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Ad Types – Pros & Cons: Cable Television

Now it’s time to discuss cable television advertising in my series of posts entitled Ad Types – Pros & Cons. The reason I decided to break out cable television advertising from broadcast television advertising is because there are specific benefits and pitfalls of cable television advertising that are different from broadcast television.

But before I get into those let me just say as an avid television watcher that cable television is a wonderful thing. With hundreds of channels at your finger tips if you can’t find something that piques your interest, well maybe you’re just not interested in enough things. Or maybe you have a life that involves actual interaction with other human beings; you know, kids… family… friends. Oops, sorry, I digressed. But seriously, how cool is it that you can find out how to teach your Shih Tzu to play chopsticks while dressed up like Zsa Zsa Gabor all at 2:30 in the morning!

Anyway, back to the topic. Here’s what I see as some of the big Pro’s and Con’s of cable television advertising:

PRO’S

  • Audience Segmentation – One of the fundamental goals of marketing is to zero your message in on your target market with as little waste as possible. If you are a plumber or remodeler there are dozens of shows on cable that would be a perfect fit for your message. Why is it a perfect fit? Because the people watching a show about remodeling are probably considering remodeling their own house and are looking for some new ideas. What a great time to tell them how good of a remodeler you are!
  • Relative Cost – In some of my other posts I have stressed the importance of analyzing your marketing spend not just by how many viewers/listeners/readers will be exposed to your message; but how many people within YOUR TARGET MARKET will you reach. So you do the math: let’s say you are a dog groomer and you spend $500 to advertise once on a local newscast that 50,000 people will see (250 of them actually being in your target market – or $2 per message to your target audience). Or you could take that same $500 and run an ad ten times on Animal Planet’s The Dog Whisperer that 1000 people will see (250 of them are in  your target market). Youve just reduced your cost down to $.20 per message to your target audience, and you’ve added a huge component to advertising success…frequency.
  • Effectiveness – As with broadcast television advertising, having the ability to get your message across to your target audience using multiple senses (audio & visual) is more effective than using just one sense such as visual only (newspaper) or audio only (radio).
  • Programming – Years ago if you wanted your message to be played in compelling programming that was more than an infomercial, sports or political commentary you had to go to broadcast television. Now, however, cable networks are winning awards for their programming (in many cases beating out broadcast television programming).  And they’ve put these hot new shows on when broadcast television’s new shows are on hiatus. So while the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy is four weeks away TBS is premiering Saving Grace and stealing audience share.

CON’S

  • Changing Viewing Habits – Similar to broadcast television advertising, people have changed the way they view their favorite shows. Now through the use of a digital video recording device like DVR or Tivo people are catching on to the fact that they can record their favorite hour long show and simply wait 15 minutes after it started to see the whole show without commercials and still have it end at the same time. Short of football’s “Big Game” (sorry, can’t say Super B***) you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would prefer to watch commercials if given the choice.
  • Production Cost – Some of this is repetitive from my broadcast television post simply because it’s the same medium. But that does not take away from the fact that producing a compelling television spot is more expensive than a newspaper ad, radio spot or banner ad combined.  And, it’s more difficult to change if you want to move away from one messaging focus to another.
  • Audience Fragmentation – Having so many choices in programming to choose from is great for targeting (see Audience Segmentation above) but it’s also a double edged sword. More choices mean more options. And because we have the attention spans of a five-year old at Disney World, it’s extraordinarily easy to find something else to watch once a show goes to a commercial break.

OK, between this post and the broadcast television post I think I’ve beaten the “television” horse to death.  I’ll move on in my next post!

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