The Average Cost of Advertising

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The concept of the average cost of advertising is too vague to discuss with any effectiveness. Advertising costs vary greatly across all media types and are affected by a number of other factors, including size of audience, time or space for ads, use of colour in print, and visual effects.

You can examine conventional costs in some common media to get a sense of whether you can generally afford an advertising format.


Television is routinely recognised as the most expensive advertising medium in terms of total expenditures. Costs include production and purchase of media space. While small businesses can sometimes produce and place low-budget commercials for a few thousand dollars, the national average cost for a 30-second spot is £227,500 as of 2011, according to the Gaebler website. This average is brought up by national campaigns from larger companies that are placed on network programs.


Radio advertising costs vary significantly by size of market, station, and time frame of placement. Radio advertising offers benefits that include a relatively high reach, high targetability, and a low cost relative to TV. Production of radio commercials is much less expensive than television and test placement for a week or shorter period of time is more affordable. The Strategic Media website indicates that you can often run one ad for under £65 and test your ad for a week on a few stations for around £1,625. This makes radio appealing as an option for local businesses. Though national companies make use of syndicated programs and national networks, which is more expensive.


Local businesses often use local newspapers as a way to connect with a local audience. However, newspapers with a significant readership can get expensive if you want to get noticed or run your ad for multiple days. Gaebler states that "a full-page black and white ad in the Times will run you £106,795." This is a significant investment in print advertising, but it might make sense for organisations reaching out to a targeted audience found within the readership.


Magazine advertising rates range from a few hundred dollars for local access magazines to thousands of dollars for larger magazines with national distribution. Magazines are not as expensive as television ads in terms of total expenditure, but the cost per contact is often high. This is offset by a highly targeted audience as many magazines serve niche audiences interested in the magazine's topic. Gaebler offers an example cost of £10,718 for a full-page black-and-white ad in "Variety" magazine. The cost is higher for colour. The site also suggests that new users of magazine ads consider trying a smaller, less-expensive ad to see if the medium is a good fit for the audience.


Internet advertising is quite diverse and includes banner ads, pop-up ads, text ads, and more recently, streaming video and audio ads. Users of Internet advertisers are often trying to drive traffic to their own website. Costs vary greatly depending on size or type of the ad, and the size of the audience the website can deliver. According to the Web Marketing Consulting Company's website, you might pay around £20 per month for a basic banner ad on a site with moderate traffic. You could pay £195 or more for a similar ad for a month on a higher traffic site. However, the amount of exposure and traffic you gain on the larger site is likely increased significantly.