TV Advertising: 3 Major Pros and Cons of Television Commercials

Gain insight into the pros and cons of TV advertising. Learn about 3 major advantages and disadvantages of television commercials, and how they could benefit or hurt your business.

The majority of TV viewers find those frequent TV commercials very annoying. Commercials on TV also irritate us while watching movies and other shows. Most TV channels, including premium ones, have countless commercials.

While we find TV commercials undesirable, they hold a lot of pros and cons for both, the audience and the advertiser. And they also benefit TV channels in several ways.

Regardless of whether you’re a TV viewer or advertiser, it’s important to fully understand the pros and cons of television advertising and the different types of TV commercials.

Therefore, let’s discuss the pros and cons of TV advertising for everyone, without bias and with due respect to all parties.

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History of TV Advertising

Actually, television advertising isn’t a new or recent phenomenon. It traces its history to those heady days when cinema was getting popular and affordable for the majority of people.

Governments and businesses found they could attract the attention of large masses of people when they show something before, during, and sometimes after a movie.

This popularity of TV commercials became very important during World War II. The Allies and Axis powers would use short documentaries-of five minutes- to boost sagging public morale, spread propaganda, and other purposes. Businesses would use small slots at cinema houses to advertise their products and services, either with a short commercial or just a single slide.

With the growing popularity of TV, the advertising focus saw the migration from cinema halls to homes. Governments and businesses began paying TV channels to telecast advertisements and important announcements.

This trend continues to date.

Relevance of TV Commercials

Despite the popularity of the Internet and online entertainment resources such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and others, TV advertising remain relevant. In fact, you would definitely have seen them on all such resources. YouTube Premium promises to be 100 percent ad-free but that’s also not true, as I will explain further.

The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the darkest for humankind. That’s due to the Novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Disease 2019, also known as Covid-19. One of the most effective ways to contain this pandemic was with TV commercials by various organizations and governments.

This is a clear indicator that TV commercials remain relevant to date, despite the surging popularity of digital marketing and the Internet.

Advantages & Disadvantages of TV advertising

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of Television. I’ll be discussing these from the viewpoint of viewers, TV channels, and advertisers.

Pros of TV Advertising

The very fact that Television continues to flourish to date proves there’re several benefits of advertising on what’s commonly known as the Idiot Box.

1. Free Channels

The free channels you watch on TV are not exactly free. The advertiser is paying a TV channel for their telecast. And you’re paying for these free channels by spending time watching TV commercials, which is something advertisers desire. It helps generate awareness of their brand, product or service, agenda, or cause.

TV channels also benefit from advertising. That’s because every TV channel has a high operating cost. They need to pay for serials and movies you watch and have staff on their payroll. Satellite TV channels need to rent expensive transponders on satellites to reach the broadest possible audiences worldwide.

Therefore, the greatest pros of TV advertising are that it meets everyone’s needs. It helps people know about something, enables advertisers to get their message out, and pays expensive bills and payrolls of TV channels.

2. Premium TV Channels

Though a Premium TV channel charges subscriptions, it’s much lower than what you’d pay if there’re no advertisers. These TV channels are known as ‘Premium’ because they have exclusive content. And TV channels have to pay telecast rights for these programs and movies to companies that own their copyrights.

TV commercials cover this cost to a great extent. Whatever you pay as a subscription adds to buffer the operational costs of the TV channel. That’s the reason that prime-time shows usually have lots of ads before, during, and after they’re on air. Because that’s the time when the highest number of people are watching the TV show. This helps advertisers again because they’re reaching the highest number of people.

Often, Television advertising provides a much-needed break for people to rise from their couches and fetch snacks, make calls, use the washroom, or any other purpose. If you notice, it would be clear that TV advertising drives home a point through audio and video. Therefore, you get the message in most cases, even while away from the screen.

3. Provides Niche Audiences

A TV commercial is easily customizable. It’s possible to dub the commercial in any language or provide subtitles where necessary. Therefore, an advertiser can reach a specific community, people from a particular income group or region with a TV commercial. Usually, TV advertising depends upon the demographics of the place.

