Why Does TV Advertising Cost So Much?

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What is the first thing you do when you get home from work? If you’re honest, you probably switch on the TV (although if you have kids home from school the TV is likely on already). Since black and white images first beamed into our living rooms we’ve been endlessly entertained by the rapidly evolving TV industry. And since the very first broadcast, companies have been vying for attention with ever more creative TV ads. TVs are the most pervasive device in the home, which makes television advertising the most sought after medium, despite the notoriously high advertising costs.

But why is it so expensive?

For starters, you need to hire an advertising agency. Unless your business is TV you probably don’t know what makes television ads tick; you’re also unlikely to have all the relevant facts and figures at your finger tips. Advertising agencies make it their business to know the minutiae that make ads work; such as viewership for particular channels at particular times. Agencies don’t come cheap, but if you want to get your advertising campaign right the cost is worth it.

If you don’t fancy relinquishing total control to an agency you will still have to hire some professionals. For example, you’ll need a script writer, actors, cameramen, light technicians and a director. Then there are other pesky details, such as hiring the venue and caterers and sorting out clothing and accessories. It’s also a good idea to get some input from someone who understands what is and isn’t allowed in an ad; all the legal ramifications. You can see the costs escalating (and why most people choose an advertising agency or media buyer, as all this is included in the fee).

Even if you’re going to be the star of your ad and are confident enough to write your own script most of the costs mentioned above still apply.

Then there is the small matter of buying airtime. According to an article on bizmove.com, the cost of your TV advertising campaign is dependent on two things: the viewership of the programme and the timeslot. Prime time ads, which can be anywhere between 18:00 and 23:00 (a lot depends on the station), will cost a great deal more than ads during the middle of the day. But mid-day slots might suit you, especially if you’re targeting stay-at-home moms or the retired age bracket. Advertising during high profile events, such as sports world cups, will also cost you more than during regular viewing.

Finally, your budget needs to stretch to multiple viewings. No TV ad, no matter how well produced, is effective if it’s only aired once. Advertising experts say that people need to see an ad between five and seven times for it to get their proper attention. But because people don’t always concentrate while ads are on, you’ll need to run it between three and four times a day for several days (read weeks) for it to work.

TV advertising certainly has its advantages, but unless you can afford an extended campaign the costs will outweigh the returns.

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