How to Buy TV Advertising That Moves The Needle
Though many companies have shifted their media budget’s toward online advertising, television advertising is still the best way to hit a large, engaged audience in a short amount of time. According to a 2018 study by Thinkbox, investing in TV increases effectiveness by 40%, making it the most effective medium.
As the owner of a growing business or brand, it’s important to research how to buy TV advertising before you start contacting agencies and media buyers. While you may think that producing a high-quality commercial and running it during a prime TV slot is not in your budget, you may be surprised to find out what’s possible, whether you’re buying national, local, or even streaming media.
TV Advertising Best Practices
No matter the ultimate objective of your advertising campaign, there are some best practices you should follow when buying TV advertising. Whether you’re working with a TV advertising agency or producing the commercial in-house, generally, your ads will be more effective when you follow these principles.
- Mention Your Brand Early & Often
When running a TV ad, it’s important to mention your brand within the first couple of seconds, especially if you’re lesser-known.
- Include Your Brand In The Storyline
For example, let’s say your brand sells a line of vitamins. The ad storyline may center around a family having breakfast, and it features the vitamin product on the middle of the table. As the mother or father brings the children breakfast, she says, “and don’t forget to take your vitamins.”
- Keep It Simple
Your ad will be 30 to 60 seconds long, and you’ll have maybe five to six seconds to grab the viewer’s attention, so it’s important to keep your concept and messaging simple and to the point.
- Prioritize Quality
When you advertise on TV, tens of thousands, if not millions, of people will be exposed to your brand, so don’t cut corners when it comes to production quality. If your commercial looks cheap, people will think your brand is cheap. This does not mean that your production costs need to be outrageous, but if you have a smaller production budget, just factor that into your concept and storyline.
- Be Cognizant Of The Laws
Before running your TV ads, it’s important that you’re aware of FTC rules and how they may impact your messaging. Confirm that it is legal to advertise your product on TV and that your messaging doesn’t violate any regulations before purchasing your media.
Establish Your Goals, Targeting, & Budgets
Before buying TV advertising time, the first things you’ll want to establish are your target audience, your goals, and your campaign budget. These three pieces of information are vital for any individual or media buying agency to effectively produce and broadcast a TV commercial.
Know Your Budget
The first thing you’ll want to establish is your budget. It’s good to have an overall budget in mind, but you should also know you’ll need to split the budget between production costs, the costs required to make your commercial, and media costs, which are the costs necessary to run your commercial on the air.
If this is your first time buying TV advertising, you might be surprised that you can have a commercial professionally produced in just about any major U.S. city for $5,000 to $20,000. Keep in mind that this represents the lower end of costs; higher-end creative and production agencies will have more significant price tags associated with their work.
After creating your commercial, you’ll need to buy television ad space to position the ad in front of the right audience. Several factors will be included in your media buying costs like:
- What station, network, or channel the ad is run on
- The length of the time slot
- Whether the ad slot will have a local, regional, or national reach
- What time the ad will air
- How many times the ad airs in a day/week/month
Each of those factors contributes to your media costs. For instance, it will cost less to purchase a 30-second time slot on the local news channel than running the same 30-second ad to a regional audience during a primetime network show.
Once you’ve established your budget, you can plan your audiences, media buys, and campaign goals.
TV Advertising Audience Targeting
Once you’ve planned your budget, you should figure out who your target audience is made up of. The top three primary demographic identifiers you should start with are gender, age, and income level. To create a tighter target audience, you may find it best to add other identifiers, such as education status or ethnicity.
The brand owner and management will generally know who makes up the target audience in most cases. However, with further analysis and the right data sources, deeper or expanded audiences can be identified. Market research and third-party data are great ways to expand your audience effectively.
In addition to an audience, you should clearly define your campaign goals before getting started. This will help you when designing your storyline and messaging, and it will help you better analyze the effectiveness of your campaign once it’s complete.
In some cases, TV ads are focused on raising awareness and generating sales for a specific product, for example, a toilet paper commercial. In other cases, the ad’s primary goal is to create more brand awareness, like the famous “Think Different” ad by Apple.
Some companies use TV spots to generate a direct response from viewers, such as participation in an upcoming flash sale or phone calls to inquire about a new service. Television is a versatile and flexible advertisement medium, so you can buy ad space for multiple purposes.
You should also figure out your ROAS (return on ad spend) goals. For example, if your planned spend is $100,000, a 3x ROAS would mean $300,000 in sales due to the campaign.
Plan Your Media Format & Media Buying Strategy
TV media formats have rapidly evolved over the past ten years and will continue to do so as both streaming technology and advertising technology advance. In addition to traditional broadcast formats like cable TV, there are now countless streaming platforms and services that are transforming the tv advertising landscape.
Broadcast TV vs. Cable TV Advertising
You have options for the media format for your television ads. The most basic decision you can make is choosing between broadcast and cable television.
Broadcast TV includes local channels that don’t require cable access, such as FOX and ABC. Everyone with a television and an antenna has access to broadcast TV because antennas pick up channels for free over the air.
Because more people have access to broadcast TV, putting your commercial in this media format means it will have the broadest possible reach. If your campaign goal is to increase brand awareness at a national level, broadcast TV could be a good fit for your needs.
