What Do TV Commercials Cost?

The simple answer to the question, "what does a TV commercial cost?" is that it varies widely. This is good news. It means that businesses of just about any size can afford a TV commercial production, even if your budget is in the low thousands.

When you look for a TV ad producer, look for the best bang for your buck. That "right price" depends a lot on what your business actually needs to succeed in the marketplace, and what is affordable for you. Our experienced production team makes a great-looking ad, but we are conscious of budget, too. To see what we mean, read on.

The Video Production Industry

The video production industry is composed of numerous producers, studios, and crafts like cinematography, post-production, sound studios, and special effects houses. For some businesses, these services can be complex, hard to understand, or too expensive. There are a few things to keep in mind when getting a television commercial made for your business.

The Message Matters as Much as the Budget:

Your TV commercial should be crafted to attract customers, and tell them how to buy from you - without coming across as cheesy. This is where professional TV commercial producers can make your media dollars count.

The Rock-bottom Problem:

When a business owner is new to TV advertising or online video, it's easy to fall into making a decision based only on price. Studies of consumer behavior have shown that if a customer is not sure of the benefits of one product over another, they tend to use price as the deciding factor. The price-based choice will likely be disappointing in quality and style. When a business owner chooses a TV commercial produciton by price only, the results can be disappointing, and the TV ad is less effective because it won't impress their customers, either.

What makes a Cheap TV Spots production cheap is that it's a fully custom crafted TV commercial that's also affordable.

DIY Dilemma:

For everything from home repair to legal documents, the trend is toward making just about any service into a do-it-yourself job, in the name of saving money. Often, we find ourselves calling the experts afterward, when the DIY solution didn't work, or was just too hard to do.

Granted, some people have a knack for video. In our many years of helping advertisers, we've seen time and again that a do-it-yourself TV ad can be a disaster - the advertiser has tried to write their own ad script, come up with their own images, and used friends and family as videographers, editors, narrators or actors. The TV ad looks hokey, and it doesn't meet broadcast specifications. (We can help you remake your homemade ad, by the way.)

TV production, especially TV ad production, takes time, skill, and experience, as well as the ability to pull together all the pieces and people required to do the job right. TV producers are familiar with the best ways to find and combine the diverse talents and audio/visual elements that comprise a TV commercial.

When Their Price is a Bad Sign:

You'll see offers for a 30-second TV ad for as low as $200. Be cautious. To keep costs down, the ad is just a template or a prepackaged style - and you have no guarantee the end product will be technically TV-ready or effective. Some of these companies limit you in how and where you can play the video - effectively making it only a limited-use web video, and useless for a TV campaign.

Outsourced - Your ad could be made outside the U.S. where English is not the native language and culture. Not the best way to make an advertisement for your U.S. based business.

Add-on Costs - You may be pushed to buy add-ons that bring the price way up.

Inexperienced - These days, many video producers are only familiar with the web, and have never worked in the television industry. Like the do-it-yourself web videos described above, those ads will not pass television broadcast standards - and you won't be able to air the ad on TV without some major changes. We've seen it again and again.

For National Brands and Large Corporations:

Big international corporations can spend on average $350,000 to $500,000 for a highly stylized, well filmed, and precisely edited television commercial, which may include famous spokespersons, special effects, or lavish locations. A commercial made for a special occasion like the Super Bowl often requires the advertiser to spend much more, because such ads are intended for an extremely large audience that watches the show in part to see those highly crafted commercials. Some might say that the popular TV ad contests are a cheap way to get a great ad, but in reality, running the contest (planning, promoting, judging) is a labor and cost intensive process, too. For the advertiser, the TV ad contest is an expensive proposition, but it gets people talking, which is the aim of any good campaign.

Don't Be Dazzled into Over-Spending:

Advertising should take about 10-15% of a business's monthly gross revenues.

Let’s say your business grosses $100K/month. Using the 10-15% rule, your monthly advertising budget is $10K to $15K. This includes your online ads, print, video, and TV. If you budget $5K/month for local TV advertising, you can boost the power of TV in your marketing mix.

It’s super-important to figure out what your business can afford, and to get the most for your money. With a budget in hand, you’re ready to choose a media agency to help you make your video and get your message out there.

This makes a television commercial production of $1000 to $2000 quite affordable for most businesses, with the remaining monthly budget going into targeted networks. Going too low-budget can make the advertiser look less respectable or unsophisticated. Splurging on a video production extravaganza could backfire if the ad takes up too much of the advertiser's overall budget, robbing the campaign of funding for TV air time and other media to supplement the campaign.