Connected TV

How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost in 2024?

How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost in 2024?

8 Min Read

TV advertising has typically been thought of as expensive and cumbersome. However, times have since changed, with technology and solutions helping advertisers overcome these common challenges.

This article will explore TV advertising costs, the difference between national and local TV ads, and how these costs are determined.

How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost?

We hate to answer a question with another question, but how long is a piece of string? The costs vary greatly depending on the type of ad you’re producing, and the type of creative that you intend to use.

For example, utilizing existing stop-motion graphics from your existing pool of assets would be more cost-effective than creating a mood board, casting actors, hiring a producer, finding a location shoot, and so on. We break this down in the sections below.

In general, the cost of a TV advertisement can range anywhere from $1,000 or so on the low end, to over $1,000,000 on the high end.

Cost to Produce a TV Commercial

The cost to produce a TV ad consists of three phases:

Pre-Production

The creative and administrative work before filming begins in pre-production. Expect the majority of your budget to be spent here and on the following items:

  • Concept Development: Costs for creative brainstorming, scriptwriting, and storyboard creation.
  • Talent Hiring: Fees for hiring directors, scriptwriters, and any other creative professionals.
  • Casting: Costs associated with auditioning and hiring actors or voice-over artists.
  • Location Scouting: Expenses for finding and securing the right filming locations.
  • Set Design and Construction: Costs for designing, building, or renting sets.
  • Permits and Legal Fees: Expenses for necessary permits, legal clearances, and insurance.

Production

The shoot itself, also known as the video production process, runs as short or as long as needed to get the required footage. Here are a few of the cost drivers during this phase:

  • Equipment Rental: Costs for renting cameras, lighting, sound equipment, and other necessary technology.
  • Crew Salaries: Wages for the director, camera operators, sound engineers, lighting technicians, and other production staff.
  • Talent Fees: Payment for actors, extras, and voice-over artists.
  • Location Fees: Costs for renting the location(s) where the commercial is filmed.
  • Set Operation Costs: Expenses for set management, including electricity, catering, and transportation.
  • Costumes and Props: Costs for purchasing or renting costumes, makeup, and props.

Post-Production

Once the filming is over, there’s still a lot of work to do during post-production. Some of the costs incurred are:

  • Editing: Fees for video editors to assemble and edit the footage.
  • Special Effects and Graphics: Costs for any CGI, visual effects, or graphic design work.
  • Sound Mixing and Music Licensing: Expenses for audio editing, mixing, and licensing music or sound effects.
  • Color Correction: Costs for enhancing and correcting the color of the footage.
  • Distribution Preparation: Expenses for formatting the commercial for different TV standards and CTV platforms. Our guide on CTV ad specs covers this in detail.
  • Marketing and Testing: Costs for focus groups, test screenings, and promotional materials.

Cost to Air a TV Advertisement

So you’ve got your commercial ready. Now what?

TV advertising costs not only include the production itself but also navigating the media minefield to make sure that your dollars spent are getting your commercials on the air, on the right network, and at the right time.

Overall, your broadcast costs vary depending on the following factors:

Region

The more localized the region, the lower the TV ad cost (because the number of impressions aired is lower than if you were to air on national television). While national ad spots tend to be more expensive, they generally yield a better return on investment. Advertisers have a more comprehensive pick of ad lengths to choose from (15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds), while local spots come with more restrictions (limited to 30-second ad spots, for example).

Network

One notable prime-time event that empties advertisers’ pockets in a hurry is the Super Bowl. This year, a 30-second commercial costs an average of $7 million. A clear rule of thumb is the higher the viewership, the higher the price.

Time of Day

Advertisers can place their ads in different time slots throughout the day, including breakfast, daytime, early peak, late peak, and nighttime. However, some times are pricier than others based on TV viewership statistics.

If we were to re-rank these time slots, starting from the most expensive—it would follow this order: late peak (8 pm – 10:30 pm), early peak (5:30 pm – 8 pm), daytime (9:30 am – 5:30 pm), night time (11 pm onwards) and breakfast (6 am – 9:30 am). Late peak TV advertising costs can be more than eight times as expensive as advertising in a daytime slot.

