A TV ad is a 15 to 60-second video that’s aired during television show breaks to market a business’ products or services or to build brand awareness. Businesses pay $5 to $34 per 1,000 viewers for a local TV ad and an average of $115,000 for national 30-second ad airings.
TV Advertising Costs
For local television stations, advertisers can expect to pay a minimum of $5 per 1,000 viewers for a 30-second commercial. Based on data provided by Adage, a 30-second spot broadcast nationally averages around $115,000 in 2019. The average cost placements for 30-second Super Bowl ads can go for upward of $5.25 million.
Factors That Determine Television Advertising Cost
Television advertising is priced on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, which is the cost for your ad to be seen by 1,000 people. The CPM varies widely depending on a few different factors, the biggest of which is location. To get estimate costs for airing a 60-second TV commercial in different markets, consider the following figures from the experts at Casual Precision, a media agency that specializes in offline advertising (TV and radio).
60-second Television Ad Cost Estimates by Market 2019
|New York City|
To determine your approximate ad costs, divide the total viewership by 1,000. Then, multiple this number by your market’s CPM rate above. For example, if you want to show your commercial in Los Angeles and your local station tells you that 500,000 people will see your ad, then your cost equation will be (500,000 / 1,000) x 34.75. This equals a total ad cost of $17,375.
Factors Affecting TV Ad Cost
The CPM depends on how desirable the audience is to potential advertisers. For example, a TV show with a primarily female audience will be more desirable for a company that sells products that are purchased primarily by women. Additionally, viewer demographics, timing, and the location in which the ad airs can mean higher or lower ad costs.
These are the primary factors affecting television advertising costs:
- Age of viewers: The demographic that spends the most is adults ages 25 to 54, so most advertisers will target them.
- Gender: Gender plays an important role in defining audience desirability, and some shows heavily target male audiences while others target a predominantly female viewership.
- Network and TV show: TV networks that air popular shows will be able to charge more for their advertising spots. For example, you can expect to pay over $285,000 to air your commercial during “The Big Bang Theory.”
- Broadcast vs cable: Broadcast refers to the local station affiliates of national networks such as ABC, NBC, and CBS. Cable refers to the stations that you have to pay extra for, such as MTV, VH1, and TLC. The CPM to advertise on a local broadcast station is typically less than cable, since cable attracts a more targeted and wealthier demographic.
- Live viewership: Advertisers are willing to pay more for programming that’s watched live since you can’t fast-forward through live broadcast commercials. This is a big reason why ads during important sports games are so expensive.
- Time of day: Prime-time ad spots are in the evening between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., when most people are watching TV. Given the expanded viewership, the cost of ads run during this period is typically higher than other times of the day.
- Geographical location: More advertisers want to air their commercials in big cities so they can reach more viewers with one commercial, which is why the cost to advertise in New York City is so much more than the cost in a small town.
- Time of year: The fourth quarter of the year has the highest competition for ad space because businesses want to get their commercials in before the holidays. Contrarily, account executives selling advertising spots are more willing to negotiate a lower price at the beginning of the year.
- National or local events: If there’s a highly contested political race coming up, candidates will be willing to pay a higher than usual price for TV advertising. Other events, such as anticipated sporting events (e.g., the Olympic Games or the Super Bowl), can also drive up costs.
- Supply of ad spots: There are typically four commercial breaks in a half-hour show, each lasting two minutes (equivalent to 16 30-second commercials). Naturally, this limits the total number of ad spots available to advertisers.
As you consider TV advertising, remember that costs can vary depending on factors like the general demographics of the viewers, where and when the advertisement runs, the size of the viewership, and audience behavioral factors like whether or not viewers can fast forward through commercials. Keeping these in mind will help prepare you for changing ad cost quotes.
