € 3.981 billion, which is 21% of total advertising income. Private television stations accounted for € 3.699 billion (share: 93%), and ARD and ZDF for € 283 million (7%). The number of minutes of TV commercials sent fell by 6.4% to 1.79 million, and the number of TV commercials from all broadcasters recorded also declined by 5.2% to 3.60 million. The average commercial length remained as in the previous year previously 30 seconds - in 2001 the value was 23 seconds long.

Legal bases

The scope and content of television advertising are specified in the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (RStV). Section 2 (2) No. 7 RStV initially contains a legal definition for advertising. According to this, advertising is “any utterance in the exercise of a trade, trade, craft or liberal profession, which is broadcast on the radio by a public or private broadcaster or a natural person either for payment or a similar consideration or as self-promotion with the aim to promote the sale of goods or the provision of services, including immovable property, rights and obligations, for a fee. " Worship broadcasts , children's programs (Section 7a (1) RStV) and news programs are free of advertising if they are shorter than 30 minutes (Section 7a para. 3 RStV). According to Section 7 Paragraphs 3 and 7 RStV, there are also advertising bans for surreptitious and subliminal (subliminal) advertising . Films, with the exception of series, series and documentaries, as well as feature films and news programs, may be interrupted for television advertising or teleshopping once for each programmed period of at least 30 minutes (Section 7a (3) RStV). In public broadcasting, television advertising time is limited to a maximum of 20 minutes on working days on an annual average (Section 16 (1) RStV), whereby the third-party programs must remain ad-free. In total, the duration of the advertising must not exceed 20% of the daily broadcast time, spot advertising is limited to 12 minutes per hour (Section 16 (3) RStV). While the distribution of commercials with private broadcasters is unlimited, the commercials with public providers must be done before 8 p.m. on weekdays. The requirement that advertising blocks must be spaced at least 20 minutes apart has been omitted since the 13th State Treaty on Broadcasting. There is a general advertising ban on television for tobacco products and prescription drugs.

Recognition and separation requirement of § 7 Abs. 3 RStV demand the easy recognizability and differentiation of the advertising from the editorial content (§ 7 Abs. 3 sentence 1 RStV) and the clear "separation" (separation) from other parts of the program (§ 7 Abs. 3 Sentence 3 RStV). According to the case law of the Federal Administrative Court, the principles of recognizability and separation serve the same goal, but each have an independent meaning. The principles of recognizability and separation serve the integrity of the editorial program and the protection of television viewers. They should guarantee a comprehensive and truthful formation of opinions and enable the viewer to distinguish visually and acoustically from the editorial program in order to avoid misleading and confusion. This is why the individual commercials on ARD and ZDF are separated from one another by cartoons or still images. The best known are the famous " Mainzelmännchen ", which accompany the advertising blocks as a separating criterion. The private broadcasters also follow the principle of separation through optical / acoustic displays. Other commercial separators have also become very well known and create an incentive, especially for children, to watch an advertising block.


In Germany, classic television advertising on public television began with the so-called advertising blocks ("commercial television"). These are several commercials that are broadcast within a fixed slot in one context and are mostly embedded in an attractive supporting program and must be broadcast between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Block advertising is the basic form for public and private broadcasting. The purpose of this regulation was to protect the program part from excessive fragmentation due to multiple commercial breaks, resulting in a loss of context for the viewer. This principle was only deviated from with the introduction of private television.

Since media law allows private television broadcasters more liberal advertising opportunities, the way and form of placing advertising spots have changed. The model was the “commercial breaks” in the USA and Great Britain. This so-called interruption advertising consists of at least one commercial within a program. It is inserted into a program and interrupts it at least once. Most of the time, however, there are two or more consecutive spots within a program, which are, however, subject to legal restrictions. The interval between the advertising blocks of at least 20 minutes no longer applies with the 13th Amendment to the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty. In the case of programs with “natural breaks” (half-time break in sports, between rounds in boxing), interruption advertising is also permitted. Hinge advertising, in turn, is an advertising block between an ending and a beginning program.

