The data is in. TV advertising in 2023 is still as powerful as ever, thanks to TV’s unique ability to adapt to the age of the internet and maintain its relevance. If you’re a company planning your next big marketing campaign, definitely consider adding TV ads to it. The power of a good television commercial can’t be overstated, and the proof is in the pudding – it’s no wonder that companies
have continued to invest in their TV ad campaigns.
According to Thinkbox, a UK television commercial marketing body, the year 2021 saw a record-high in TV advertising investment in the UK, reaching a total of £5.46 billion. That was an impressive leap of 24% compared to the previous year! In that same year, Thinkbox reported a 50% increase in new TV advertisers compared to the pre-pandemic average, with a total of 1,286 advertisers popping up on the telly for the first time.
The value of TV advertising remains as it ever was, but you may be wondering: “How much does a TV ad cost?” The answer isn’t as simple as you may like because there are multiple facets to not just creating a good TV commercial but also one that works. Let’s take you through everything that gets counted towards TV advertising costs:
There are two overarching factors that play a role in a TV advertising bill – with both being equally as important as the other. In a nutshell, the total cost of a TV ad campaign is split into production and broadcasting costs. Production generally includes everything involved in the creation of the actual commercial, while broadcasting involves the costs of getting that commercial distributed on the airwaves.
You can’t make a great TV commercial without the production process, and you won’t be able to broadcast it without going through the right steps to get your commercial on air. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.
There isn’t one way to predict how much the cost of TV ad production will be because it can vary wildly based on several factors. TV advert costs when it comes to producing the commercial itself could be anywhere from £35,000 up to £500,000+. It all depends on whether you want to make a minimalist ad or a full-blown blockbuster squeezed into a
The factors that are included within production costs are:
Type of ad – This is basically split into animated, live-action or a mixture of both. Animated commercials typically don’t involve the need to hire a cast of actors, while live-action ones do. Since animated commercials tend to only need a voice over artist to read lines for the ad, the total production costs can vary greatly compared to live-action adverts, however this will depend on complexities of visual effects and building CG brand assets which once built can easily be re purposed across other channels.
Length of ad – Typically, TV commercials tend to be a minimum of 30-seconds long unless you have 5 -second bumper or sponsorship ads, which will book end certain shows, usually relatable to that audience, but there are those that can stretch to 60-seconds. The length of your TV commercial will have a direct influence on the production costs, with longer ads certainly costing more as more planning is required, a longer storyline and more footage will need to be processed for the final product.
Music and VO rights – One of the most influential aspects of production costs is the music used. Depending on whether your commercial uses a small-town musician’s song or one that’s a big hit on the radio, the price of the usage rights can vary drastically. The cost will also vary depending what channel its shown on, time of day and the period of time the ad plays out for. The same goes for a VO artist and will go up in price for a more familiar or famous voiceover. However, having an experienced Creative Production agency that does this day in and day out will help as they can advise on best music, VO options for your brand and have the relationships to get you the best costs that fit your budget.
Advertising cast – Whether for a voice-over or to produce a live-action TV ad, the type of people that you hire for your TV advert can change the value of its production cost. Regular, small-time actors are a lot more affordable compared to big-name celebrities, regardless of whether you hire them for just their voice or their face.
The TV ad market remains a bustling one. As mentioned before, TV advertising investment has gone up by 24% in 2021, and it is predicted to only keep going upwards from there. The second factor influencing how much a TV ad costs is the price to broadcast them.
In general, TV ad broadcast slots are traded on a Cost Per Thousand (CPM) basis. What this means in TV advertising terms is that the CPM is the price tag broadcasters like ITV or Sky will place on their advertisement slots for every thousand viewers your ad may reach. According to studies, it could cost just £6, on average, for a 30-second commercial to reach 1,000 people.
Over the years, the cost of an ad slot has decreased as the number of TV channels has boomed since television made the shift from terrestrial to digital, with plenty of channels targeting various different audiences and niches. But, overall, the factors that can influence the broadcast costs remain the same – daypart, broadcaster, TV show ratings, season, regionality and ad length. We’ll take a closer look at those elements in the next section.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the two main factors that influence how much a TV ad costs, let’s take a deeper look at the forces at play that can greatly affect the final bill.
A majority of TV commercials will feature a cast of people, in one way or another. Whether it’s a voiceover for an animated advert, or a small family for a live-action commercial, the people you hire to take part in your commercial will add to the cost of it.
The biggest factor that will impact the overall cost of your TV advert is the star power of your cast. Of course, a star-studded cast will cost a lot more than hiring regular actors. Truly consider whether your TV advert needs celebrity power in order to make it more effective before making the decision to hire one, especially since there have been plenty more successful TV commercials broadcasted without the need as you can hire BIG charismatic actors that have as much effect as a celebrity, its all about the performance.