Who Television Advertising Is Right For
The expense of TV advertising—averaging $5,000 per million viewers of a local airing and $115,000 for a national airing of a 30-second commercial—is often a deterrent for budget-strapped small businesses. However, it does create sales-generating buzz around products, particularly those with a pleasant aesthetic. For example, restaurant, car dealerships, travel, health and fitness, and fashion brands all benefit from the visual appeal of TV ads.
The following types of businesses can benefit most from online advertising:
- Restaurants: Everyone needs to eat, so the limited targeted options of TV advertising is not an issue for most restaurants; in fact, it offers a wider audience than most magazine or newspaper ads. In addition, the visual component of TV advertising allows restaurants to showcase their in-store experiences and beautiful dishes to create more appeal.
- Car dealerships: Many people purchase cars based on their visual components (space, color, number of seats, and luxury amenities, for example). A TV advertisement helps car dealerships advertise these features.
- Travel and hospitality businesses: Travel and hospitality businesses sell experiences. Experiences are best showcased audio-visually. TV advertising allows businesses to explore vacation destinations with breathtaking graphics and sound.
- Health and fitness businesses: Health and fitness brands advertise by showcasing the cosmetic results of their programs, equipment, and services. TV advertising accomplishes this more effectively than static ads, revealing fit customers who are athletic, happy, and handsome.
- Fashion brands: Like health and fitness brands, fashion advertising entices people to purchase based on looks. The best way to advertise these looks is via a visual medium like television, where customers can see the glamour of various clothes as people wear them.
How to Create a Television Advertisement in 9 Steps
To create a television advertisement, decide on which station you want to run your ad, when you want to run it, what costs are associated with it, and how to maximize your budget. Then, create your ad, buy your ad spots, and, after your ads have been launched, measure their impact.
1. Decide Whether TV Advertising Is Right for Your Budget
There are several different advertising venues available to small businesses, including local TV, local radio, regional newspaper ads, and Google Ads. Each has its own cost as well as a balance of pros and cons. Before you pick one, examine them side-by-side. Start by learning the cost associated with each medium, then test ads on less expensive mediums. If you still feel TV advertising is the right fit for your business needs, then move ahead with creating your TV ad.
Television vs Newspaper vs Radio vs Online Advertising Cost
|Regional Newspaper Ads|
Sources: SmallBizTrends, Skyworks Marketing
According to the Small Business Administration, one 30-second television commercial during prime-time viewing (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) can cost 10 to 30 times more than one radio spot during drive time (which is considered prime listening time) or a full page ad in the newspaper. The cost to start advertising your small business online is even less expensive, since you can set your budget as low as $1 per day on Facebook and Google.
Test Advertising on More Affordable Mediums First
Given the high cost of advertising, it’s recommended that businesses first consider more affordable advertising avenues, such as radio, newspaper, or online ads. Since these mediums are less expensive than TV advertising, you can use them to affordably test which message works best for your business. If more affordable ads are not reaching a large enough audience or producing results, then consider either broadcast or TV advertising.
Test Local Newspaper Advertising
Local newspapers have some of the same appeal as a local TV station: They target a wide audience. This is great for awareness-stage advertising when you just want to get the word out locally that your business exists without limiting the exposure to a certain target group. This is better for businesses that appeal to most people, like grocery stores or restaurants.
Test Local Radio Advertising
Radio allows you to add an audio component to your advertising. However, as it clearly has no visual component, it costs less than TV advertising. Targeting on radio ads is similar to targeting on television; audiences can be chosen based on program or show type. So, it’s a good way to test the success of semi-targeted ads to determine if TV advertising might be an effective medium.
Test Online Advertising
Online advertising can be more affordable compared to other mediums (starting at $5 per day on social media platforms like Facebook). You must know your audience well before advertising here, because most online advertising platforms ask for detailed information about your target audience—including their demographics, income, education, interests, and buying behavior. If you don’t yet know a lot about your audience, you need to put in the time to research. Here is a Facebook advertising guide to help you get started.
