Spot TV advertising refers to the common advertising approach of buying 30 or 60 second ad placements on a particular station. Before an advertiser buys spots, it must produce one or more commercials. Then, the company or its ad agency buys a package of spots through a network or station.

Typical Buying Procedures

TV advertising normally is purchased as part of a concentrated or assorted media mix within an ad campaign. Campaigns have prescribed lengths, such as a month, six weeks, three months or six months. The advertiser determines how much of its budget to allocate to TV, and then works with a sales representative for the network or station. The goal is to prepare a package of spots that appear during the times and on the shows that reach the intended audience.

Spot rotations - Spots ranging from 30 to 60 seconds are purchased for a particular time of day, such as morning, afternoon, primetime and late night. An advertiser may concentrate all of its spots during particular days or times of day, or spread its spots out throughout the week and day parts. The media sales rep prepares a programming schedule for review after discussing goals and target market details with the advertiser.

TV Advertising Benefits

Relative to other media, TV has several key advantages. It offers the most creative potential of any medium because of its multi-sensory appeal. Creative directors can use dialogue, copy, sounds, movement, scenery, lighting and action to deliver a compelling message or story. TV spots are especially useful form companies with visually-appealing products that need to show them off, according to Inc. Wide reach in a local, regional or national market, as well as emotional appeals in messages, are other core benefits of TV ads.

TV Advertising Drawbacks and Costs

A primary drawback of television is its cost. Between production and placement costs, TV advertising is out of the budget for many local companies. Production costs range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. A simple 30-second spot with acting talent can run at least $2,500 in a typical market, according to Inc. The costs escalate substantially for national productions and media buys. "Sunday Night Football" was the most expensive show to advertise on during 2013 to 2014, according to Ad Age, with a price tag of $593,700 per 30-second spot.

Other drawbacks of TV include:

  • Limited geographic selectivity - A business must pay to reach all viewers in a station's coverage area, which often means waste and inefficiency.
  • Fleeting message - TV spots range from 15 to 60 seconds, according to Inc. Regardless of the length, the message is fleeting. You have to make a compelling impact during a short period of time to achieve communication goals. In contrast, print media are static, and the message endures.