TV Advertising’s Dirty Little Secrets Revealed

TV Advertising’s Dirty Little Secrets Revealed

TV Advertising Dirty Little Secrets Revealed

photo credit: Roel Wijnants via photopin cc

By a show of hands, how many of you watch TV? Ok, now how many of you watch live TV, or shows as they’re being broadcast? Really? Only a handful of you? That’s not surprising as more and more households are starting to use DVRs to record shows with almost half of TV-owning households having a DVR installed. This is according to Nielsen Media Research.

The DVR is one dirty little secret the TV networks want you to ignore. Learn more about the DVR and other dirty little TV Advertising secrets by reading on.

The Cursed DVR

While DVRs are fantastic for letting people time shift their viewing habits, they’re also able to skip commercials. I know, shocking! The networks are doing and saying everything in their power to get you to continue to advertise, but the DVR watching public is showing that TV advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be. The networks argue that even people who record shows, still watch the commercials. I’m sure that some people still do, but that number is shrinking.

Dirty Little Secret: DVRs are making it easy to skip commercials and your message.

Cable TV Advertising Packages

Cable networks are also notorious for getting you to advertise on a variety of networks. A business I know recently signed up for a cable TV advertising promotion, where they got 500 30 second spots per month, spread across 10 different networks. So that breaks down to roughly 50 spots per network, per month or about 1.667 spots per day. When you consider the number of networks that are available, the fact that most run 24 hours worth of programming, the chances are very good that your spot won’t be seen.

Now if they offered 500 spots on two networks, you might get my attention as that’s a little more than 8 spots per day. But when you refer to Dirty Little Secret number one above, even then I might be dissuaded.

Dirty Little Secret: Cable networks will try to sell you a good deal, but if you’re not in specific day parts, with high frequency, you need to save your money.

Live TV Offers the Best ROI

If you’re absolutely dead set on advertising on TV, and money is no object, LIVE programming is where to advertise. Live programming includes newscasts and sporting events. These types of programs are far less likely to be recorded as they tend to have an immediacy to them and they typically have higher viewerships than other shows. And would you believe that the networks actually know this? Yes, you’ll be paying a heavy premium to advertise during these types of broadcasts, but you’ll have a better opportunity of reaching potential customers as more of them watch the programming live without time shifting.

Dirty Little Secret: Live programming is expensive, but will give you a better opportunity for an ROI as the majority of viewers will be engaged and watching the show live as opposed to recording it.

Markets are Fragmented

In any given geographic area, there may be five or more cable TV providers who provide service to your target market. Think about it. You could have Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, etc. all providing service to one degree or another to your targeted area. Advertising on one provider may not give you the coverage you’d expect, especially if it’s on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the number of households it serves.

If you’re going to advertise on cable TV, you’d have to spend some money on each provider for the same networks. Unless you’re a national advertiser, advertising directly with the network, you’re not going to be able to have your commercial on each provider without paying for the privilege. For example, if you went to HGTV directly and advertised with them, your spot would appear on each provider. Otherwise, if you want to be on HGTV in the locally allotted time slots, you’d have to go through each provider independently.

Dirty Little Secret: Unless you’re a national advertiser, you’ll have to pay each individual cable provider to have your ad appear on the same network. Each provider is allotted a certain number of “local” ads per hour, which is where your ad will appear.


To recap, I discussed four dirty little TV Advertising secrets that you need to be aware of if you’re even remotely considering advertising on TV.

  • DVRs are increasing in use and more and more commercials are being skipped as a result.
  • Cable TV Network Advertising Bundles aren’t what they appear. They may seem like good value, but they’re usually not as few people will see your message.
  • Invest in LIVE TV. Local and national newscasts and live sporting events cost a heavy premium, but reach the most engaged viewers without having to be worried about the dreaded DVR.
  • Unless you advertise with the network nationally, you’ll have to pay each cable provider individually in order to maximize your reach in your market.

If you choose to advertise on TV, at least now you’ll be a little more prepared and have a better understanding of what you’re up against. You have to do what’s best for your business and TV can still be an effective medium for your message. But you have to invest the money into having your ad run frequently in order to see any value.

Any dirty little secrets you want to share? Want to discuss these? Hit up the comments below!

Disclosure of Material Connection

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest commission from the sale. These links help support the maintenance of this website.

Please be advised that I only recommend products or services that I have used or tried personally and believe will add value to my readers' lives. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”