The cost to advertise on TV, radio, and newspapers varies depending on the medium’s popularity and reach. Advertising in a national newspaper is costlier than advertising in a local gazette or neighborhood paper, for example. Oftentimes, the local, less expensive options work best for small local businesses. You can test these cheaper options before moving on to regional and national versions of each medium.
2. Decide Between Broadcast & Cable TV Advertising
Broadcast refers to TV stations that broadcast over public airwaves, and includes both national networks (such as ABC) and local affiliates such as WABC (ABC’s NYC affiliate). Cable includes the stations that viewers have to pay extra for, such as MTV. Once you’ve decided to run a TV ad, consider which distribution is best for your brand. To do so, review the biggest differences between broadcast and cable networks—largely based on reach and audience interest.
Here are the primary differences between broadcast and cable networks:
Broadcast Reaches More People
Because everyone has access to broadcast (as there is no paywall), your ads will show to a wider audience. This means you cannot target your advertising as well but if your goal is general brand awareness, this is a good fit.
Cable Targets by Interest
TV shows that air on cable can attract a very specific audience. For example, there is a big difference between the interests of those who watch The History Channel and those who watch MTV. If only a specific group of people will be interested in your product or service, you will probably want to go with a relevant cable show. This will limit your ad reach, so be sure your goals fit with your chosen cable network’s audience.
3. Determine the Station on Which to Run Your Ad
In order to determine the station on which you should advertise, you will need to know your target audience’s demographics. This includes customer age, gender, income, and education level. Survey your existing customers to find this information. Then, research viewer demographics by station and find the one that best fits your audience.
Survey Customers to Learn Audience Demographics
To survey your customers, create questions about their demographic information using form creator like Google Forms, then distribute it by email. Offer an incentive to fill it out—a free drink or dessert if you are in the restaurant business, for example—and ask for an email address to send them the confirmation coupon. Or, read our guide on creating a form-based landing page and offer a downloadable coupon as your incentive.
In your survey, ask questions like the following:
- Age: In what age bracket do you belong (12-20; 21-30; 31-40; 41 or older)?
- Income: What is your household income?
- Education: What is your education level?
- Location: In what city do you reside?
- Gender: Do you identify as male or female?
- Employment: Are you employed? If so, what is your occupation?
Google Forms then makes analysis easy by providing charts of the answers. You can view the percentage of people who gave the same response, allowing you to easily create a demographic profile of your most frequent customers.
Research Network Demographics
Now match your audience demographics to those of television stations. Many television stations publish viewer demographics online, including the average audience member age, household incomes, and education level. Many stations even have information about the number of children in a household, which can further help you hone your targeting. Start by examining average viewer ages, then dig into additional viewer data using online sources.
Average Age of Network Viewers
|Fox News Channel|
Source: National Media Spots
You can see from this chart that the cable television demographic is skewing towards the 45-and-over age range. If your business leans toward the younger demographic, traditional TV ads may not be the best option for you. In fact, 52% of adults age 18 to 34 use on-demand video services like Netflix and Amazon video, according to Leichtman Research. Some on-demand services, such as HBO Go, stream ads. Others, like Netflix, do not.
After you’ve reviewed the average audience age of various networks, research additional demographics data by visiting the National Media Spots website. Simply scroll down and click on station icons to learn their viewer demographics.
4. Calculate Your TV Advertising Costs
To calculate your TV advertising costs, you must first learn the estimated number of people who would likely watch the show that includes your desired ad slot, then determine the average CPM the channel charges. Multiply them together to get your per ad cost. Then, multiply that by how many times you are going to run your ad.
Consider these factors to estimate your TV advertising costs:
- Size of viewership: How many people locally watch the show that you want your advertisements to appear on? The station should be able to provide you with data from Nielsen.
- Cost per thousand viewers (CPM): What is the average CPM for ad slots during the television program you’re interested in? The station probably won’t give you the CPM outright, but you can calculate it by dividing the cost for one ad spot by the viewership (which they will give you the numbers for).
