Majority of TV viewer 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 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.
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 majority of people.
Governments and businesses found they could attract 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 growing popularity of TV, the advertising focus saw migration from cinema halls to homes. Governments and businesses began paying TV channels to telecast advertisements and important announcements.
This trend continues till date.
Relevance of TV Commercials
Despite the popularity of 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 till date, despite surging popularity of digital marketing and the Internet.
Pros & Cons 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 continue to flourish till 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 commercial, 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 advertsing 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 subscription adds to buffer 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 provide the much needed break for people to rise from their couches and fetch snacks, make calls, use washroom or any other purpose. If you notice, it would be clear that a 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 depend upon 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,
Cons 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 a TV advertising. And then there’s that exorbitant expense on production and getting clearances from concerned authorities before a TV commercial goes on air.
TV channels also have to ensure they get highest possible audience to attract advertisers. This means extra efforts and higher expenses on producing or buying shows that would attract 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 the 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 upon for TV advertising.
One wrong move and the company loses its money on 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 channel they don’t watch. That’s the reason there are international agencies that rate viewership of TV channels and their shows.
3. Limited Time of TV Commercials
TV channels accept advertising on minutes and hours basis. This mean, they don’t charge per commercial. Instead, their rate depends upon duration of the TV commercial itself. The longer a TV commercial, higher the 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 customer. As I explain earlier, TV commercial 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 featuring 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.
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, as I believe.