Posts Tagged ‘cable advertising’

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:


  • 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.


  • 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!


Ad Types – Pros & Cons: Broadcast Television

January 22, 2010 1 comment

In my ongoing series Ad Types – Pros & Cons I provide simple, straight forward opinions about the advertising options businesses have at their disposal.  I began the series discussing the good, bad and the ugly aspects of advertising in traditional newspapers.  Now I’d like to dive into broadcast television!

Notice that I’m being very specific about saying broadcast television as opposed to just television.  That’s because there are, in my opinion, a whole different set of pros and cons for cable television advertising than there are for broadcast television.  I’ll get in to cable television advertising next time.

For now let’s concentrate on broadcast television.  If you’re not quite sure what I mean by broadcast television, it essentially means any television station that you can pull in to your television set without the need for paid services like cable, dish or satellite. Typically you don’t need to pay to receive stations like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox (among a few others).

On August 25, 1900 a gentleman by the name of Constantin Perskyi first coined the phrase “television” in a paper read at the International World Fair.  On August 26th someone figured out that businesses would pay to advertise on television! I’m kidding, or course.

Let’s face it, much to the chagrin of television station advertising account managers across the world, BROADCAST TELEVISION ADVERTISING IS NOT RIGHT FOR EVERY BUSINESS. Read on to help figure out if it’s right for your business:


  • Huge audience potential – If you are looking for a very broad base audience with a wide array of interests, broadcast television offers you the potential for big numbers when it comes to eyeballs seeing your message. So if your product or service is very general in nature or your target market is incredibly broad (like men and women 25-54) then you may want to consider broadcast television advertising. On a side note, if you’ve truly only broken down your ideal customer to men and women 25-54 you are going to be in a world of hurt!
  • News is king – Local news broadcasts are only shown on broadcast television channels. And there are large segments of the general population who are incredibly loyal to watching the local news. So an ad in the local news brings with it a certain credibility factor that is valuable. However, watch your target market.  If your target market is 22 year old women who like to to workout, they’re typically not watching the local news with any regularity.
  • Effectiveness – Using a video or other moving image in conjunction with auditory stimulus (spoken words or music) to promote your product or service is a highly effective way to get an audience to understand your message. Compared to newspaper advertising (visual only) and radio advertising (audio only), television advertising can be more effective than many other forms of advertising.


  • Advertising Cost – The cost of a single :30 second ad during primetime or during the local evening news broadcast can be significant. Now your Account Manager will divide that pricetag by the total number of estimated viewers to show you a really low cost per viewer but you must take that number with a grain of salt. How many of the 1000’s of viewers they tell you about are in your target market? That’s your true cost. If the station tells you they have 100,000 people watching every night and they want you to pay $500 per spot they’ll tell you “That’s just $.005 per viewer…yeah!” Hold it…how many of those 100,000 viewers are in your target market? 1,000 maybe? Now your effective cost per targeted viewer has jumped to $.50 each (a far cry from $.005). And I haven’t even touched on the concept of frequency yet!
  • Production Cost – Paying to air your commercial is one thing, but somebody’s got to produce the darn thing before it can be aired. Yes, the station will tell you they can produce a commercial for you for a few hundred dollars, but be careful. Not everyone has the creativity and equipment necessary to generate a compelling ad that zeroes in on your target message. You want people to remember your ad FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.  There’s a fine line between a compelling ad and a cocktail party joke!
  • Changing Viewing Habits – 50 years ago families got together in the living room around the TV and turned on the Ed Sullivan Show or some other show from one of five channels they got on their TV.  Now there are 100’s of channels to choose from, watching TV on the internet (with very limited commercial interuptions) and digital video recorders (DVR/Tivo). Television viewers can now watch TV on their schedule, not the networks. And, if given the choice, they will skip commercials.
  • Lack of Targetability – Broadcast television advertising is shotgun advertising, not sniper advertising. When you shoot a shotgun hundreds of little pellets get launched in the general direction of the target with the hopes that a few will hit and disable the target. Lots of wasted pellets without a guarantee of disabling the target. Snipers are about one bullet…one kill. No waste.

In summary broadcast television advertising can be a very effective channel for companies with the right product/service and a sizeable marketing budget. If you have a highly targeted product or service and you’re looking at a proposal asking you to spend 80% of your total marketing budget on broadcast television advertising beware!

Next time…radio advertising!!