How do I Advertise on TV?

14 mins read

TV advertising remains one of the best ways to reach consumers in the U.K. According to new data from the research firm Nielsen, consumers spend an average of 3 hours and 43 minutes per day watching television. Despite recent advertising trends on social media and the rise in digital advertising and on demand services, traditional tv advertising still proves to be the most effective advertising medium to market goods and services. The number of people watching TV on mobile devices and smart TVs has actually grown steadily over the last 10 years and so advertisers still regard traditional TV advertising as the most effective and trusted medium for reaching customers, especially among younger audiences. TV adverts reach the largest possible audience for an ad spend, brands should seriously consider investing in a TV advertising campaign now to capture audiences in the post pandemic era.

Creating TV commercials involves building an advertising strategy, developing ad creative (copy, scripts, vision boards, concepts etc), and employing a TV advertising agency. Once produced, you need to secure advertising slots at the right time and on the best networks for airing your commercial. Here is a comprehensive guide to advertise on tv.

Creating your Advertisement

A great idea is the foundation of a memorable TV advert. Effective TV adverts require good planning to create a strong concept, script and a powerful visual style. To create a tv advert for your business you must understand the viewing habits of specific audiences and create a TV advert that resonates with that audience. There are many different types of tv advertising, including direct response tv commercials which usually air for fifteen to thirty seconds, longer infomercials which can last between one and two minutes and product placement and sponsorships in which a product is displayed or used in a shot.

TV advertising might seem like a straight forward process, but it requires planning and preparation in order to be most effective. Here are the key steps involved in the production process of a TV advert campaign.

Find Your Audience

Before TV advertising production can begin, be sure to understand your demographic. Start by determining which types of TV shows your target audience watches. Request a TV advertising media kit from a media agency to see which shows and times will fit your needs. A TV advertising media kit will provide details about a prospective advertisers target market and includes contact details and audience demographics for a newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, or online medium. With the information gathered targeted advertising can now be crafted around specific audiences and will help you to reach the right customers at the right time and generate more money.

Brainstorm Ad Creative

To create a TV commercial, you must build your ad creative, its story and message. Developing ad creative includes copywriting, storyboarding, and concept development. Brainstorm ideas with a team to create a big idea and message to hook an audience in to your product and call to action. Strategize a creative route to market your campaign effectively and research whether TV advertising is really the best advertising medium for your business. Discuss your product or service and talk about how it can help the target demographic over come typical problems they might find in everyday life. Find creative ways to incorporate brand advertising and the company logo.

Things to think about include, the intention behind a TV advertising campaign, is the marketing message on brand and in keeping with company standards. Can your marketing message be conveyed with a story or is it best to stick to facts? Discuss the length of the TV advert and whether it will engage the interest of the target audience. A direct response TV ad seeks to compel the TV viewers to the call to action, the purchase of goods and services on offer.

A Compelling Storyline

You need to decide on an overall story for your television commercial, its premise, and which types of emotions or actions you’d like it to provoke in viewers. Use a storyboard to conceptualise the overall story for your commercial, its premise, and which types of emotions or actions you’d like it to provoke in viewers. Keep it direct and straightforward and use your creative routes to structure it around a core problem, the solutions your brand can provide and the call to action heard by the viewer.

Writing a Script

A television commercial is produced just like a movie or television program, a strong script has to be written and perfected prior to production. Use emotive language where possible to hook the viewer into the TV ad and help them to emotionally relate to what is happening on screen. Help the viewer to understand why and how they should act upon your call to action. When writing a script, have a clear conception about the purpose and intention of the advertisement. It can be delegated to a creative team or done yourself to help stay under budget. Do the proper research and keep your message concise and on target for your core demographic.  Make sure to include all of the necessary information such as prices and contact information for the company. Finally, read the lines out loud to see if it flows logically and will connect with an audience.

Scenes and shots

A TV advertising script is much like a script for a play. It should include details of the scenes and shots taking place. Use the script in conjunction with the story board to create the shots you want.

Consider the Visual Elements

Images and animations can help tell the story better than text alone. They also allow TV viewers a chance to empathise with the characters on screen. use your knowledge of your target demographic to tailor your artistic choices, for example using cartoons to advertise to children or a brief animation to highlight your brand logo. Every brand should have an existing video asset library to aid in the creation of TV ads.

