Volume 16 No. 4: Breaking down TV’s price dilemma

It's no secret that brand channels traditionally require a major investment.  

Take the Super Bowl for example, where ad prices have skyrocketed 16,371% since 1967. In 2022, the average cost of airtime was $6.5 million.  

It doesn’t matter that 115 million people watched the Super Bowl that year. For most brands, the cost makes a Super Bowl ad out of reach in the first place. 

But TV doesn’t always require a budget-breaking price tag. 


How upfront cost determines your TV campaign’s ROI potential 

Each week, we break down another marketing concept so you can skip the hype and get directly to what works. 

Sure, the Super Bowl is an extreme example of TV’s high costs. But it illustrates a broader truth: mass marketing channels can be expensive. It’s the biggest reason brands that don’t advertise on TV give for why they avoid the channel. 

But here’s the twist: if priced correctly, the reach of a channel like TV can justify the cost. Because the impact of a channel like TV is undeniable, even if you’re only looking at short-term results. 

77% of app-driven brands see a direct correlation between their TV campaigns and traffic to their mobile app. And ecommerce brands have seen triple-digit percentage revenue increases in the first year after launching TV. 

These results are why, according to VAB, 303 advertisers across 71 product categories launched national TV campaigns for the first time last year. That’s 303 new advertisers despite the recession worries and budget cuts that loomed. And no, these brands aren’t all spending Super Bowl-level budgets in order to find success. 

Based on your media buying approach, there are options for getting on TV at a number of price points. Here are three strategies that can help reach your audience on TV without breaking the bank:

  1. Diversify your media plan. Imagine you own a home renovation business that you advertise on HGTV. HGTV draws more than 700,000 people during primetime in one week, setting it among the biggest linear TV networks. Advertising there means you get visibility in front of your key audience on a premium network. But because of HGTV’s premium status, airings can be expensive. And when it comes to snagging airtime, you’re battling direct competitors. If HGTV is the only network in your media plan, you’ll need a hefty budget. And just because other networks might not be as perfect of a fit doesn’t mean they’re not valuable. 
  2. Be generous when searching for your audience. Consider casting a wide net. Your potential customers watch dozens of networks, all of which offer media at different price points. It’s just a matter of finding them across the vast media landscape. This is where targeting comes in. Start by identifying exactly who your audience is. Then, simply broaden that definition slightly to get the benefits of positive spill.
  3. Embrace technology to buy traditional media. The challenge, of course, when looking at potential media buys is the sheer amount of data that determines the best ways to reach your audience. Here’s where technology plays a crucial role. Use artificial intelligence to review the billions of data points that go into identifying optimal buys for your campaign. 

Key Takeaway: The secret to driving ROI with TV advertising is understanding and optimizing cost, especially around your media buys. When bought correctly, the vast reach of TV can offer unmatched returns for brands. 


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