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What is Television Advertising?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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With billions of faithful viewers scattered across every continent, the medium of television is considered by many marketing experts to be the ultimate platform for targeted advertising. A single 30 or 60 second television commercial broadcast during an event such as the Super Bowl or the Olympics can easily reach the eyes and ears of billions of potential customers. Television advertising may be more expensive to produce and broadcast than other forms of advertising, but it also has the power to connect with the broadest audience simultaneously.

Television advertising is similar to radio advertising in the sense of relaying a specific sales pitch in a limited amount of time. Most television ads are either 30 or 60 seconds in duration, long enough to give the viewers pertinent information or create a specific opinion of the product or service, but not long enough to lose the viewer's attention. Television commercials are generally placed at strategic breaks during the main programming and the few minutes until the top of the next hour.

Visual as well as audio interest is very important in television advertising. Instead of employing a single voice-over actor to read the advertising copy over a musical bed, actors can create a visual image which further enhances the appeal of the commercial. Images of a happy family gathering around a dinner table can enhance the appeal of a new line of canned soups, for example. An attractive man surrounded by beautiful models can suggest the sex appeal of a new cologne as well.

Because television viewers can easily discern a cheaply produced television commercial from regular programming, many television advertising agencies employ professional copywriters, directors and actors to produce professional caliber commercials that viewers will remember long afterwards.

Even if the images or copy appears to have little to do with the actual product or service, viewers often remember shocking or nostalgic or humorous imagery in a commercial. One famous television ad from the 1970s featured a menacing football player named Mean Joe Greene accepting a soft drink from a young fan. The inspirational imagery created a favorable impression of the soft drink, even though it only appeared in the actual commercial for a few seconds.

Television advertising is similar to radio advertising in other ways. Because of time limitations, most televisions spots must be precisely 30 or 60 seconds in duration. Advertisers pay television stations to "drop" the commercials during a set number of local breaks, which is why viewers tend to see more locally produced commercials during overnight or afternoon hours. During prime time hours, commercial breaks are generally filled with spots produced for national or regional clients. The cost of having a television spot run on a particular station can range from a few hundred dollars for a small local station to several million dollars for a single TV commercial aired during the Super Bowl.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By sunshine31 — On Aug 09, 2010

Cupake15- Sometimes a company will create controversial advertisements to air during primetime national programming.

Although many times controversial ads will be pulled, the controversy that it creates draws so much more attention to a company that has reached their objective of drawing more attention to the product or service.

A perfect example of this can be that Carl Junior's hamburger chain ads, as well as some of the PETA ads. The organization received a lot of attention because their ads were too racy for regular television programming.

The extra attention came from news programs that commented and showed the advertisement so viewers can understand the context of the story.

This added attention which was exactly what the companies were looking for. Controversial television advertising can be very effective as well.

By cupcake15 — On Aug 09, 2010

SurfNturf- Many companies consider buying television advertising in order to expand their market base.

Local television advertising is a little bit more cost-effective but it doesn't reach a national audience.

Sometimes a local TV station will provide a company with a significant discounts or even place the ad for free as long as the company decides to advertise with that station.

This can save a local business owner a lot of money. Also local advertisements are usually about two minutes of a 30 minute show. The other six minutes are for nationwide advertising, and the rest of the time is for the program. Local advertising rates could be as low as $1000 for a 30 second spot.

By surfNturf — On Aug 09, 2010

While buying television advertising can be expensive it can also reach a larger amount of potential customers.

Television advertising costs are broken down into production costs and the cost of airing the commercial.

Most commercials are sold in 30 second time blocks. Just to give you an idea, the average nationwide ad on primetime television that's about 30 seconds long costs an average of $350,000.

That is just the cost of producing the commercial. That doesn't even consider the cost of airing the commercial.

Airing the commercial can cost 100,000 or more for national markets. The higher the viewership of the program the more expensive the advertising is going to be.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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