TV advertising costs can be surprising. Few things have such a cost variance as television ads. For most people, what’s not surprising is how expensive they can be. The main surprise is how inexpensive TV advertising can be. (Having said that, the least expensive options may not be the best opportunities, either).
Overall, the cost of producing a commercial can run from as little as $1,000 and upwards to hundreds of thousands of dollars if you are using only stock photography and a simple voice over and upwards to hundreds of thousands of dollars if you need to have multiple cameras, hire union actors and filmmakers and are looking for a final look that oozes production value.
Following are some fundamentals about TV advertising costs.
The Two Main Costs of TV Commercials
1) A TV commercial needs to be produced.
2) The TV ad needs to be broadcast.
If you have a fixed budget, you can spend less on the production and more on getting the message out on the airwaves. Conversely, you could spend a bigger chunk of the budget on the production of the commercial and spend less on the broadcasting. For most advertisers, the budget is dependent upon an evaluation of short and long-term business objectives.
Broadcasting costs can be as cheap as $25 for 30 seconds in a small market, or thousands of dollars in large markets.
National or Local TV?
National TV advertising is more expensive. Although some of the biggest brands may spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot on the Superbowl, a more realistic number would be in the six figure range for 30 seconds on national TV.
Conversely, local TV can be surprisingly economical. If you are a local or regional company and you aren’t selling a product or service to a national market, then the decision is simple: buy local TV advertising.
A local commercial on a local station at 2:00 am can run as cheap at $25 per 30 seconds. However, 2:00 in the morning may not be the best time to advertise your product or service, although it can be inexpensive.
TV Cost Variables
There are a number of factors that determine the cost of broadcasting a TV ad. Such variables include the region it will be aired (some areas are more expensive than others); time of day; day of week; quantity of viewers; length of the commercial (15 sec, 30 sec, 60 sec or a 30 min infomercial); and how frequently the ads will run.
More fundamentally, the cost of broadcasting a 30-second spot varies according to the number of viewers expected to be watching it.
To throw out some ballpark numbers on the low side, which would pertain to many small- to mid-sized businesses, a 30-second time slot in a medium-sized market can be purchased for as little as $5 per 1,000 viewers.
Beyond the Money
Of course the costs of producing and airing a TV commercial are important to any business. However, the TV ad itself would be best if it contains The Three Essential Ingredients for Successful TV Advertising.
And bear in mind that a quantity of airings is vital to measuring effectiveness. If you run a commercial just once, it’s very unlikely you’ll see any increase in sales. Repetitive broadcasting generates the viewership familiarity that will make your message memorable.
Avid hiker, bicyclist, motorcyclist, long-time seasoned advertising pro and taste-tester of too much organic dark chocolate. Founder of Skyworks Marketing, Nonprofit Fire and Founder/Producer of local cable TV series Our Ventura TV. One career highlight was working on a small team that built a business from nothing to over $100 Million in 3 years.