Music and sound effects

TV adverts should always have sound. Music adds emotional context to what people view on screen and a catchy jingle can make an advertisement memorable. Be sure that the music complements the script and doesn’t distract attention away from can distract viewers from the product or service. Sound effects can be used to great effect to create a mood or embellish key messages, for example the sound of a mouse click when displaying a web address. Some ads use popular music in advertisements to tie the theme of an ad to a particular emotion, for example a rock and roll track might be used to evoke a sense of rebellion or nostalgia for those trying to recapture their youth. Other ads modify songs to better serve their purpose. An example of this is ‘Go Compare’s’ use of the war time song ‘Over There’. The lyrics were completely changed to create a humorous stylistic way to convey a lightly hearted approach to car insurance comparison websites.

Use a Memorable Tagline or Jingle

Television commercials often use short memorable catchphrases and musical ditties to help people recall a brand and a service. Taglines should be under ten words and employ a rhyme if possible. Try to neatly summarise the produce or service you advertise and stylistically link it with your brand. Using humour can help audiences to connect to it. uses a humorous jingle that breaks the mould and gets stuck in the viewers head. The bizarre imagery of a pig on the moon combined with a memorable jingle effectively contrasts with the service that they offer. The audience remembers that they offer personalised greetings cards despite that are seemingly unrelated words. When done right a jingle can stay in the minds of viewers long after a tv campaign has run its course and some even ascend to become etched into pop-culture.

Finally, tv advertising scripts must follow all the guidelines set forth by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Consult with your agency or production company to find out more.

Determine Your Tv advertising Production Method

There are three main creative routes to get your tv advertisement produced: make it yourself, working with a broadcast or TV station, or working with a tv advertising agency. Each option has its own pros and cons, so consider carefully on deciding which best suits your needs and budget requirements.


Creating a TV commercial on a strict budget may mean that you have to do it yourself. This offers businesses with TV advertising production experience a way to save on expenditure. Costs involved include the hiring of audio and visual recording equipment, a production company and actors to perform for your advertisement or provide voice over lines. Some D.I.Y. TV ads have attained cult status but it may simply be cheaper and simpler for many small businesses to choose another option.

Direct to a broadcast or cable company

Using a broadcast or cable company is the most direct way promote tv advertising to the wider public. Broadcast companies will have access to a professional production company and expenses can be worked into the overall cost of purchasing  advertising time on their channels for long term campaigns. This can help a small business on a tight budget. Buying directly from the cable network can cost less money, but you’ll have fewer options over time slots.

Hire a agency

Hiring a TV advertising agency to help you create your television ads is the typical choice for a small business. A media company can provide many different services including creative development, media planning, production process, and delivery. Use examples of previous TV adverts they have aired to assess the standard quality you can expect compared to the pricing they offer

Most businesses choose to hire an advertising agency because they ensure their ads are designed and produced professionally and the national TV advertising campaign can be tailored strategically to maximise impact for the cost. TV advertising agencies will take care of the ad creative for you. Meet to discuss your company, what it sells, who you sell to and what you want to get from a TV campaign. They typically will reply with various options for you to pick from when designing your ad creative..

Ways to Create High-Performing TV Ads

Creating High-Performing TV Ads

A small business needs to make TV ads that leaves a strong impression. Great TV ads have a strong brand message and purpose and will immediately resonate with viewers and compel them to your product or service. Be creative and original when describing your product so that the audience can understand what it is and what it does. Here are some of the ways in which you can distinguish your TV advert from other advertisers in the same market.

Break the Pattern

Breaking the pattern is a great way to stand out in the crowded tv advertising market and this strategy works well for any type of product or service. Modern society has an ever-shrinking attention span, which makes it difficult to get people to notice ads unless they’re able to break the pattern and stand out from the competition. Products such as insurance which can be considered boring and uninteresting use sudden contrasting pivots in a commercial to break the preconceived ideas held by an audience and bring it to life. Hastings Direct sells insurance on TV by pivoting their normal everyday product against their fun and lively mascot. Advertisers are stretching further and exploiting viral trends to appeal and market to an internet savvy audience. In short the better and stronger this pivot, the better it breaks the pre conceived notions about standard products, such as Insurance, the more it catches the attention of an audience.

Don’t Be Boring

Don’t be boring – keep things fresh and interesting. Ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy the tv commercial commercial and find the product interesting. Find ways to incorporate humour into your ads to bring levity to otherwise standard services and is appropriate to the audience you are selling to. Creativity gets stifled when organisations get stuck into a bureaucratic process debating over the details. Remember, keep it interesting, entertaining and on target for the demographic you are marketing to.

