Best Practices for TV Advertising for Your Business

Television advertising is one of the primary methods you can use to spread a message to a wide audience. You can use TV advertising to spread awareness of your brand, advertise a promotion or announce new information about your products and services. TV advertisements do require an investment of resources, but they can give you an impressive return on that investment if you develop the right television outreach strategy. 


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What is TV advertising?

TV advertising is promotional content that airs on cable, broadcast and TV streaming platforms. TV advertising can take the form of a commercial in between programs, product placement on a show, a dedicated infomercial program or sponsorship messages. Each of these forms of TV advertising leverages television viewership to promote a business. Companies hope to use TV to reach their target audience and make them more familiar with their brand and products.


Benefits of advertising a business on TV

As one of many marketing channels you can use to spread awareness of your business, TV offers some unique benefits for reaching potential customers:


Engaging content 

TV provides viewers with a multi-sensory experience, making advertisements highly engaging. They use audio and video to stimulate the viewer’s interest in their content. The multimedia approach of TV advertising has the potential to encourage viewers to develop strong positive associations with your brand. TV gives you many avenues to tell your company’s story to customers and entice them to try your products and services.


Extensive reach

Television is an important part of modern culture and can reach high volumes of interested customers. Even small local stations can get your company’s message out to a large portion of your local community, inspiring word-of-mouth advertising and familiarizing the public with what your business has to offer.


Cohesive branding

A memorable TV ad can help customers understand and recognize your brand, especially if you run a single commercial multiple times or release a TV advertising campaign where multiple commercials share the same visual elements and themes. TV branding can make your logos and signage more recognizable to passers-by, making your business feel more familiar and enticing.


Ability to specialize

You can target a particular audience by carefully selecting the network and platform that you want to show your advertisements. Selecting a network that your target audience already watches can give you an immediate connection to a specialized group of motivated buyers.



Depending on your budget and advertising needs, you can purchase different lengths of air time on various schedules, giving you the flexibility to promote your business on a budget. Even if you can’t afford a minute-long ad spot on a premium network, you may still get results by filming a shorter commercial and running it on a more affordable platform.


How does TV advertising work?

To set up a TV advertisement, the advertising company purchases an ad on a network or streaming service for a certain time frame, such as 15 or 30 seconds. They negotiate how many times the platform will run the ad and when the ad will appear. The TV station or network then shows the ad according to the contract, giving the business exposure to TV program viewers.


Factors that influence the cost of TV advertising

Cost is one of the main limiting factors for businesses that want to advertise on TV. Some advertisers spend millions of dollars on premium ad slots, such as Super Bowl ads, while others pay a small amount based on a network’s viewership. There are several factors that influence the cost of a TV ad, including:

  • Location: Some cities have a higher cost-per-viewer than others. High-population cities like Los Angeles and New York City tend to charge much more for ad slots than rural towns due to the increase in exposure.
  • Duration: Longer ads naturally cost more money than shorter ads.
  • Network: More popular networks and channels can charge more for their ad slots. Local networks are more affordable than national broadcast stations and cable channels.
  • Audience behavior: If viewers have the option to skip past your ad through on-demand fast forward features or streaming website options, you may be able to save on ad costs.
  • Time: Time of day and time of year both have an impact on how much advertisements cost. Showing a commercial during a prime time hour of the holiday season will be more expensive than showing a commercial on the same station in the midday during the spring.
  • Demographics: An audience’s age and gender can impact their desirability for advertisers. Shows aimed at demographics that spend less may have cheaper ad spots.

Related: What Is Native Advertising?


Best practices for advertising on TV

When preparing to launch a TV advertising campaign, consider these best practices:


Start small

TV advertisements can be extremely costly, so it is important to start small and test the success of your first commercial before investing more money. Try running short commercials and measuring their impact then identifying the most successful elements of your initial ad and developing them into a larger campaign.


Be aware of the law

The FTC has rules about what kinds of products you can advertise on television and what claims you can make about you and your competitors. Make sure you understand the truth in advertising laws before you start planning your script and production.


Be creative

Television viewers see many different advertisements in a single day. You need to be creative and show viewers why your company is unique to capture their attention and make your advertisement memorable. Watch commercials from your competitors and think about what you could do differently to tell a story to your viewers.


Prioritize quality

When producing your commercial, make your production quality a priority. Even the most fun and creative commercial can fail if your sound and video quality don’t meet a viewer’s expectations. If you have a limited budget, think about making a shorter commercial with better quality instead of opting for cheaper equipment to get a longer slot.


Think long term

Don’t expect instant results from running a TV ad. It may take time for viewers to move from seeing the ad to making a purchase, especially if your ad promoted general brand awareness and not a specific promotion or event. 

Related: Running Your First Advertising Campaign for Your Business


How to create effective content for a TV ad

Follow these steps to create effective content for your next TV advertisement:


1. Set a budget

Before you even begin planning your concept, decide on your commercial budget and create an allocation plan. Decide how much you are willing to spend on buying the TV slot and on producing the commercial itself. Compare rates from different stations to determine your strategy for running ads, then start developing a more specific budget for production.


2. Decide on a theme

One of the main purposes of a TV commercial is to make your brand more recognizable. You can start by choosing a storyline, character or overarching theme for your commercial. The theme will determine the design and dialogue of your commercial and start building a connection with your customers.


3. Test your messaging

Hold focus groups to test various commercial concepts and measure their initial success before fully investing in production. See how different themes and ideas impact how customers view your brand.


4. Create a compelling script

Include strong dialogue that presents the main idea of your commercial in a clear, direct way. Fun banter and wordplay can make your script more engaging, as long as you still have a clear call to action telling customers how they can learn more.


5. Select your visuals

Decide whether you want to hire actors to represent a scene, hire animators to create cartoon visuals or find another way to represent your message visually. Consider aspects like color scheme, set design, wardrobe and effects to complete your story with visual emphasis.


6. Work with a production company

Hire a professional production company to record and edit your commercial. Unless you already have dedicated multimedia experts on your staff, outsourcing the commercial to a video production company can help you ensure the quality and integrity of your advertisement.


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Frequently asked questions about TV advertising

How much does it cost for an advertisement on TV?

TV advertising can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars for programs with low viewership and these figures increase based on exposure.

How effective is TV advertising?

The effectiveness of TV advertising depends on the quality of the ads that you run and your strategy for airing them to an audience.

How much does a TV advertisement cost for 30 seconds?

The average cost of a 30-second tv ad in 2019 was $104,735.

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