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Is TV Advertising Worth It?

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Danny Randell | August 13, 2021

“Are TV ads worth it? Are they really providing the companies that use them with a good return on investment?”
5 min read

    TV Advertising: Is It Worth It?

    Advertising is one of the most important things your business can do, but everyone-from giants like Coca Cola to your friend operating a business out of their garage-is trying to crack the code on what sort of advertising actually works.

    Large companies spend millions of dollars every year on Superbowl commercials to try to capture the attention of consumers, so it seems like there must be something to all this advertising, right?

    So, is it all just flashy packaging and a way for big companies to flaunt their marketing department's latest brainwave? Or do these ads return piles of cash for the organizations running them?

    You might have wondered if this sort of advertising is reserved only for gigantic organizations or if it's even attainable for businesses of a smaller size. Or perhaps you've run TV ads in the past but weren't sure how to measure their effectiveness"¦well, in this article we break down this popular form of advertising and try to answer the one question nagging at every business owner when it comes to TV: is it worth it?

    TV Advertising Cost

    Well, as you probably already imagined, TV advertising is not cheap. And according to Fit Small Business, "the average TV ad costs $115,000 for a 30-second commercial on a national network". That's a lot of dough! But before you go running for cover, you should know that there are ways around paying huge amounts of money for TV ads.

    For example, there may be local TV networks in your area that charge less money for commercial space, and while you might not get the same big splash you would from a national channel, if you're a local business, local channels might not only be the most cost-effective, but the most sensible spot to advertise.

    Factors Affecting TV Cost

    In the case of TV advertising, choosing a location means deciding which segment (or what time) you want your commercial to air, and the size of your ad is the length of your commercial.

    Deciding on a segment can be tough, because it really comes down to cost vs. number of viewers. You can advertise on Coronation Street for a lot less than you're going to pay for a Super Bowl commercial, and if that's your demographic, then absolutely go for it! But if it's not, and you're just looking to get your name in lights in front of millions of people, a commercial segment at a big sports event might be the way to go"¦it just comes with a much bigger price tag.

    Commercial length just comes down to cost vs. time. Generally, if you can get your message across in 15 seconds or less, you're in a good spot, but TV commercials are all about hooking your audience's attention and getting them invested in whatever it is you're trying to say. If you need a minute to explain what you do and why they should buy, it better be a darn good minute of entertaining content that doesn't lose the onlooker. 60 seconds during a major TV segment is going to cost you the earth. Consider hiring some trapeze artists and adding lots of explosions.

    Design costs are typically going to be higher than those associated with creating a poster for a billboard, but the same rules apply: can you do it in-house or do you need to pay someone to do it for you? This can be one of the biggest barriers for a lot of businesses to getting an ad on television; simply not having the resources to create something professional that's going to pull eyes and lead to an increase in sales.

    Note: not having a big budget doesn't mean you can't still make something great on a tight wallet, but if you can't achieve something you're proud of and that you feel will truly accomplish something for your business-save your money and put it into something that's going to get you results.

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    TV Advertising Alternatives

    If you can't afford commercial time, there is another way to land your business on TV-making the news. (In a good way, of course. We're not talking about a Dunder Mifflin style watermark scandal.) If your company can build relationships with local press and do something newsworthy, or even position yourself to be involved in something your local news is doing a story on, it can be a great way to get your business's name out there for no cost. Especially if your business is a local authority on a particular subject and the local press knows you exist, there's a good chance they'll come to you for expertise, giving you a chance to land your business in the limelight.

    Measuring Return on Investment

    Of course, you're never going to know how many pairs of eyes landed on your billboard or your TV commercial. You can't measure these advertisements by clicks and conversions, but you still need to account for costs and try and figure out how (or even if) these advertisements are working for your business.

    One of the best ways to measure how many people are engaging with your TV advertisement is by incorporating an online (measurable) element. For example, try creating an associated landing page on your website that only people who have viewed your ad would search and have access to. This way, you can track electronically how much interest your ad is getting.

    Alternatively, use another call to action, such as asking people who've seen your ad to enter a contest of some kind (entering via a social media follow can give you another way to track how many people have seen and engaged with your ad).

    Both of these options can be tricky to implement because they require people having to do something. You still won't know how many people saw or were intrigued by your ad and just didn't have a chance to enter your contest or visit your web page.

    Final Thoughts

    When you start aiming high with your advertising (like with TV adverts), remember that your main priority needs to be getting your name out and simply raising brand awareness. When you've come to terms with this, you can live with a less tangible or immediate return on investment and just be glad of the exposure.

    The good news is that advertising on television is possible, even for businesses with smaller budgets, and it can be trackable if you can come up with creative ways to do so. No matter what sort of ad you decide to put out, just make sure you've done the groundwork and are confident it's going to turn heads. At the end of the day, the format of an ad doesn't matter half as much as the content. You got this-now go run an ad!

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