For example, let’s assume that you want to buy 10 spots over a month on an 8 a.m. news show on your local CBS affiliate. If daytime news ads are priced at $11.15 CPM and the show is watched by 20,000 people on average, you could calculate a fair price with the following formula:
Fair price for TV advertising = (number of spots) x (number of viewers / 1000) x (average CPM for the TV program)
In this example, 10 x 20 x $11.15 = $2,230.
When determining whether or not you can afford TV advertising, keep in mind that you will have to advertise multiple times in order to have a successful advertising campaign. If you can only afford one ad spot, don’t bother. Getting any new customers after they have only seen your ad once is extremely unlikely; you would just be throwing money away.
5. Maximize Your TV Advertising Budget
A small business can sometimes offset some of the cost of TV advertising by employing cost-saving strategies and opportunities. To ensure you’re saving the most money, consider the timing of the ad, TV advertising sales discounts, and packaged advertising deals. Further, choose between ad types to further offset costs.
Maximize Your Budget With Cost-saving Strategies
Many strategies can help you stretch a limited budget further without jeopardizing your ad quality or effectiveness. These include strategically placing ads in more affordable time slots, keeping an eye out for advertising-spot sales and discounts, and bidding and negotiating to lower price points.
Maximize your TV advertising budget by considering these cost-saving strategies and events:
- Consider seasonality or timing: You can pick your advertising slot based on the season or quarter. Rates usually start increasing in the fall to coincide with the premieres of new shows, so it’s best to air your TV campaign before June to save money.
- Take advantage of fire sales: Although rare, fire sales allow you to purchase advertising packages well in advance of an ad’s air time for a low price. These packages often include spots that may otherwise be too expensive for small businesses.
- Keep an eye out for remnant advertising opportunities: This is a slot that networks have been unable to fill and are usually heavily discounted. These opportunities are time-sensitive, so you will need to be proactive and have a budget ready.
- Bid at auctions: During auctions, the ad space goes to the highest bidder. You won’t be able to control the time slots and you will need to pay upfront.
- Negotiate packages and media mixes: A package where you buy several weeks’ worth of ad space will help stations fill their slots, and they may be willing to give you discounts if you sign up for one. Similarly, you may be able to negotiate a media mix where TV stations promote your company on other media channels—like their website—for free.
Choose Between TV Ad Types
The frequency of your ads and when you air them will also depend on what type of ad you select. There are different ad types and ad lengths for TV ads. Most ads will run for 10, 15, 30, or 60 seconds, and either be performance-based ads (calling for viewers to take action in the moment, like call a number or visit a website) or product placement ads. Consider your advertising goals, messaging, and products or services as you review these types and lengths.
The Traditional 15-, 30-, or 60-second Ad
This is what typically comes to mind when you are thinking of TV commercials. These play in clusters during the commercial break within a show. The pros of this type of commercial is you can easily target certain viewers by airing commercials during relevant programs. The con is that it is surrounded by other ads, so people may leave the room or fast-forward through it.
The 10-second Promotional Advertising Spot
This views like a traditional commercial (full-moving video and audio) but is positioned as part of a TV show and within program time. John Harper from Bruce Media Corporation says these spots are cheaper than a traditional 30-second commercial and can be more effective since they run on their own and are not surrounded by other ads. The downside is that these ads only air during syndicated programming, not during live broadcasts. View an example here.
Performance-based Media Placement
With this ad, you only have to pay when someone takes an action after seeing your commercial. Harper from Bruce Media Corporation advises advertisers who are seeking lead generation that drives either calls or online form completion to look into this option.
Below is an example performance-based TV ad for a residential solar installation offer. Participating stations, satellite carriers, and broadcast networks were paid $25 for each call they generated from the ad.
Product Placement Advertising
Product placement advertising is when a business pays to have their product featured in a TV program. For a small business, an inexpensive placement option is within a game show like “The Price is Right.” The advantage is that people won’t be fast-forwarding through your product placement, since it is during the TV program. In addition, it is also very focused on your product as opposed to being a subtle mention or logo placement.
