Posts Tagged ‘television production’

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!!