This is again a win-win situation for everyone. The niche audience gets to know what would suit their budgets and needs, a channel gets money for its operations while the advertiser bags customers,

Disadvantages of TV Commercials

Obviously, TV commercials also come with some major cons. It’s not always a win-win situation for every channel or advertiser or audience.

1. High Cost of TV advertising

TV commercials cost a lot to make. Advertisers have to pay models and celebrities to act as brand ambassadors of sorts with TV advertising. And then there’s that exorbitant expense of production and getting clearances from concerned authorities before a TV commercial goes on air.

TV channels also have to ensure they get the highest possible audience to attract advertisers. This means extra efforts and higher expenses on producing or buying shows that would attract the largest possible viewership. There’re no guarantees that a specific show would be a hit. Even if it flops, the TV channel has to continue its telecast. And foot the expenses without much or no advertising support.

2. Too Many TV Channels

Another major problem that advertisers, viewers, and TV channels face is stiff competition. There’re numerous TV channels of every genre that target a specific community or location. This poses a question to advertisers about which channel to spend on for TV advertising.

One wrong move and the company loses its money on the production of the TV commercial because it won’t translate as hordes of customers. Viewers also can lose on an advertisement of something they like just because it comes on the channel they don’t watch. That’s the reason there are international agencies that rate the viewership of TV channels and their shows.

3. Limited Time of TV Commercials

TV channels accept advertising on a minutes and hours basis. This means they don’t charge per commercial. Instead, their rate depends upon the duration of the TV commercial itself. The longer a TV commercial, the higher price the advertiser pays. That’s the reason majority of TV commercials are of 15 seconds to half-minute durations. Rarely do we see TV commercials that drag over a minute.

Now an advertiser has to get the message across to the audience in those few precious seconds only. If they fail, it means there would be few or no customers. As I explain earlier, TV commercials cost a lot. If an ad campaign flops or fails for any reason, the company’s reputation can also get ruined. It’s also impossible for viewers to gauge what an advertiser is trying to say t them within those few seconds.

Indirect TV Advertising

There’s also something known as indirect advertising on TV. This happens in a very subtle form. If you observe some movies or TV shows closely, you might come across a brand or product featured several times.

These are deliberate. For example, you might see the heroine visit a store or restaurant of a popular brand or a hero mentioning some product specifically by its name. These are subtle forms of advertising also known as indirect advertising or “plugs” in advertising parlance.

A TV channel that produces the show usually sells these “plugs” to advertisers for a considerable amount of money. However, a TV channel doesn’t get anything if the “plug” is on a show or movie taken from external sources.

Closing Thoughts

In my humble opinion, TV advertising is necessary and desirable. It helps TV channels to provide our favorite shows and movies at fraction of the cost of renting or buying videos. Viewers also learn about new stuff, special offers, safety warnings, and health precautions as well as public announcements through Television commercials. Hence, they’re necessary, I believe.

FAQ

What are TV ads called?

TV ads, also known as television commercials or television advertising, are short segments of audio-visual content that are created by companies or organizations to promote their products or services on television.

What are the 4 types of TV advertising?

TV advertising includes four main types: Spot ads, Infomercials, Product Placement, and Sponsorship. Spot ads are short commercials aired during specific programs or timeslots. Infomercials are longer, educational ads. Product Placement involves including a product or brand within a TV show or movie. Sponsorship is when a company pays to have its brand associated with a specific program or event. These types of advertising allow companies to reach specific audiences and achieve specific marketing goals.

How much does a 30 second TV ad cost?

The cost of a 30-second TV ad varies depending on the network, time of day, and location. On average, a 30-second ad spot on broadcast TV can cost $5,000-$30,000 while cable networks can cost $1,500-$20,000. Prime time spots and larger markets tend to cost more. Keep in mind, this cost doesn't include the production cost of the ad.

What is the most successful ad?

It is difficult to determine the most successful TV ad as success can be measured in various ways. However, some of the most iconic and successful TV ads include Coca-Cola's “Hilltop” commercial from 1971, Apple's “Think Different” campaign from 1997, Nike's “Just Do It” campaign from 1988, Old Spice's “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” from 2010 and more recently “Like a Girl” campaign by Always from 2014. These ads were praised for their simplicity, emotional appeal, and their ability to connect with the intended audience and achieve their desired outcome.