How much does advertising cost?

Jupiterimages/ Images

The cost of advertising depends on the medium, production costs and how many people the ad reaches. It can range from free for some classified newspaper ads to millions of dollars for national TV time. However, if the advertiser is prepared to shop around, even TV can be affordable.

Discount Print Advertising

The cost of advertising in newspapers largely depends on the ad's placement and size as well as the paper's circulation. As of 2009, a full-page, colour ad in the nationally distributed "USA Today" costs £97,500 (circulation: 6.2 million) while a comparable ad in a local paper can cost between £6,500 and £16,250. Small town papers charge far less, depending on circulation. Some classified ads in newspapers and all ads in locally distributed, classified ad publications, like "The Pennysaver," are free.

Radio Ad Production

It is best to break down the costs into two categories -- creative/ad strategy and media buying. Creative development includes copywriting (script), and the production of the commercial or spot, including voice talent; advertisers who do their own voice work run the risk of the ad sounding unprofessional. As of 2011, one spot should cost around £552 to £585 to produce. Unless the spot has unusually complex production values, it should come in at £650 or less. Advertisers often produce two different spots to test-market the different approaches contained in each.

Radio Media Buying

Initial testing will cost about £3,900 for the first week and from £1,950 to £3,250 for each of the remaining three weeks. After testing it is time to "roll out" the best-performing spot for the beginning of the official campaign. The cost of radio media buys varies, however, the 2010 rate for playing a 60-second spot in a major market, like the Dallas/Fort Worth area, is about £232.

Television Ad Production

Though the production of an average, 30-second national ad is about £227,500, broadcast-quality commercials can be produced for far less -- as little as £650 -- by freelance producers and independent production houses. Beware the local TV station offering to produce ads for local businesses in exchange for buying time on their stations. The quality of these ads is often quite low. It's better to shop around for competitively priced professionals.

Television Media Buy

The cost of national commercial time varies, depending on ratings and day part the ad is played. However, as of 2009, 30 seconds of national television time can cost £65,000 to more than £1.3 million (Super Bowl). Smaller businesses usually find that local and regional advertising is better suited to their budgets. A 30-second buy in a medium-sized market can cost as little as £65 -- even lower for less-viewed day parts.


If a business chooses to advertise through its own website, the initial cost of creating the site should run from £4,550 to £6,500 (based on 2011 prices for a 25- to 50- page site with one-year hosting). The cost of advertising a business on another website depends on the volume of traffic at the site. A moderately high-traffic site charging £32 per month may only generate a few hundred visits to the advertiser's site per month. However, a site that charges £195 could generate 30,000 visits.