Focus on the First Three Seconds

The first three seconds are the most important part of any TV ad. Modern viewers are constantly exposed to advertising and have become numb to repetitious storylines and similar messages. Most audiences automatically disengage after the first three seconds when TV advertisements fail to peak their interest. Grab the viewers attention immediately and then you can discuss how to hold their attention for the rest of the advertisement spot.

Use Celebrities or Influencers

Bringing in an influencer on your advertisement who has credibility or applicability towards your industry will establish a memorable visual link to your product or service. Audiences respond when a celebrity or well known influencer approves of the product or service that they consider purchasing. Use influencers who are relevant to your audience or are in a similar age range to maximise impact and relatability.

Building Brand Awareness

Businesses focusing on brand advertising should work towards building awareness rather than sales generated. Original statements must stand out from the competition to make an impression on modern viewers. Younger audiences have grown up with Facebook and twitter and live lives centred around the internet. These audiences have developed a much stronger direct response to images more than facts and statements so take in mind your brand logo and how it is incorporated into the advertisement. Alternate sources of media like YouTube can be used as inspiration for tailoring your brand imagery around an internet centric audience. A television ad spot isn’t best suited to capture an entire brand so instead focus on a specific aspect of the brand business and a specific audience to market to.

Be Authentic

It’s important to create a genuine feeling around your brand or service. People want to buy from brands they like and trust so communicating a sense of authenticity and quality is essential. Study your existing customer base and see how they regard and relate your product or service and build upon this to that similar minded customers will be receptive to your tv ad.

Try Product Placement

Product placement is an effective way to advertise a brand or company and cut back on a tv advertising spend. Businesses pay money to insert their logo or products into popular TV shows, films, games and YouTube channels. Product placement done right will not interrupt the viewer from engaging with the show and can actually make the show seem more modern and relatable to real life. Use subtlety as obvious product placement can ruin the flow onscreen and will not be well received by the audience. Sponsorships are another means to advertise on TV where companies pay to put their name where it can be seen on television broadcasts such as on and around football pitches and covered over race cars.

Tie to Social Media Campaign

In the modern era major media companies are combining their efforts across all platforms to keep advertisers happy and are always looking for new ways to connect with younger audiences and reach them through streaming services on their mobile devices. Tie your TV adverts to existing social media campaigns to cross-market and communicate to viewers that they can reach out to brands through multiple channels. Cross promote your brand to acknowledge audiences looking on multiple platforms. Use a creative route to tie between the TV ad spot and the social media campaign to increase brand awareness and engagement

Use a Good Voice Over

A good voiceover should reflect the personality of your company and clearly convey the message of your ad. Voice is amongst the strongest influences when it comes to creating an emotional response in the mind. When it comes to TV advertising, the right voice can make a good script into a great TV ad. Think about what the personality of the brand is, should the voiceover be authoritative or more comedic in tone and what voice best represents that. Consider how that voice will carry a TV advert and represent the brand to steer the narrative and create the desired impression.

Communicate One Message Only

A picture says a thousand words, but there’s no reason to use an image unless it conveys exactly what you want to communicate. Unlike radio advertising, television is primarily a visual medium and the mistake businesses make when creating television commercials tends to expressing too many concepts in one TV ad slot. Customers only have room and time for a single key message that encapsulates your product or service and will likely disregard over complicated spiels of information.

Choose Where to Advertise

On choosing where to place your TV advertising campaign there are typically two main options, broadcast television or cable. Broadcast T V reach a much large number of people across all demographics, whereas cable networks target a smaller segment of the population with specific interests and hobbies. Cable channels often specialize in particular topics, such as sports, movies, or news. Consider what networks and TV shows appeal to your target audience to guide your decision where to place your advertising campaign. There may be hundreds of stations to choose from, but make sure they appeal to your target demographic. You can use information about which people watch certain channels, such as whether they’re interested in history shows or sports channels and their average age, interests and behaviour to determine whether a channel is suitable for your campaign. Broadcast TV typically reaches a much larger audience because these TV stations, such as ITV and Channel 4, and not blocked behind paid subscriptions. As such it is harder to target a specific audience but it is a good means to promote a brand to the general public at large. Alternatively, brands selling niche products can use an advertising channel like QVC to market their goods at extremely affordable prices.

Buying Television Ad Spots

Television advertising has a a lot of competition in the marketplace. Prices for buying tv ads can range from as little as £5 for an off peak time on a cable channel up to as much as £30,000 for a peak time slot on ITV. Cable offers rotator time slots, a tv ad is put on rotation and can appear at any time during an advertising time threshold. Broadcast television typically can offer more  specific air times and you can choose which shows you want your ad to run alongside. TV stations offer price thresholds to place ads for four main times of the day; breakfast, daytime, peak time and night time.

