The Disadvantages of TV Advertising

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017

Though it's often used to reach a large audience and build awareness, television is an expensive medium for small companies to include in advertising campaigns. Additional drawbacks of TV include negative audience attitudes, a fleeting message and inefficient market targeting.

High Costs

Production and spot placements are the two significant types of costs included in TV advertising. Though you may get a discount for an extended campaign, production costs on a typical small-business 30-second TV commercial are as much as $20,000 in large cities. Then you pay another $5,000 to $10,000 each month for a package of spots on a particular station. If you want to expand your reach through a higher volume of ads or more TV stations, the costs increase even more. For small mom-and-pop shops, TV advertising is simply not in the budget.

Negative Audience Attitudes

Outside of the Super Bowl, when commercials are part of the spectacle, most people don't like to watch ads. Getting through this audience attitude with a powerful message is a challenge. First, a large percentage of the typical TV show audience never sees your commercial because they skip through it on a digital video recorder. Others get up and use the restroom or hit the fridge during breaks. Even when consumers are planted in front of the screen, the clutter from numerous other ads can make your 30-second spot nothing more than a blip on the radar.

Fleeting Message

Like radio, TV ads are a fleeting message. The spots runs for 30 or 60 seconds, and any lingering effect takes place in the conscious or subconscious minds of audience members. In some cases, an inattentive consumer experiences your ads but would have a hard time recounting the concept or your brand just a few minutes later. Another drawback of the limited time frame in a TV commercial is that you don't have time to demonstrate the value and benefits of your product in depth. To overcome this obstacle, some companies pay for 15- or 30-minute infomercials.

Warnings

  • The inattentiveness of typical audience members and the fleeting nature of broadcast messages contribute to higher expenditures if you want to make a strong impression with television advertising.

Inefficient Targeting

Television is a great medium with which to reach a lot of people, but it isn't very efficient. During a popular time slot, you might pay to reach an audience of 500,000 people in a large metro area, but only 10 percent of those people fit your target market criteria. In contrast, magazines and digital platforms offer enhanced targeting, but usually not the massive reach of TV.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.