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What is Broadcast Advertising?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Broadcast advertising is radio and television commercials. Broadcast media reaches a broad audience. Radio and television broadcast marketing is known as mass marketing since national or even worldwide audiences can be reached. Advertising is one of the components of marketing. Marketing promotes services, products and ideas through specific channels.

Broadcast advertising persuades consumers of the benefits of advertisers' brands. Organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitor television and radio commercials to make sure advertisers and broadcasters aren't making false claims that may mislead consumers into buying their products. Radio and television stations must ensure commercials meet FTC standards before broadcasting them.

Advertisers pay broadcasters for a spot. An advertising spot is typically 30 seconds on both radio and television, although occasionally it may run up to 60 seconds. Although most broadcast advertising is paid, free public service announcements are typical broadcasting fare on television and radio. Broadcasters allow nonprofit groups and the government a limited number of free spots to promote messages and information for the general safety of the public. Public service announcements may include anti-drug messages or information about what to do in an influenza outbreak.

The widespread use of broadcast advertising dates back to the 1920s. Radio shows and then television programs began to be popular. Companies that sold products began to sponsor the programs by paying broadcasters to spread their promotional messages to consumers. Early on, the advertiser's name was often used with the show's title to signify the broadcast time they had purchased for their promotion such as the 1920s and 1930s radio show, "The Champion Spark Plug Hour."

Today, broadcast advertising agencies create and produce radio and/or television ads for broadcast. Their clients are companies with products or services to promote. In general, larger rather than small businesses tend to advertise on television or radio. This changes for local channels however. Broadcast advertising agencies consult with clients to advise them if local or national broadcasting would be the best marketing strategy for the client’s product and budget.

Budget is a main concern in broadcasting commercials. Businesses often hire marketing consultants to determine the return on investment (ROI) possibilities of spending on television or radio advertising spots. Advertising market researchers may run sample commercials for test audiences to determine their response to ads before the client chooses to broadcast them.

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Discussion Comments
By MrMoody — On May 19, 2011

@everetra - I’m afraid I don’t share your opinion on cable television advertising. Yes, it’s cheap, but I think a radio advertisement is more effective than cable. Not everyone has cable, nor do people stay up late to watch television when those inexpensive spots may be seen. You can usually run a radio advertisement far more frequently during that same month than you could a cable advertisement, for the same amount of money.

In my opinion it delivers a greater return on investment, and that’s why so many local businesses use radio to get their message out. As for targeting a demographic, radio wins out here as well. Radio stations, including talk radio and stations that play music, explicitly target certain demographics. You can focus like a laser with radio more than you can with cable, because people are far more selective about what radio stations they listen to than what cable television channels they may watch at any given moment.

By everetra — On May 17, 2011

I believe that cable television advertising is the secret weapon for local businesses wanting to get their message out to as many people as possible, at the cheapest possible price. I have a friend who runs a local computer supply store, and he tells me he pays a few hundred dollars to run his spots on cable television in prime time several times a month.

Had he run his radio advertisement on regular broadcast television, he would have easily paid thousands of dollars for those same spots in prime time. Another advantage of cable is that you can usually have the cable stations run the ads in select zones that target your demographic. You wind up with a bulls-eye marketing strategy, focusing only on those people who want what you have to sell.

By anon70926 — On Mar 16, 2010

Oh! I see. thank you for that. Good blessing to you all!

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