Advantages & disadvantages of TV advertising

Updated April 17, 2017

Since its rise to popularity in the 1950s, television has remained one of the most sought-after forms of advertising. No other advertising medium has its ability to connect with the audience and reach as many people as TV. But with its strengths come its weaknesses: It is an expensive medium, in a congested market—with many advertisers vying for the same spots. Even with its disadvantages, TV remains one of the more effective ways to get the word out about your product.

Communication of the Brand

One of the greatest advantages of TV advertising is that marketers can tell the story of the brand with moving images and sound, which is something that can’t be done with print or radio. A television spot can integrate brand imagery, identifiable spokespeople and celebrities, and popular songs. Marketers can create an advertisement that their target customer is more likely to recall.

Reach and Audience Selection

Depending on the media buy, TV can reach a large domestic audience or a targeted local or cable audience. It is the best advertising medium to reach a large-scale audience, with no other media sharing its ability to make widespread impressions. On the other hand, it can be targeted. With broadcast and cable TV, marketers select spots that coincide with programs that appeal to the lifestyle of their demographic. Additionally, they choose time slots where their customers are most likely to be watching and create a mix of less expensive TV spot buys that is most effective in reaching them.

Connection with Audience

With TV, advertisers reach their audience at a time when it is easiest to connect with them—their leisure time. It is less likely that there are other forms of distraction, including work and surfing the Internet, to dilute the message or diffuse their audience’s concentration. Thus, the customer is more receptive to the marketing message. Furthermore, unlike Internet advertising, TV gives a more predictable stream of when the audience is viewing the ad, and quantitative reports are available on when and if it was watched.

Short Time Frame

Most TV spots are viewed in 30-second increments and are clustered with other advertisements. This means that marketers have a short amount of time to tell their story and make their brand stand out among the other commercials. With all of the other advertisements out there, if a marketer buys only a couple of spots, there is a good chance that the message will get swallowed up by other advertisers—or worse, forgotten by the audience. Therefore, a full-blown campaign of many spots over a long period of time is necessary to make an impact and to ensure that the audience recalls the brand.

Expensive to Produce and Distribute

Casting actors, finding a location, filming, editing and producing make a TV commercial one of the most expensive forms of advertisements to produce. On top of this, marketers also have to buy the actual TV spots where they want to run their ads. The cost of TV spots depends on the time slot. Prime time slots are more expensive than any other times. Desirable spots, such as major sporting events, have the most reach, are very competitive to acquire and thus very expensive.

Viewer’s Sentiment

Public sentiments toward TV ads fluctuate from positive to negative. Marketers have got more creative with their advertisements, some even creating mini-movies, to make viewing a commercial desirable. All of this is an attempt to combat the negative view people have of ads. Additionally, with recent trends toward digital recorded TV, people can watch their programs without including the commercials, making it even more difficult to reach them.

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About the Author

B. Maté has been reporting on creative industries since 2007—covering everything from Fashion Week to the latest artist to wow the Parisian art scene. Her experience stems from a marketing background, with more than 12 years of experience consulting fashion-forward entrepreneurs.