Television’s Biggest Advertisers Spent Almost $10 Billion in 2019

The retail industry spent more on TV ads in 2019 than any other

dollar bills flowing out of a TV
New advertisers spent more than $1 billion on TV in 2019. Aşkın Dursun Kamberoglu/Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Major advertisers are still spending big on traditional TV. The 10 biggest advertisers spent nearly $10 billion on television ads this year combined, and more than 2,000 companies made national TV part of their media mixes for the first time, according to an analysis of TV trends from the advertising intelligence platform MediaRadar.

According to the analysis, which MediaRadar exclusively provided to Adweek, the major TV ad spenders are the usual brand suspects, including Procter & Gamble, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, AT&T, T-Mobile and PepsiCo, along with auto brands General Motors, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota.

Overall, though, the retail industry spent more on television ads in 2019 than any other, accounting for nearly 15% of all national TV ads.

“Increased spend from ecommerce sites such as Amazon, Wayfair and even smaller sites like Etsy moved the needle enough to make retail 2019’s biggest TV ad-buying industry,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar, in a statement about the findings.

More than 2,000 brands were new to television advertising, including DTC brands like courier Postmates, fitness company Mirror and financial services firm Robinhood. Brands that were newcomers to television advertising spent more than $1 billion combined on TV ads this year.

TV ads got shorter in 2019, clocking in at an average 24 seconds in length compared to last year’s 26 seconds. Fifteen-second ads were more popular in 2019 than they were a year ago, accounting for 57% of all TV ads in 2019. Thirty-second ads, meanwhile, accounted for a little more than a third of all TV ads. The percentage of 60-second ads dropped on TV from 7% to 5%, MediaRadar found.

Those results are a continuation of previous reports, including from MediaRadar, showing that preferred TV ad lengths among advertisers is shortening. “We have once again found the 15-second ad length to be the crowd favorite,” Krizelman said.

TV advertising spend has remained a crucial part of the equation for established and upstart companies alike. The top 125 DTC brands spent $3.8 billion on TV advertising in 2018, according to a June report from the Video Advertising Bureau. Connected TV spend, especially, is on the rise: According to a November eMarketer report, connected TV advertising spend will reach nearly $7 billion by the end of this year.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.