The Disadvantages of TV Advertising

by Anam Ahmed ; Updated October 25, 2018

How many people do you know who love watching TV commercials? The number is likely pretty small and dwindling. With many other promotional vehicles from which to choose, including online advertising, public relations and direct marketing, small businesses do not have to select TV advertising as a way to communicate with their target audience. In fact, there are a number of disadvantages to TV advertising to which small businesses should take note before developing their marketing plans.

The advantages and disadvantages of TV advertising can vary based on what the business wants to achieve. Before venturing into creating a TV advertisement for your small business, take some time to evaluate your goals for the promotion. If you’re looking to reach a broad audience with a generic message, then TV advertisement might be a way to find success. However, if you’re interested in highly targeting your message as many businesses are today, there are likely better ways to spend your marketing budget.

Dealing with a Lack of Targeting

One of the major cons of TV advertising is the lack of targeting. While TV advertising is an excellent way for companies to reach a large and varied audience, it is not an effective way to target the specific audience segments that businesses serve. With a lack of targeting, businesses don’t have the option to hone in on their messaging and ensure it’s speaking to the specific problems their ideal customer is facing. Instead, with TV advertising, many organizations resort to promoting more generic brand and product messages which do not resonate as well. In addition, programming schedules change often, so it can be difficult to schedule your advertisement according to specific shows on key channels.

Encountering Fleeting Message Advertising

TV advertisements have a difficult task: They have to discuss problems the consumer is facing, demonstrate the value of your product or service, differentiate it from competing offers and showcase the credibility of your company, all within a matter of 15 to 30 seconds. It’s hard to effectively communicate a lot of information in such a short amount of time. If a viewer tunes in and watches the entire commercial, which is rare in itself, he doesn't have a lot of time to digest the information before the commercial is over. The clarity of the message can easily get lost in the short amount of time dedicated to the ad.

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Managing the High Costs

It’s no secret that TV advertising isn’t cheap. In fact, organizations can spend several hundred thousand dollars in creating and distributing an ad. Producing a TV commercial requires script writers, actors, film editors and advertising agencies. Production value is critical when trying to create an advertisement that stands out and actually catches the attention of consumers. Purchasing air time can be a complex art, as companies usually don’t air their commercial just once. Repetition is the key to getting messages across on TV, so organizations have to carefully select where, when and how often to air their ads, which all adds up in the budget department. Ads during prime time cost significantly more than ads that run in the middle of the night, but even those come with a big price tag.

Getting Viewer Attention

Many viewers don’t enjoy watching commercials. Viewers often change the channel during a commercial break. Some turn down the volume during commercials and do another activity, like talking on the phone. Others use the commercial time to grab a snack or use the bathroom, missing the advertisements entirely. In addition, these days, many people don’t watch TV at all, instead streaming their shows online or watching them on commercial-free media service providers such as Netflix. As a result, businesses miss out on a significant portion of viewers simply because they no longer watch TV.

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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