Below is an example of product placement TV ad. As viewers watch a TV program, they’re offered an overview of why Subway food is healthy while also being tasty.
Work with your local station or media agency to decide which option will get your message across most effectively. Keep in mind that only the first ad type on this list will play during prime-time shows. The rest of the ads are usually played during syndicated shows or on stations during the day.
6. Determine When You Should Advertise
To determine when you should advertise your ads, first look at your budget, your audience, your ad type options, and the number of ads you have. You can then align the perfect ad mix with run times for maximum return on investment (ROI). When determining when to run your ads, remember that you should have more than one ad to run for greatest effectiveness.
Choose a Time Slot to Air Your Ad
Different TV ad time slots come with different pricing, depending on the time they’re aired. Prime-time is generally the most expensive but offers larger viewerships. Off-peak ad runs, while limiting reach, are more affordable. Consider spreading out your commercials over both these periods to enjoy a large viewership while saving money. If you need to target a very specific audience, try choosing time slots by program.
Expand Viewership With Prime-time Television
Prime-time is between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. It is the most expensive time to advertise because it’s when broadcast and cable shows enjoy the largest viewership. While you may be tempted to advertise during the day or late at night to save money, if you advertise when your audience isn’t watching, you may lose money. So, if it’s the right fit and you have the budget for it, consider prime-time advertising.
Save Money With Wider Rotations
Instead of narrowing in on a specific show or time and paying premium prices to do so, you can save money by buying wider rotations (5 p.m. to 10 p.m., for example) that fold in prime-time and off-peak viewing hours. This is best for businesses that don’t have a very narrow audience—like restaurants or grocery stores—and need to expose their brand to a large audience at a relatively low cost.
Target Interests by Show
If you want your commercial to air during a specific show, expect to pay a premium to secure one of the limited ad slots. This option is best if a very specific audience views the show and you know the impact will boost your ROI. For example, if you own a fishing supply store, the cost to advertise during “Deadliest Catch” (a show about fishermen) might be worth it because you know that the people watching will be interested in fishing gear.
Determine How Many Times to Run Your Ad
It’s important to run your ad multiple times in order for your message to make an impression. To make the most of your budget while determining how many times to run your ad, consider the difference between ad types and how many times it is necessary to run the ad to boost sales.
Keep these tips in mind when determining how often to run your ad:
- Focus on a consistent time slot: You want to first focus on one specific time, such as in the evening hours. This helps to ensure the same audience sees your ad multiple times.
- Run your ad multiple times in a short time frame: During your chosen time, you want to advertise three to four times over two to three days. This quick repetition is necessary to create familiarity with your products and brand, which will more likely to lead to a purchase.
- Mix your ad lengths: One way of making your TV ad dollars go farther is to use a mix of 15-second commercials and 30-second commercials. While these ads allow you to differ the ad content, your branding and messaging will be repeated for the viewership, increasing the likelihood that they will make a purchase or, at the very least, recognize your brand in the future.
- Repeat until saturated, then expand: If the advertising works, you can expand your TV advertising out to another week of the month. When you have the whole month saturated, you can jump to advertising in another program on the same station.
People like to purchase products with which they’re familiar. By building that familiarity through repetition and same-audience targeting, you’re more likely to create a purchase. Once you’ve built familiarity with one audience, you can move on to target new audiences.
7. Create Content for Your TV Ad
To create content for your ad, you must determine your likely production process (including producing it yourself, working with a local broadcast or cable company, or working with a media agency), gather your production resources and talent, determine your ad length, and include essential information like business contact information and a call to action or offer.
Determine Your Production Method
You can choose to produce your commercial yourself, work with your local broadcast or cable company, or work with a media company to create your ad. Each choice offers a different production process and fits different budgets. Consider the costs and advantages of each before choosing the one that suits your needs and budget.
