Television Advertising — How To Advertise On TV

7 min read·Jul 18, 2023

What Is Television Advertising? 

Television advertising is one of the most common and effective ways to get a product, service, or message in front of an audience. Brands can air or upload commercials on “traditional” Linear TV networks or streaming television, known as Connected TV. 

Many companies might ask, “Why should I advertise on TV?” With the rising popularity of streaming services and the declining popularity of traditional TV, is television advertising still worth it? 

One thing is for sure: TV advertising isn’t dead. It just looks a little different than it did 20 years ago. 

In this article on television advertising, we’ll cover: 

I.What are the types of TV advertising?

  • Linear TV advertising (regular ol’ broadcasting TV from the days of yore) vs. Connected TV advertising (internet-connected devices like Smart TVs and gaming consoles)

II. How to advertise on TV?

  • Learning how to get a commercial on TV is pretty easy and quite lucrative with the right strategy (who should you contact, Linear vs. CTV advertising, and cost). 

III. Major advantages and disadvantages of television advertising

IV. Why should I advertise on TV? 

I) What Are The Types of TV Advertising

The two main types of TV advertising are Linear TV advertising and Connected TV advertising (CTV). 

Linear TV is traditional TV programming. If you’re old enough, you remember the days of looking at a TV Guide to figure out what time your show would be on and then making sure you were planted on the couch in front of the television during that time. 

Programming isn’t streaming, and you’re confined to a set time on a set channel. 

For those who aren’t old enough to remember: I know, who would want to be confined to a set time to enjoy your favorite show? 

Why is it called linear TV instead of traditional TV or cable? 

Well, it can be called all of those things. But the word “linear” simply means you’re on a linear timeline of scheduled shows vs. streaming, where everything is always available. 

Isn’t Linear TV dead? 

Surprisingly, no. Not yet, anyway. 

Live news and live sports aren’t going away, and many of them air on Linear TV. Networks are making deals with streaming services or launching their own services (like NBC did with Peacock) to compete for a “streamer’s” attention.

56% of adults in the U.S. watched TV via cable or satellite in 2021. 

In that same study, we learned that 18-29-year-olds only account for 34% of the total cable/satellite users, while 65+ landed at 81%. 

It makes sense. Older people tend to have more money, and cable packages are more expensive than streaming subscriptions. 

That said, Linear TV is very much alive and well. 

Sure, the numbers may have gone down over the years, but that’s understandable, considering it didn’t have competition until streaming came along. 

Now, it does. 

What Is Connected TV?

Connected TV is an internet-connected device where you can stream your favorite content, whenever you want, directly to your TV.

Smart TVs, connected devices like sticks and dongles, and gaming consoles are all examples of CTV. 

For the 2020-2021 television season, Nielsen reported 121 million homes with televisions in the U.S. In 2021, there were roughly 129.9 million households in the U.S. 

You can see what that means. 

Almost every house in the U.S. has a television, which means that television advertising is a prime opportunity to get in front of your audience. 

II) How To Advertise on TV

How you advertise on TV has a lot to do with what type of television advertising you aim to do, so let’s look at Linear TV advertising vs. Connected TV advertising. 

How Do You Get A Commercial On Linear TV? 

Linear TV advertising means you get your ads in front of eyeballs on a predetermined schedule. Consumers can’t skip the ads — an added benefit for advertisers. 

To get a commercial on television, you can go two different routes. 

  • Contact your local broadcast station or cable provider to negotiate and buy ad space. 
  • Hire an ad agency to do the heavy lifting for you. 

What Is The Cost of Linear TV Advertising? 

That really depends on the when, where, and who. If buying an ad spot for the Super Bowl, be prepared to shell out millions of dollars. 

Historically, “traditional” Linear TV advertising landed anywhere from $100k on up. But is that still true today? 

The cost of Linear TV advertising depends on a few variables: 

  • Time and day of the week
  • Length of the commercial (15 seconds, 30 sec, 60 sec, etc.)
  • How frequently the ad will run
  • Number of expected viewers

For example, if you’re running an ad on a local station that nobody watches, the actual cost for the ad placement could be as little as $25. In contrast, a prime placement on Game of Thrones before it was streaming could land you in the tens of thousands or more. 

And then you have to consider the costs of producing the commercial, ranging from raw, film school student-style production at minimal costs to a full-blown production. 

How Do You Run An Ad On Streaming TV? 

First, you must decide which platform you want to advertise on. You’ll need to look at your CTV advertising goals and then compare those to what each platform offers. 

Once you’ve decided on the best strategy and course of action, it’s time to connect with that platform’s ad management tool. 

How Much Does It Cost To Run An Ad On CTV? 

Like most answers regarding ad spend… it depends. Some of the same variables come into play as Linear TV, but you have some added benefits that we’ll discuss a little further down in this article. 

You can read a deep dive here: How Much Does It Cost To Run A CTV Campaign

Unlike Linear TV advertising, where advertisers pay regardless of whether the viewer is interested in the ad or not, with CTV ads, you can pay based on how engaged the user is (whether they skipped the ad or not) with a cost-per-completed-view campaign. 

Essentially, you pay for performance, potentially saving a lot of wasted money. 

III) What Are The Major Advantages and Disadvantages Of Television Advertising

The advantages of Linear TV advertising are as follows: 

  • Reaches people in mass
  • Unskippable content
  • Builds trust and brand awareness
  • Full attention of the viewer without competing ads

The disadvantages of Linear TV advertising include the following: 

  • Trickier to track ROI 
  • Cost can be prohibitive depending on when, where, and how many viewers the ad will have
  • Difficult to maintain engagement post-ad
  • Ads aren’t clickable

Linear TV advertising can still see huge returns on investment and sometimes offers greater trust-building because people already know how difficult it can be (or used to be) to get a slot on national television. 

The advantages of CTV advertising are: 

  • Reaches people in mass
  • Unskippable content
  • Builds trust and brand awareness
  • Full attention of the viewer without competing ads
  • Higher engagement through highly targeted ads
  • Easy to track results
  • Cost savings when based on performance
  • Easy to retarget and re-engage viewers
  • Greater accessibility to a large audience for smaller brands 

The disadvantage of CTV advertising includes the following: 

  • Ads aren’t clickable

As you can see, there are some incredible advantages to CTV advertising and definitely some positives to traditional Linear TV advertising if done strategically. 

IV) Why Should I Advertise On TV

Almost everyone has a television in their household. People love their shows, and sometimes, people even love commercials, depending on how they’re delivered. 

Advertising on TV can be a more efficient way of getting in front of your audience because, when the ad is rolling, there are no other distractions on the screen. 

With TV advertising and a solid strategy, you can amplify your brand for a longer-lasting impact than the quick hits of social media. 

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