Private television has introduced several placement options, some of which have also been adopted by public broadcasters. One tries to react to the zapping behavior of the audience ; In addition, with time-shifted television, advertising blocks can easily be skipped or cut out by editing a recording before actually viewing the program.

  • Countdown spots are advertisements with the time shown in backwards running seconds when a program will be continued.
  • Split screen advertising uses screen splitting technology for advertising and parallel continuation of the program.
  • In tandem spots, there is a main spot with the central product statement, which is preceded and followed by a preparatory teaser spot leading to the main spot and / or a strengthening reminder spot . A tandem spot consists of two related elements within an advertising block that are separated from each other by at least one commercial (for a different product).
  • Flankers are the commercials placed before or after a broadcast.

Product placement and sponsoring already represent a link between editorial contributions and advertising.

Because advertising interrupts programming, program planners must consider the issue of audience retention. Through audience flow , viewers could migrate to other channels as part of the zapping and may not return to the original channel. Because over 50% of TV viewers and radio listeners switch off as soon as there is advertising; only 9% do not change programs.


The television stations also advertise their own programs through program notices. This is intended to achieve customer loyalty . Self-promotion is important because of the large number of competitors in order to distinguish yourself as a broadcaster. In-house productions are sometimes advertised more than a month before they are broadcast. Self-advertising can also be seen frequently on the channels of what is actually largely advertising-free pay-TV . Program information on our own account does not count as advertising.

Commercial film production

Television advertising is produced by specialized film production companies, the so-called advertising film productions , on behalf of the manufacturer of the product to be advertised. The conception is carried out by advertising agencies , the creative implementation by independent directors who are offered by the advertising film productions on a project-by-project basis and are contracted. Some of the German commercial film productions are represented in the advertising section of the Alliance of German Producers - Film & Television (before April 1, 2010: Association of German Post and Commercial Film Producers , VDW).

TV advertising in Germany

In today's television landscape, both public and private programs show advertisements; The duration and form of the advertising blocks as well as the interrupting advertising is regulated by the State Broadcasting Treaty.

The public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are partly financed by advertising. The primary source of funding is the broadcasting fee, which replaced the broadcasting fee (Section 13, Paragraph 1, Clause 1, 2nd half-sentence of the RStV) in 2013. The private stations, on the other hand, generate the majority of their income from renting out advertising time. While the private broadcasters regularly interrupt their broadcasts for commercials, the public broadcasters are subject to time restrictions.

TV advertising figures

Net sales of advertising television 2003 (2001) in million euros

  • ARD : 141.13 (166.73)
  • ZDF : 111.23 (147.77)
  • RTL : 1,152.40 (1,274.50)
  • RTL II : 223.20 (255.10)
  • Sat.1 : 777.30 (858.00)
  • ProSieben : 700.80 (875.00)
  • VOX : 230.40 (198.30)

TV commercial minutes:

  • 1997: 653.182
  • 1999: 821.577
  • 2001: 987.125
  • 2003: 998.205
  • 2011: 1.79 million

(Source: ZAW: Advertising in Germany)

Audience reception

The interruption of a program by commercials leads to wandering movements ( audience flow ), because over 50% of TV viewers and radio listeners switch off as soon as there is advertising; only 9% do not change programs by zapping . In order to improve the audience flow , the broadcasters have switched to replacing the hinge advertising blocks (an advertising block between an ending and a beginning new program; often as "countdown advertising") almost completely with interruption advertising (advertising block during a program). However, the commercial break churn rule does not always apply. An attractive series can cope with being interrupted by advertising after it has started because the viewer's interest prevents it from switching off or ensures a return; on the other hand, a lesser-known series on a smaller broadcaster could no longer recover from an early commercial break.