Do It Yourself
We don’t recommend this option unless you have experience producing commercials. A low-quality commercial could send the wrong message to your audience, making your company seem unprofessional and damage its credibility. If you want to go to the DIY route, you will need to purchase or rent professional audio and video equipment, hire a production staff, and hire actors. If you have experience, you could use this option to save money.
Work With Your Local Broadcast or Cable Company
This is a good option for small business owners, since your local station should have a production team on staff to help you with your commercial. They will sometimes work the cost to produce the commercial into the cost of your ad spots, especially if you are planning to spend money over a long period of time.
Work With a Media Agency
If you choose to use an agency to help you with an ad buy, you can also use them to help produce your commercial. Ask for samples of ads that they have created before, so you know what quality you can expect.
Determine Ad Length
In TV advertising, you can go with 60-, 30-, and 15-second ad spots. Typically, a 60-second ad will cost twice as much as a 30-second ad, while 15-second ads cost 65% less than 30-second ads. In order to make your budget go further, we suggest doing a mix of 30- and 15-second commercials. The 30-second commercial will be long enough to get across your business’ message, while the 15-second ad will serve as a reminder of your company.
Include Essential Information
No matter what your offer or message is, your commercial should have key information, like how to contact your business, how to take advantage of the offer, and basic information about your company. As you put together ad content, be sure to include this information on-screen or as part of dialogue.
These are the key elements to include in your ad:
- Who you are: The name of your business should be very clear and repeated often—but not in a way that seems contrived or forced.
- An offer or incentive to visit: Incentives encourage viewers to come in-store. For example, you could say something like, “We have the best cannoli in all of (insert your city here)!” Or, simply let them know of a big sale that you’re having.
- How to find information about your business: Include your website address at the end of your commercial, or better yet, leave your website address up throughout the entire ad. A website address is memorable and you can use it to offer more information than can be communicated in a short ad.
- Tracking information: Don’t rely on networks to give you accurate data on viewer interest in your ad. Instead, include a vanity URL or unique phone number as part of your offer or call to action that you can use to track interest generated be a specific ad.
- Where you’re located: If your business needs foot traffic, tell viewers where you’re located. However, don’t simply give them your address; offer landmarks like “by the mall” to help them easily find you.
By including key information such as what your business is and where it’s located, then offering incentives to either learn more or come in-store, you create a commercial that is less likely to be ignored. People need explicit instructions regarding what actions they should take or they will act on another commercial that makes it easier to do so.
Gather Your Production Resources
A concern for many small business owners is how to create a commercial that looks professional while still keeping costs low. There are a couple different elements that go into the cost of a commercial, including talent and production equipment. Consider these costs carefully, then collect the necessary materials and talent to create your ad.
- Talent: If you want to hire multiple professional actors, expect to pay a pretty penny. To save costs, consider using yourself or your employees in your commercial. This will give your commercial a more personal feel. If you feel uncomfortable on screen, consider hiring an amateur actor on Fiverr.
- Production: A commercial with a lot of special effects and high-quality video will probably be out of your price range. Instead, try a simple shot with a digital camera. Keep it clean and get straight to the point. You only have 30 seconds (or less), so make them count.
The important thing to remember is that your commercial does not have to be fancy to have an impact. It does need to get the message out about your business and the products or services you offer.
Below is a clever 30-second commercial from a local car dealership. The commercial features the owners of the business, who incorporate a well-known “MacGyver” reference (a popular TV show that ran during the 1980s and 1990s) into their ad to get their point across.
8. Buy Television Ad Spots
There are two main options when it comes to purchasing TV ads. You could purchase them directly from your local broadcast station or cable provider, or you could use an advertising agency to purchase spots on your behalf. Consider both options before making a purchase.
Purchase From a Local Provider
Once you’ve decided on where you want to advertise, you can contact your local TV station or local cable provider directly. They will assign you an account executive who will help you through the process of the media buy.