Day of Week

Weekend spots are usually on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, as higher-income viewers are likelier to tune in. However, advertisers shouldn’t discount the weekdays, as CPPs (Cost Per Rating Point) can vary as much as 16 percent from one weekday to another.

Quantity of Expected Viewers

This can be a contentious one, as it’s more important to target the right audience that is aligned with your brand, instead of the biggest audience. However, a general rule is that the larger the audience, the higher the cost.

We also recommend approaching TV advertising through an audience-first, not a network-first approach, to make the most of your investment.

Also, keep in mind that not all demographics watch television (or the types of television) in the same way—linear TV and cable TV have taken a backseat as viewers have been cutting the cord in record numbers (especially during pandemic times) in favor of Connected TV. 

Commercial Length

Most advertisers have their pick of 15-second, 30-second, or 60-second ad spots—the longer the commercial means there’s more airtime (and higher TV ad costs). With that said, in the case of Connected TV advertising, longer commercials are still great at capturing attention.

Frequency

This refers to how often the same commercial would be shown to a viewer. Of course, the more your ad is shown, the more expensive—but this could be counterproductive due to ad fatigue. It’s a savvier investment to favor reach over frequency, since reaching a new viewer (instead of serving the same viewer one ad multiple times) is more valuable, and another chance to connect with a potential customer.

National vs Local TV Costs

Although we explored this to some degree in the sections above, ultimately advertisers need to consider whether it makes sense to advertise locally or nationally. So we’ll break down the unique TV advertising costs for each in the next two sections.

National TV Ad Costs

National TV advertising typically involves higher costs due to the extensive reach and production quality required to appeal to a wide, diverse audience across the country.

  • Broader Audience Reach: Higher costs due to the larger audience size and broader geographic coverage.
  • Premium Time Slots: Higher costs for placing ads during prime time or in popular shows with nationwide appeal.
  • Increased Production Quality: Generally, higher production standards and costs are required to appeal to a national audience.
  • Celebrity Endorsements: Costs can be higher if national-level celebrities are involved in the campaign.
  • Media Buying Rates: Higher rates for purchasing ad space on national networks.

Local TV Ad Costs

Local TV advertising is generally more cost-effective, targeting a specific community or region, with costs varying based on local market size and viewer demographics.

  • Targeted Audience Reach: Lower costs as the ads are tailored to a smaller, localized audience.
  • Local Time Slots: More affordable costs for placing ads in local news, morning shows, or local event broadcasts.
  • Simpler Production: Typically, lower production costs due to less need for high-end effects or widespread appeal.
  • Local Talent and Resources: Costs are often lower for using local talent and resources for production.
  • Negotiable Ad Rates: Potentially more room for negotiation on ad space prices with local TV stations.

Performance TV & Creative-as-a-Subscription™

Unfortunately, not only is TV advertising expensive—it’s not entirely measurable (especially in the case of linear TV and cable TV advertising). However, Connected TV has changed all of that, and made streaming TV advertising more accessible to all.

MNTN Performance TV was engineered to make advertising on TV as turnkey as possible on Connected TV. The platform pairs your brand’s CTV ad creative with any combination of over 80,000+ third-party audiences (or your own first-party data if you prefer) and many top-tier, blue-chip networks known to drive performance.

Advertisers can run retargeting or prospecting ads on television the way they would on any other digital advertising platform, like search or social. MNTN makes TV advertising measurable from start to finish, via a customizable, real-time reporting dashboard, which reports on bottom-line marketing metrics like revenue, ROAS, and conversions. 

The measurement (and cost) aspect is one part of the challenge facing marketers who want to advertise on TV. Producing a regular cadence of TV ad creative is another big hindrance. MNTN’s Creative-as-a-Subscription™ service solves this problem, by removing traditional barriers to TV creative and giving marketers access to quarterly, customized TV creative without investing in anything but their media goals.

TV Advertising Costs: Final Thoughts

Many factors go into TV advertising costs, like timing, frequency, audience, networks, and more. However, not all TV formats are built the same, nor do they have the same ability to truly measure an ad’s impact.

Thankfully, advances in the TV advertising space have welcomed new entrants like Connected TV / OTT advertising into the mix, which employs an audience-first approach to deliver targeted ads that can be tied back to advertisers’ goals and provide a solid return on investment.