People often call our South Florida ad agency and ask questions such as “What does it cost to advertise on TV” or “I’m checking around I want to know YOUR rates for TV advertising.” Now it seems like a simple enough question and the answer to the cost of TV advertising is anything but simple. Sometimes I’m sure people must wonder if we are being evasive because they expect us to fax or email them a rate card and there simply isn’t one.
Here is what makes the cost of TV advertising so difficult to explain. You might be in Boca Raton Florida and you want to advertise on a specific show at a specific time of day. All you want to know is what will that cost. Did you know that in Miami that same show at the exact same time will cost a different amount? In fact, every show that comes on will sell their advertising at a different price. For example if you only want to advertise on CBS or FOX and you just want to know the rates on FOX how difficult is that? It’s pretty difficult and here’s why. Each show on FOX or CBS or any other network has a rating which represents the number of viewers. The short story is that if you have more viewers then people will pay more to advertise on your show. Now the complexity comes in because every 30 minutes or every 60 minutes maybe a different show comes on and that show has a different rating so it will cost different. This means that I might have 20 or 30 or 40 different prices for one network such as FOX or CBS. OH, and that is just for one day! On a different day these networks have different shows and all of those shows have a different rating and different prices. Then of course you add to that the fact that every city has a different population size so that again will change the cost. Wait, it gets more complicated! The time of year will make a difference in the cost to advertise. Near a holiday the retailers want to advertise on TV and they use up the available inventory which causes a supply and demand problem and the prices go up.
Here is something to think about; newspapers can print more pages when they have a lot of holiday retail advertisers while TV stations cannot increase the number of commercials they will run in a 30 minute show. Since the number of TV commercials that can run in 30 minutes is a fixed number the TV stations will raise and lower prices based upon supply and demand.
You just want to know the cost to advertise on TV and if you want a simple answer there are some ad agencies and the TV networks themselves that will give simple answers. They will tell you to pay $X-Dollars and they will give you Y-Number of spots. Great, there is the easy answer. Other than knowing how many spots you get for a given number of dollars you know nothing else.
In our South Florida ad agency we never give “deals” like that because although it is simple to understand it is pretty pointless. It is more important to learn what you business is all about and who you are trying to reach and then we can be more specific if needed or less specific. For example if you target people who want to buy a new car then we might advertise on some shows for a less expensive car and other shows for the more expensive models. If your target is primarily men over the age of 50 then we have certain shows we’d want to use to get the best results. Maybe you are looking for families and in that case their are certain shows that the entire family will sit together and watch. Once we have identified who you are trying to reach and we know your monthly budget then we come up with a plan and show you how we can target your typical client in the most cost effective way so that we remain within your budget. We won’t try to impress you with the number of times your TV commercial will run for a given amount of dollars; instead we will show you the “Reach” and “Frequency” numbers which are the only important numbers in TV advertising.
If for example you have a Fort Lauderdale business and we determine that there are 60,000 people who are your kind of client (right age, right income level, right gender and so on) then there is no reason to advertise all over South Florida to people who do not fit your target. This is why the big number of spots for a seemingly small amount of dollars is a waste of money. There is no targeting in the “X-Number of spots for Y-Number of dollars” plan. Also in those plans the sales reps never want to talk about reach and frequency. We would custom tailor a TV advertising schedule to reach those 60,000 people and if we can reach about 25% of them this month and get them to see your spot about 10-15 times then we should see some good results from that. If we keep doing that month after month then your products or services in your area will be well known.
A wine store owner once explained to me that some wine stores will have a tasting and offer everyone cheese between the different wine they are tasting. The cheese coats your tongue and helps to hide bitterness and imperfections in the wine allowing cheaper wines to taste better. When the wine shop owner BUYS wine for the store they will have grapes not cheese because the grapes clean their palette and allow them to taste the subtle differences between one wine and the other.
The big number of spots for a cheap price is similar to giving people cheese and then selling them inferior wines. To be a wise buyer of TV advertising we suggest the following:
Think about who you are trying to reach and be realistic. Many clients tell us “EVERYONE needs what we have”. It is nice to be enthusiastic about your products or services and being realistic will help us to invest your advertising dollars wisely. For example if both men and women would benefit equally from your product or service and you find that 80% of the time it is the woman that comes into your store then let’s take the easy route. Let’s advertise more towards women.
Think of a realistic advertising budget that you can stick with each month. It is pointless to do a “test to see if TV advertising works” because this has already been tested countless times since the TV was invented. We know TV advertising works and running the minimum amount to see if it works will produce minimal results and will convince you (incorrectly) that TV advertising does not work.
Let’s discuss why people who already are your customers became your customers. What was it about your company that made them come to you? That may be something we want to reinforce in your TV commercial production.
With a well thought out media buying plan and a reasonable TV advertising budget we can help your business to be successful with TV advertising in South Florida or anywhere in the USA.
+ Rick Goldman