The major differences in how media is sold between local broadcast and local cable are:
- Sales by location: Broadcast television is sold by DMA (designated market area), while cable can be purchased by zone (cluster of towns). DMAs are much larger than zones, so cable allows you to target a smaller geographic area.
- Sales by ad air time: Cable stations generally focus on selling “rotator” spots (in which you don’t know exactly when your commercial will air). For example, a prime-time spot may air anytime between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Broadcast tends to focus on selling commercials that appear during specific shows at specific times.
Deciding which option to choose for your business depends on your specific advertising goals. If you have a small budget and are looking to promote to a specific location, we suggest going with broadcast advertising. Although fewer people will see your ad, the ones who do will be in the same geographical location (zone) as your business. You will also be paying less for the ad spot, so you will have more money to advertise multiple times.
Work With an Advertising Agency
There are many experienced ad agencies that work with clients to conceptualize and produce ads, then strategize placement and buy ad space. Choose an agency in your state with expertise in local businesses or your industry. A local agency can produce an ad featuring your business and its products without you having to cover exorbitant travel costs. Research the availability of local agencies online, then contact each to see if they’re a good fit.
One benefit of working with an advertising agency is gaining access to their existing network of TV contacts. This often means better deals for you. In fact, John Harper from Bruce Media says, “Traditionally, we will negotiate the best deal for our clients and then get paid a commission by the media vendor (TV stations and networks, for example) for bringing them the business. We can also work on a retainer basis wherein a client would pay us a flat fee for coordinating their media buys.”
9. Measure the Impact
Once your television advertising campaign has been launched, measure its success by tracking engagement via the unique URL or phone number you created for the ad, asking customers how they heard about you, or measuring sales during your campaign. If you skip this step, then you won’t know if the money spent was worth it.
Check Vanity URL Clicks
If you choose to have a vanity URL appear during your commercial, track visits to the URL from the ad air time through the next four to six hours. To ensure you’re notified if people used your URL, you will need to add campaign-specifying tracking information to it and redirect it to your website. Learn how to set this up here. You can purchase a unique URL at GoDaddy.
Track Calls to a Vanity Number
While we recommend advertisers emphasize their website on TV ads, a phone number may be more appropriate for certain businesses—like takeout restaurants, for example. You may have noticed that most numbers in TV ads are 800 numbers; this is because 800 numbers are toll-free for the caller. To set up one of these numbers and learn how to track it, read our article on setting up call tracking.
Ask Customers How They Heard About You or Your Offer
Asking customers how they heard about your offer when they purchase a product is an effective way to gather information about which TV ad campaigns produce purchases and which don’t. You can ask through an online survey included in a sales email or through automated phone prompts for first-time callers. By pinpointing where new business comes from, you’ll have a better idea of what marketing efforts are working the best.
Measure Sales During Your Campaign
If your sales rise during a campaign, you may be able to attribute that to your TV ad. For accuracy, however, only run one ad at a time so you will know which marketing campaign caused the increase. Similarly, try to run ads during slow sales times for best tracking; if it is run during a time when sales normally rise, you won’t know if you can attribute the spike to your TV advertising. If you must run them at this time, consider using a designated tracking URL.
Pro Tip: Use a combination of the above tactics to capture the greatest amount of information about how your TV ad campaign performed.
Pros & Cons of TV Advertising
TV advertising has many pros and cons. Pros include the likelihood a TV ad will increase sales and viewer engagement, the ability to pair site and sound, and a large audience reach. Cons include limited targeting options, the tendency for people to fast-forward through commercials, the expensive involved, and the inability to change ad content once it airs.
Pros of TV Advertising
- Television is the most effective advertising medium: A study by released by Gfk/TVB found that consumers find television to be the most effective advertising medium in influencing their purchase decisions.
- TV pairs sight and sound: TV uses two mediums (audio and visual) instead of just one, like radio or newspaper. This is a big advantage if you have a visually appealing product that you think will sell best by people seeing it. By combining this with an audio element, like an influencer’s endorsement, you further add to the commercial’s persuasiveness.
