Ancestry sponsors ITV's Long Lost Family

Liam Loan-Lack
Liam Loan-Lack (former) Account Director


Ancestry is the market leader in family and war records worldwide, and through many years of forensically optimised TV buying, Initiative had saved Ancestry in excess of £5.2m (Source: Adalyser 2011-2014) in the cost of driving new users to visit - and try - the service online. However, the business was keen to understand what a shift of airtime into peak dayparts would deliver, while at the same time keeping cost efficiencies within tight parameters.

The challenge in a nutshell was: how to access peak airtime, without paying a premium, and in a way that would track back to the site?


Although TV spot tests up-weighting peak had been implemented, the value of this airtime was not fully attributable using the classic spot-matching techniques. We needed to prove not only that valuable, in-market consumers watched peak TV but that, even if their response was defined as being ‘lagged’ or not immediate, there was still robust reasons to use more peak airtime in our mix.

After extensive research of the media opportunities available, Initiative proposed to Ancestry its first ever TV Sponsorship in a bid to access peak airtime at significant discounts (compared to standard spot airtime) and to prove this ‘value’ of peak airtime.

The show was an ideal fit: it promised to be full of emotion, showing the intimate stories of real-people who were re-united with loved ones – giving viewers all the encouragement they would need to search online for their own undiscovered past.


The sponsorship was a resounding success for three reasons:

  1. Outstanding media value of £1.46m CTC – which is an impressive number considering we negotiated a price which was c.20% of that amount.
  2. The number of visitors to site, particularly during and post the shows’ transmission (21 hrs onwards) was over 80% higher than an average ‘non-Long Lost Family’ Day (using this as the Index of 100).

    Source: Adalyser/Initiative 2014

  3. The sponsorship afforded Ancestry access to much greater peak airtime than their “business as usual” TV spots:

    Source: BARB 2015 – Peak is both early and late peak