How to make your ads clear

18th September 2019

Niamh McGuinness, Head of Copy Clearance

This article was originally published in Campaign Magazine on 11th September 2019

Clearcast services underpin UK TV advertising but the organisation can be something of a mystery to people who don’t work with it often. Last year Clearcast celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that time, its processes, systems and services have advanced and made it the integral pillar of the advertising community it is today.

In a nutshell, what does Clearcast do?
Clearcast exists to make it easier to get ads to air. As well as clearing TV ads, we advise on BVoD ads and run a training programme. We commission CARIA, which handles media bookings and copy instructions for TV and BVoD in the UK and Eire, and our Attribution metadata underpins post-campaign analysis. We can help with international clearances, via our TV Admin service, and can edit ads to ensure they meet the supers and flashing rules.

Why is Clearcast still needed?
By law, TV broadcasters must pre-clear ads, and a Clearcast clearance gets an ad on most UK channels. If our expert team didn’t exist, agencies would have to clear an ad separately with every broadcaster carrying it. With trust in advertising at an all-time low, Clearcast helps protect the reputation of broadcasters and advertisers. The main broadcasters also get our advice for BVoD so viewers can have confidence in the ads on their catch-up services. In some ways other video services are playing catch-up: according to the ASA, complaints about online ads outnumbered cases related to TV ads by almost three to one in 2018.

How is Clearcast responding to today’s increased pace?
What we do takes time, but last year we improved our turnaround time KPI for scripts from four days to three (85% of script submissions responded to within three days); for TVCs it’s 95% in two days. We’re smashing this: from January-July we responded to 94% of scripts within three days and 99% of TVCs in two. Submissions that have to go to consultants, of course, take longer.

We recently launched a Fast Track service for clients on tight deadlines. This guarantees turnaround within a day for a small fee. Feedback has been very positive.

We are increasingly working with agencies at an earlier stage. Our Copy Development service is useful for ads breaking new ground or in heavily regulated categories. We also offer On-Set Guidance so agencies can get our advice as they’re filming.

What are you proudest about at Clearcast?
We’re much more responsive now. Our latest agency satisfaction survey shows that 78% of respondents feel Clearcast serves agencies well or very well, with 69% rating turnaround times excellent or good. The latter measure has doubled the equivalent figure from 10 years ago. We’re also proud to have been classed as Outstanding by Best Companies based on staff feedback.

What does the future hold?
There will only be more ads, in a wider variety of formats, with some created on the fly or from ‘building blocks’. That presents challenges, but I’m confident Clearcast will continue to adapt and meet them. 

Top five tips for speedier ad-clearing

1. Book yourself on a Clearcast training course – the better you understand how and why Clearcast works the way it does, the more time you’ll save.

2. Identify any claims in your ad script and submit any substantiation you have for them with the first version of your script. If we’ve previously approved a claim you’re making again in a new ad, let us know the clock number of the previous ad.


3. Where claims are complex or your creative may otherwise fall foul of the rules, use our copy development service to help shape your concepts and creative and nip problems in the bud. 

4. Allow enough time for your ad’s clearance – it is an integral part of the ad production process.

5. If you are working to a particularly tight timescale, consider making use of Clearcast’s new Fast Track clearance service.

Picture courtesy of Campaign; photographer Dan Wooller