Tag Archives: Cable vs broadcast

Broadcast vs. Cable TV Advertising

TVs Fightig

One marketing platform that often comes up in discussions is the idea of advertising on television. Rewind a few decades, and running a TV commercial was seen as the holy grail of advertising. If you look at events like the Super Bowl today (and the ad spend it commands), it’s easy to see that TV is still a powerful platform. However, the landscape has changed a lot, with both broadcast and cable TV as options, which is best? Let’s take a closer look.

Why Advertise On Television?
At first glance, many people are quick to say that television advertising is either dying or completely dead. What’s more accurate to say, though, is that it’s in a time of transition. With the advent of the DVR, many people choose to skip ads they may have otherwise watched. Also, the growing popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and newer options like Disney+ means that more people, particularly younger demographics, are more likely to avoid watching cable or broadcast TV altogether, meaning they’ll miss out on those ads. So, while TV may not be the dominant ad platform it was in the past, it still has its uses.

Specific Demographics:
We mentioned how younger audiences are favoring streaming platforms. However, that doesn’t apply to everyone. Older demographics may still prefer TV, which means products and services marketed to them will do well on the platform. 

Message Penetration: 
Many unfavorable takes on TV advertising compare it to digital advertising. While some comparison points are valid, a lot of digital ads are essentially disrupting people from enjoying the content they’re reading or viewing. Digital ads are delivered so quickly they often don’t resonate with consmers. With TV, people are generally watching it at a state of rest; this makes it easier for your message to sink in.

Legitimacy: 
The fact is that advertising on TV, even if it’s a bit less lucrative now, is still seen as a key way to show that your company has “arrived.” Couple your commercial spot with the right messaging and this space can significantly enhance your brand perception and drive engagement.

Creative Freedom: 
For the most part, with a digital ad, you can only do so much in terms of presentation before your audience choices to lose interest or click to discover more. Commercials allow for more time to present your offering, which can help tip a consumer towards your brand.


The Benefits of Choosing Broadcast TV
To understand the benefits of broadcast TV, it’s important first to discuss the nature of TV distribution and where a given ad will show. 

Broadcast TV generally entails major channels, like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Each of these channels, on top of its broadcast programming, will also generally have local affiliates for a given designated market area. 

Cable television distribution is quite different. Generally, ads are sold in smaller geographic areas known as “zones.” Whether or not you see that as a positive or negative is something we’ll discuss with cable, but for now, let’s focus on broadcast TV advertising benefits.

Larger Geographical Reach: 
Ultimately, in terms of faces put in front of your ads, broadcast TV will give you greater bang for your buck. Also, buying broadcast ad space means that you’ll be able to have customers see your ad no matter what distribution path they choose, such as satellite, broadcast, or cable.

Audience Viewing: 
Broadcast TV daytime programming, which is significantly less expensive for advertising than primetime, generally puts together content that skews towards older, female audiences. If this is your target demographic, it’s a great way to reach a wide span of potential clients. Also, advertising during local news is a great way to appeal to a broader demographic at a fraction of primetime costs.

Better Insulated Against Digital: 
The idea of people “cutting the cord” has grown more popular as digital streaming platforms and cable packages begin to compete. However, broadcast TV generally performs a lot better. Even people who opt to stream broadcast programming on their computer can still see your ads.

The Benefits of Choosing Cable
As mentioned before, when buying cable advertising, you’re investing in zones rather than broad areas of a region. An approach like this leads to perhaps the most important aspect of buying cable, audience narrowing. 

Microtargeting: 
As an example of cable ads for a specific audience, small businesses like dentists’ offices or automotive repair services generally don’t draw in an audience from more than 20 minutes away. As a result, broadcast TV ads would put you in front of many customers that would never end up converting. Narrowing your geographic area, which cable can do for you, puts your ads in front of an audience that is close and saves you money, which provides a better ROI.

Interest Targeting: 
Most cable channels provide content around a specific interest, like Food Network for cooking or HGTV for home improvement. If your business markets to that niche, you have a built-in ready audience for your product or service.

OTT Advertising: 
You may be concerned about reaching younger demographics that favor streaming over conventional cable. You can get around this with OTT (over the top) advertising. These ads generally cost less than conventional ads and can be viewed through tablets, phones, computers, and connected TVs (CTVs).

You may be a bit surprised that we haven’t talked about cost yet. The main reason for this is that out of cable and broadcast TV, there isn’t a single one that is always going to be more or less expensive than the other. The real cost drivers in terms of TV advertising take into account universal factors like:

  • The channel the ad will run in
  • The program the ad will be run alongside
  • The duration of the ad
  • The amount of area coverage for the ad
  • Production costs for the ad

The less particular you are with placement also means that you can find cheap and expensive options both on cable and broadcast television. For example, programs like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, and Olympics, which have massive appeal and reach, are some of the most expensive ad spaces available, and they are on broadcast TV. However, shows like The Walking Dead that are massive cable draws also are costly. So, the easiest way to think of it is like this:

  • Broadcast: Higher ceiling, more expensive on average
  • Cable: Lower floor, but could still be costly for prime ad space

Watching TV

Along with this, if you have a high production budget or want a nationwide reach for your ad, it will likely cost more to produce the spot no matter what platform it’s on. Some ways to save when buying advertising space is committing to a longer advertising run. Of course, you need to have enough material to keep your commercials fresh and feel confident that that decision will put you in front of the right audience. 

Ultimately, the decision to advertise on cable tv or broadcast tv comes down to where your audience is and your budget. However, whichever ad platform fits you best, you want to make sure you have strong advertising content to get the most potential for a return on your investment. If you are looking for more options in this area, be sure to partner with a skilled banding, advertising, and marketing agency, like Glint Advertising. By taking a look at your current goals and marketing plans, we can help you find the best vehicle for your advertising content.