Cable TV is a paid service, so while it has a very broad reach, it’s not quite as broad as traditional broadcast TV. However, cable TV has a much wider variety of channel and content options, and the programs on these channels tend to be more popular overall with viewers.
For example, viewers may engage with channels like Fox News or Food Network for multiple hours per day, while they may only tune into ABC one to two nights per week to watch a specific program.
OTT, or over-the-top content, is just another term for streaming TV. OTT content streams directly to viewers through an internet service that displays the video content on television without a traditional cable setup.
OTT platforms like Hulu, Peacock, and Sling TV all run targeted ads in conjunction with their on-demand video content. One of the benefits that OTT advertising offers over traditional TV advertising is the data that’s provided. Since OTT ads are served through the Internet via streaming devices, the platforms can capture more data about their users than a traditional TV network could.
With many people enjoying television programing without cable or broadcast TV, it is good to consider OTT ads as one of your media formats. Millions of households throughout the U.S. consume on-demand content on connected TVs, tablets, mobile phones, and gaming consoles.
Develop Media Buying Strategy
Armed with your target audience, media buying budget, and campaign goals, you can now establish your media buying strategy.
The most effective media buys will reach as broad of a targeted audience as possible, for as small a media spend as possible. As a media buying agency, we specialize in hyper-effective media buying by purchasing remnant TV advertising. If you’d like to learn more about our approach, don’t hesitate to contact us today.
While less common, some media buying strategies will revolve around spending the entire budget to run the commercial just one time, i.e., a Superbowl commercial. Typically, advertisers will plan a longer-term strategy over weeks or months for a more steady awareness-building campaign.
Many advertisers will even blend media types, spreading the spend across various media platforms to ensure the audience is fully covered. For instance, you could include both OTT ads with cable TV ads in your media buying strategy.
There are different ways to buy media, including manual bidding, which involves direct bidding on ad space without a third-party service. Programmatic media buying uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to automate ad purchases. Another option is direct media buying, which includes negotiations for ad space with an advertiser.
Produce Your Creative Assets
Once you determine your media format and media buying strategy, you can begin producing your TV commercial. Your production methods will influence the commercial-making progress and budget.
You can produce your television ad alone as a DIY project. This route will require you to rent or buy professional video and audio equipment. You will also need to hire actors, a production team, scout and secure locations, and take care of all other expenses associated with making television advertisements.
If you don’t have professional TV production experience, working with your local broadcast or cable company may be best instead of producing your assets alone. Local stations usually have production teams on staff that help small businesses craft ads. If you intend to spend a lot of money on TV spots over time, some TV stations will combine production and ad costs.
If you have a decent production budget, it’s advised you work with an agency to produce your commercial. This will likely lead to the highest quality commercial and give your campaign the best chance for success.
Execute Your Media Buying Strategy
Buying TV ad space usually involves talking with account executives, sales associates, and other media representatives to negotiate your proposed advertisement’s price, time, and length. You can also use online platforms to buy cable and OTT ad space in some cases.
Handling this process on your own is doable but complex, and it requires a lot of research, planning, networking, negotiation skills, and time to secure your preferred TV advertisement slot. While this approach can work for some people, we always advise you to engage a media buying agency like The Remnant Agency to handle this part of your campaign.
Buy The Media On Your Own
Depending on your budget and industry experience, you might find it easier to cut out the middleman and buy media without a media buying agency. For instance, if you are familiar with buying ads but new to media buying, you could use your experience to purchase TV ads.
You might also feel more comfortable taking a hands-on approach to TV advertising. Some people prefer to buy media without an agency’s help because they think they know what’s best for their product or service. They may also want the experience of communicating and networking with salespeople and executives.
Use A Media Buying Agency
Understanding the nuances of TV ads is not something that will occur overnight. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you might think hiring a media buying agency to secure TV ad space is a waste of time and resources, but it could be the best step you take.
Media buying agencies have years of experience facilitating the sale of airtime across multiple mediums. These advertising professionals have the expertise to negotiate media and execute media buying strategies flawlessly. They can also optimize ad campaigns to help clients see a higher Return on Investment (ROI) than if they purchased ad space without professional help.
You might also want to work with a media buying agency for their connections. After many years in the industry, these firms often have long-standing relationships with media vendors. These relationships sometimes come with bonuses like access to prime media outlets with the best rates.
If you prefer not to go through media buying, you could hire an agency to do the work for you. Buying TV airtime involves more than you think, including media buy activation, data integrations, invoice reconciliation, and rating postings. You can focus on more important things and allow the media buying agency to handle the dirty work.
Buying Remnant TV Ads
Sometimes, TV networks, OTT platforms, and other media companies can’t sell all of their ad space. Instead of losing money for that ad space, these companies will sell that space at the last minute for a considerable discount. Remnant TV advertising allows us to hit a significantly larger audience than you could hit with a traditional TV ad buy for the same spend.
If you’re interested in launching a TV advertising campaign and want to explore remnant advertising as an option, schedule a time to speak with a member of our team today. We’d be happy to run you through the benefits of remnant TV ads, where we can run your ads, and the types of results we’ve achieved for our clients.