True crime is everywhere these days. Whether it be in the comedy trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, or the ever-increasing slate of true crime podcasts, crime obsession is all the rage right now. Those in the know say it started with Serial, and that’s not exactly wrong. Serial kicked off the true crime podcast craze, but as your mother can probably tell you, true crime has been around for a lot longer in the form of Dateline, 20/20, and 48 Hours. We’re going to dive into the advertising on these programs and look at the biggest numbers and trends from the original true crime TV shows.

Of the top ten most aired ads, three are from mobile service providers and five from pharmaceuticals. The other two rounding out the top ten are from Always and Peacock TV. Jardiance, Nurtec, and Consumer Cellular each have two ads in the top ten. The ad below is an example of what Consumer Cellular has been messaging on for the past year.

Who makes up the top advertisers during the original true crime tv shows? As evidenced in the table below, the top ten advertisers this year are made up of pretty standard advertisers. Kohl’s, Nurtec, and Consumer Cellular in the top ten are somewhat outside of the ordinary, but they’re well-known, national brands.

True Crime Top Advertisers

It’s not until you break things down by category that you begin to see that what we suspected all along was probably true. Household, beauty, specialty pharmaceuticals; this second graphic does a much better job at illustrating what audiences' advertisers think they’re advertising to during these shows: older women. Obviously, most of these categories apply to old and young, men and women, but beauty applies most widely to women, household goods advertisers still target women more than men, and specialty pharmaceuticals and consumer cellular are geared toward older watchers.

True Crime Top Advertising Categories

What’s very interesting is how 20/20, 48 Hours, and Dateline, which are nearly identical shows, attract different levels of advertising from each advertiser. For Example, if you were to watch 20/20 this year, you’d probably remember seeing a decent amount of advertising from Kohl’s, it’s the biggest advertiser during 20/20. However, if you watched 48 Hours, you’d never know it, Kohl’s ranks 72nd among advertisers during 48 Hours. This discrepancy likely has a lot to do with how inventory is sold, but with such similar shows and presumably similar audiences, you’d expect similar ad volume from brands. In fact, of the top 20 advertisers in terms of ad occurrences, Walmart (which ranks 14th) is the only brand to have a similar ad volume during all three programs.

In this mystery, the clues just confirm what we suspected all along: moms watch Dateline.

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