This article originally ran on AW360.
A quarter of a century ago, “Friends” premiered on NBC, introducing us to six NYC singles as they navigated love, work and life. Throughout 10 seasons, “Friends” established itself as a cultural phenomenon – for those who watched it live and, thanks to ample cross-platform syndication, for an entirely new generation born after 1994.
With all the buzz around the 25th anniversary of “Friends,” the team at TVSquared wanted to find out just how effective the syndicated sitcom was for advertisers. To do this, we analyzed 2019 response, cost and audience data from all of our U.S.-based clients that aired spots during “Friends” on ad-supported networks. Here’s what we found:
Turns out, “Friends” had some of the highest TV-driven response rates we’ve ever seen. When we say “response,” we mean the immediate action a viewer takes after watching a TV ad – things like online sales, search, site visits, app activity, SMS, etc. Compared to other syndicated sitcoms, “Friends” performed 74% better. When we compared it to all other programming (syndicated and current sitcoms, dramas, reality series, etc. – literally everything), “Friends” had a response rate of 131% above average. These numbers are impressive – even more so for a show that’s been off the air for 15+ years.
MORE INVENTORY, HIGHER COSTS
We found that the amount of spot inventory for “Friends” went up significantly in 2019. With audience impressions through the roof – beating all other syndicated sitcoms 10:1 – “Friends” is a hot commodity for advertisers, and networks, naturally, are taking advantage of that. A spot running during “Friends” was, on average, 55% more expensive vs. other syndicated sitcoms.
Despite the cost, “Friends” drove incredible, consistent response levels, making it an effective buy for our advertisers in terms of ROI.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ADVERTISERS?
The incredibly high performance that “Friends” generates begs the question, “why?” It’s likely due to a multitude of reasons, which have been written about at length. For TVSquared, we look at the data alone – and the data tells us it’s working (really, really well).
These findings go to show that advertisers can never make assumptions about program-level performance. Just because a show is highly rated, nominated for awards or the subject of major buzz doesn’t necessarily mean it will drive response. The only way to know which programs are working (and which are not) is through continuous campaign measurement and optimization.
Check out TVSquared’s infographic to get more insights into how “Friends” is working for advertisers across industries.