Breakfast TV airs from 6am to 9am. The typical price ranges for placing an ad are between £500 – £2500 on broadcast TV and £10 – £100 on cable. Breakfast TV is typically the cheapest time to purchase advertising slots. The audience consists of early morning commuters watching TV as they start their day. Early morning TV commercials typically hope to capture a professional audience or children as they depart on the school run.

Daytime TV airs from 9am – 5pm and ad prices typically cost  between £750 – £4600 on broadcast TV and £20 – £200 on cable. Daytime advertising is typically slightly more expensive and viewers usually consist of the elderly and the unemployed.

Peak time TV airs from 5pm to 11pm. To place a tv advert you can expect to pay between £2000 – £35000 on broadcast TV and £20 – £1200 on a cable channel. Advertising during prime time viewing is the most expensive option but has by far the largest viewing numbers. Consider this decision for a large budget, nationwide tv advertising campaign, that you want to appeal to the widest demographic.

Night time TV airs from 11pm – 6am and prices ranges £500 – £4600 to place tv ads on broadcast tv and between £5 – £80 on a cable channel. Advertising on night TV offers comparable to rates to breakfast TV and can be considered amongst the cheapest option. Late night TV viewership typically consists of young adults aged between 18 – 40.

Make sure you decide which choices suits your advertising campaign best before buying. Here are the pros and cons of both Broadcast TV and cable TV to help you decide.

Broadcast TV


  • Much Larger Audience
  • Wider Demographic
  • You can advertise on tv at specific air times to correspond with specific shows


  • Much more expensiveLess
  • targeted demographic

Digital TV


  • Targeted demographic
  • Cheaper ad slots means you can purchase more advertising time


  • Smaller audience
  • You wont know exactly when your ad will air

How to Buy Television Advertising On A Budget

Television advertising is often ignored by smaller businesses because they feel that it is too costly and may think that only larger corporations can afford to advertise on it. If you’re patient, negotiate well, and keep an open mind, you can buy TV advertising on a low cost budget. To make tv advertising work for you, it’s important to maximise the return of investment (ROI) for your ad spend. A successful advertising campaign requires making correct decisions on the right time and the right price to air a tv advert. When budgeting for tv advertising costs consider factors including the frequency a tv advert should be aired, the number of people who watch the ad each time it runs, and the level of interest that the tv ad generates.

The rise in digital television and the increase in the number of channels and shows has made television an effective advertising platform for even small businesses. Production for a 30 second ad can cost anything from £2000 and up so make sure to compare the best prices offered by advertising agencies against the cost of producing an ad in house. TV is an attractive way of using an ad budget because it reaches a large audience and allows them to see your product or service and choosing to advertise on TV typically returns £1.79 on every £1 spent when done right. Negotiate added value when dealing with advertising agencies or broadcast stations, the cost of production can be rolled into the overall cost of ad time especially if you intend to run a lengthy ad campaign.

Be flexible about scheduling and use the cheap rates for off peak advertising to your advantage. Co-op advertising funds can offer a substantial boon to your advertising budget if you sell products manufactured by companies that seek to advertise. Make sure to investigate the qualifying requirements to access these funds.

Ask if the television station has an internet presence and find a way to get your brand across different platforms. Many advertisers employ second screen marketing to save on air time. The aim of this is to draw viewers onto a website on their phone or tablet so that the whole brand including all of its products and services can be displayed to them alongside all the information that they require, not just the snippets presented in a fifteen or thirty second ad.

Ad rates change every quarter and often prices rise and fall throughout the season depending on what is being shown on TV. The TV advertising cost can rise significantly as demand for advertising space increases around popular broadcasts like the football world cup or the super bowl in the USA. Identify the days when your ad will have the greatest impact for example some businesses, like furniture retailers, target their ads primarily on weekends to maximise their impact on their core demographic. Similarly some companies run ads depending on the season such as travel agents advertising in summer to appeal to holiday goers, or toy manufacturers advertising in winter to appeal to those buying presents for Christmas.

Bottom Line

Television advertising is still very important for businesses looking to reach a mass market and there are many different ways to market your brand to consumers through television advertising. Advertising on television can be expensive when accounting for both production cost and purchasing advertising slots. Small businesses can find advertising on TV daunting. However, with the correct planning and strategy the tv advertising cost can be reduced alongside maximising your ROI for your ad dollars (or pounds). Once you place your TV advert be sure to monitor its performance so you will have information to work from for the next campaign.

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