TV advertising in other European countries

TV advertising in Austria

On Austrian television, advertisements are shown on both the public ORF and private television programs ( ATV , Puls 4 , ServusTV ). With regard to advertising on public television, however, Austrian legislation is more permissive than in Germany. In the ORF programs, advertising can be broadcast all day long; In addition, the handling of it is nowhere near as cautious as with the German public service programs. Only 43 minutes of advertising may be broadcast per day and per channel. The ORF may not interrupt its broadcasts with commercial breaks, except those where the "dramaturgy" (wording of the ORF law) allows this (e.g. between two halves of football matches, during the break of live concert performances, etc.) Nowadays it happens more often that programs that could normally be transmitted uninterrupted are deliberately designed in two parts with a short pause in between in order to be able to send additional advertising.

TV advertising in Switzerland

Using the advertising freedoms that were newly regulated in the Radio and Television Act (RTVG) in April 2007, an improved environment for television advertising was created. The German commercials disappeared from almost all channels. For SRG programs, the RTVG allows a maximum of one interruption in programs that last longer than 90 minutes. Similar regulations as in Germany apply to licensed programs and the advertising windows. This has consequences for the advertising window in particular. Split-screen advertising is now also newly approved in Switzerland - in SRG programs, however, only for the transmission of sporting events. The advertising of alcoholic beverages is subject to certain restrictions . A ten-year comparison 1997–2007 shows that television advertising in Switzerland achieved significant growth. The number of advertising blocks has tripled, and the advertising time broadcast has more than quadrupled.

Great Britain and Scandinavia

In many countries, however, the separation between private and public broadcasters is more stringent. In the UK, for example, commercial broadcasters rely solely on advertising revenue, while the public BBC is funded solely through fees. To date, the two television programs BBC1 and BBC2 have remained completely free of advertising. Public television programs are also free of advertising in the Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, for example, television advertising was completely unknown until commercial television was approved in the 1990s.


In France, France Télévisions should be subject to an advertising ban from 2011, but it will not be introduced before 2014.



  • Advertising from the flicker box - the history of commercial television , DVD, 110 minutes, stapler film . Trailer

See also

Web links

Commons : Television Commercials  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: TV advertising  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hauke ​​Wagner, Opportunities for Commercials on TV and the Internet , 2002, p. 24.
  2. Susanne Dietrich, Structure and Financing of Public Broadcasting Companies , 2007, p. 9.
  3. Markus Aerni / Manfred Bruhn, Integrated Communication , 2008, p. 122.
  4. Eric Karstens / Jörg Schütte, Praxishandbuch Fernsehen: How TV transmitters work , 2009, p. 348.
  5. René Bogdanski, On the use of varieties of German in advertising , 2007, p. 21.
  6. WDR note “Stichtag” from 2006 about the first commercial on German television in 1956
  7. Internal, article broadcast advertising from October 29, 2010 ( Memento of the original from December 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Christine Hämmerling, "Today is a Holiday": Freizeitbilder in der Fernsehwerbung , 2012, p. 37.
  9. BVerfGE 90, 60, 90
  10. Central Association of the German Advertising Industry from January 4, 2013, TV keeps the monetary peak
  11. Rundfunkstaatsvertrag in the version of April 1, 2010 ( memento of the original of August 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file; 381 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. BVerwG, ruling v. 14.10.2015 - 6 C 17/14, NVwZ-RR 2016, 142
  13. Thomas Mayer, Media Law in the Context of Locationally Relevant Factors , 1997, p. 270.
  14. Christine Pichinot, Convergence of the Media in Europe , 2005, p. 164.
  15. Michael Charlton / Klaus Neumann-Braun / Stefan Aufenanger / Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem, TV advertising and children , 1995, p. 54.
  16. Martin glasses, media management , 2011, p. 117.
  17. a b Tobias Gereth / Björn Bedey, Age Power 2010: Successful Best-Ager-Marketing , 2006, p. 134.
  18. Kai Wengenroth, New Forms of Revenue in Television , 2004, p. 58.
  19. Eric Karstens / Jörg Schulte, Praxishandbuch Fernsehen: How TV transmitters work , 2009, p. 261.
  20. ^ Burda News Group, TV advertising in Switzerland
  21. IfM - France Télévisions SA ( Memento of the original of December 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Accessed October 24, 2011