- TV ads reach a large audience: Advertisers want to have commercials on TV because of the large number of people who will see the ad. Nielsen estimates that 119.9 million homes in the U.S. have at least one TV set in 2018-2019 compared to 31 million who receive a newspaper at home.
Cons of TV Advertising
- It’s hard to make changes: Not only are TV ads are costly and time-consuming to produce, it is unlikely you will be able to make last-minute edits should an advertised event be canceled or a promotion change. This differs from print ads, where you can quickly make changes to the copy and switch out your ads before publication.
- It’s hard to target: You can target broadly by showcasing products that might appeal to audiences of specific shows or networks—like an ad for running shoes aired to sports fans watching ESPN, for example. However, you can’t get as specific as you can online. For more information, view our guide to advertising on Google to learn about online targeting options.
- People can fast-forward through your commercial: These days, many people have the ability to record and fast-forward through their programs. That means that a percentage of TV viewers are blowing right past your ad.
- It can be expensive: The cost of both purchasing an advertising spot and producing a commercial is one of the biggest disadvantages of TV advertising for small business owners. Although you can potentially get the cost back plus profit, this is risky and not guaranteed for all advertisers.
3 Top TV Ad Examples
While some TV ads are ignored, others grab attention and provide enough information to attract buyers. Ads that grab people’s attention often include humor, compelling storylines, surprise elements, or well-known figures who grab and keep people’s attention. Then, once they have people’s attention, they make it very clear what viewers are expected to do next.
Here are three top TV ad examples that create interest and incite action:
Absolute Mortgage’s commercial works because it is to the point, uses an influencer to gain relevance and capture attention, leverages the element of surprise to keep viewers’ attention, and clearly displays the company’s website during the duration of the commercial. Though short, it offers a persuasive narrative by addressing people’s pain points, then illustrating how Absolute Mortgage solves them.
As a very recognizable national brand, Domino’s doesn’t need to include their website through the entire commercial (even though they should). Still, they create brand awareness and recognition with multiple logo displays and product close-ups. They grab and keep viewers’ attention with dry humor and to-the-point ad dialogue.
Though quite long, this Burger King commercial works well because it tells a story that the community cares about and takes a stand against injustice (bullying). It captures attention by speaking about customer concerns and telling real stories about people like them. In the end, viewers aren’t learning about a product, they are coming to trust a brand that stands up for people like them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is TV advertising still effective?
Adobe’s recent study of 1,000 TV buyers found that 2018 and 2019 marketers still regard TV advertising as more effective than many other leading marketing avenues, including radio, search, and social media advertising. They believe it is more effective in building consumers’ emotional connections with brands. Consumers seem to agree; a Gfk/TVB study found that consumers regard TV marketing as the top influencer of their purchase decisions.
How much does it cost to advertise on TV?
The cost for television advertising can vary significantly depending on placement and the time your ad airs. For example, while a 30-second Super Bowl ad in 2019 cost $5.25 million, a 30-second commercial aired during a popular national TV show averaged around $115,000 the same year. If you’re a small business advertising locally on TV, you could pay as little as $5 per 1,000 viewers your 30-second commercial is exposed to.
What are the advantages of TV advertising?
TV advertising reaches a very large audience in a short period of time compared to other traditional advertising mediums like newspaper and radio. You can also advertise by appealing to more viewer senses via visual and audio elements. This makes your ad more memorable and persuasive. As a result, studies show consumers regard TV advertising as the most influential advertising type in their purchase decisions.
Bottom Line: TV Advertising
TV advertising involves running a 15- to 60-second branded video that airs during TV show breaks during a scheduled program. It often showcases products and services and tells viewers how to learn more or take advantage of an offer. To create a TV ad, businesses must determine the ad type and placement that align with their audiences, message, and budget, then create their ads, buy ad spots, and monitor performance.
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