Media Buying and Inbound Marketing Blog

How Much Does It Cost to Advertise Your Business on TV?

By Jane Peters on October 17, 2011 |


TV advertisingTV advertising still offers the largest reach of any medium.  The ability to see and hear a message is very powerful.  No one would be spending millions on Super Bowl spots if it wasn't effective.  But everyone can't afford the Super Bowl. 

There are many reasons to be on TV, but it is not always the best medium for your marketing goals.

When someone asks me how much it costs to advertise on TV, I always ask them who are you trying to reach and what do you want them to do?  What is your goal?  Do you want to promote a special sale?  Increase name ID? Introduce a new product?

These are all aspects of the marketing plan and help determine if TV is the right medium for you and the strategy you should adopt.

There are many variables that will affect the cost of TV advertising such as:

1.  What is the size of the market where you want to advertise? New York City is much more expensive than Lexington, KY., but costs can also vary by how popular TV advertising is in each market.  Generally, the larger the market, the more it costs.

2. Who is the target audience? Targeting young men on TV is more expensive than targeting Women 35-54.  Working women can't be effectively reached with daytime spots (one of the cheaper dayparts to buy) and reaching Men usually involves the more expensive sports programming.  So your target can have an impact on how much you need to spend.

3. What is the length of the campaign? Are you planning on a special event that runs 5-10 days or a branding campaign that runs 6-8 weeks?

4. What time of year do you want to advertise?  Summer has the lowest audience levels and is therefore cheaper than the 4th Quarter when you compete with political and holiday advertising. January is generally one of the most efficient times to advertise, especially in colder markets, as people are watching more TV and rates are substantially lower.

5. How far in advance can you plan your campaign?  TV stations work with a limited number of commercials to sell.  Buying early helps you get a lower rate than waiting until a few weeks before you want to be on the air.  As inventory is sold, the cost of the remaining spots goes up.

6. Do you have a commercial or do you need one produced?  In the past, the high cost of TV production has thwarted would be advertisers.  However, with digital cameras and editors with a good program on their computers, the cost has dropped to a fraction of prior costs. Many companies have access to national spots that only need to have a local tag.  Epic spots are not necessary for a successful TV campaign. A straight forward message with good production values can be very effective.

Many people have no idea about how much they can afford or should be spending on their advertising.  Media reps will tell you between 5-7.5% of your yearly gross sales.  I've worked with franchisees that were told by the parent company they should be spending 10-12% of their gross sales. Both of these can lead to disaster. 

Roy H. Williams has a reliable guide to setting your ad budget.  You can find this formula at  This is a realistic way to determine what is reasonable for you to spend on your advertising and keep you out of trouble.

After determining your budget, you may have to concede that TV is not in the mix right now. Don't worry.  There are lots of alternatives and many ways to reach your target audience without over-spending. 

If you would like to know more about TV budgets and how to have a successful TV campaign, download our FREE guide "Mistakes to Avoid with Your TV Budget".


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