In TV speak, a “daypart” refers to the time of day a broadcast segment is a part of. “Breakfast” and “prime time” are two rather well-known examples of dayparts. Different dayparts carry different price tags, with some being more expensive due to the relative viewership numbers.
Breakfast and daytime TV slots tend to carry a lower CPM, with prices going between £50 to £150 on the smaller channels and the bigger broadcasters charging around £3,000 to £5,000 during those same slots.
As you can see above, the bigger the broadcaster, the higher the CPM. You can expect to pay much more for a daytime spot on ITV than one on Channel 5 during the same daypart. This is due to the fact that certain broadcasters are more popular than others and, therefore, are able to place a higher CPM price tag on their viewership.
While it would be great to be able to broadcast your commercial across all channels, your TV ad campaign will work better if you are able to target the right audience using the right channels. That way, you can utilise your TV advertising budget a lot more effectively and gain more positive returns.
Another major factor that can influence the final cost of running a TV ad campaign is how highly the TV show the ad slot is placed against is rated. A more popular programme like Coronation Street – which boasts an average of 3 million live viewers this season – would charge a much higher CPM compared to those available during an episode of Tipping Point with around 1.1 million live viewers per episode.
The price difference of commercial slots can be within the thousands of pounds, even if it’s on the same channel!
Thanks to technologies like Addressable TV, TV adverts have become more targetable in recent years. With the rise in region-focused television from broadcasters like Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV and Sky, advertisers are able to narrow their focus to only broadcasting ads in specific regions around the UK.
However, targeting specific regional channels can carry a larger cost compared to the TV advertising cost if you were to broadcast on the nationwide channels.
Thinking of broadcasting a Christmas commercial for your company? Well, expect to pay a lot more than usual for those precious ad spots!
Seasonality also plays a big role in whether the CPM goes up or down, with big UK holidays like Christmas or massive sporting events like the World Cup being the most expensive regardless of the broadcasting channel. For a more cost-effective TV advertising campaign, consider purchasing off-season ad slots.
The typical TV ad slot is 30-seconds long, and, as such, the base rate for most slots will start at the CPM of a 30-second commercial. Costs will vary for ads that are longer or shorter than that timeframe, with it needing to be within 10-second multiples.
Before you think of cutting down your next TV ad to below 30-seconds in order to save costs, consider the repercussions it will have on the effectiveness of your message and creative storyline if the audience only has 10-seconds to digest the commercial. The short answer is: It really won’t be worth the cut in costs, however, you can always look into shorter, sharper bumper or sponsorships ads that book end specific shows which already has a fan base in place and if you get it right you could reap the rewards. A good example of this is ‘Tombola’, a brand that regularly sponsors ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’
Now that you know what goes into the overall TV advertising cost let’s take a look at how to best utilise your TV advertising budget so you will be able to get great results from your next campaign. Here are four tips for making the most from your TV ad budget:
Having a properly fleshed-out idea alongside an in-depth production schedule (rather than a “rough” one) will greatly reduce the risk of budgetary wastage. Plus, having plenty of time to plan your TV ad campaign allows you to make full use of the data available in order to ensure that you’re utilising the right channels at the right time to reach your intended audience.
Being able to plan in advance also gives you the opportunity to investigate and plan for all possible options in terms of production and make sure your campaign assets are utilised across all screens and channels. This allows you to get the best quality commercial in the most cost-effective way possible while still fulfilling the needs of the campaign. Planning in advance will also ensure that there is enough time for your advert to gain clearance, allowing for a smoother experience.
Breaking down the budget for your next TV ad campaign in as much detail as possible can prevent any surprise expenses from popping up while the commercial is in production. Using a budget template will help you get this done in a more straightforward way since all the things you may need to plan for within a TV ad campaign will be listed within the template.
Having a thoroughly-planned budget allows you to know exactly how much money will go where, which allows for a much smoother ride from ideation to broadcast. It will also be useful to keep team members on the same page about the campaign’s budgetary needs and should be used as a source of truth when making monetary decisions.
Even though you would have a thorough document with all the expected expenditures that would go into creating and distributing your TV advert, it is just as important to track all the expenses made as accurately as possible. This is especially important if multiple members of your team have purchasing responsibilities.
A great idea would be to use the same document that holds the budget to track your expenses so that you can easily look back at how much you should be spending on certain things. Being able to track all expenses related to your TV ad campaign this way would make it a lot easier to avoid overspending, or worse, underutilising the allocated budget.
This part of the BCAP code refers to regulations regarding pharmaceuticals, herbal and homoeopathic products, and the use of health professionals are discussed. Strict evidence standards are required for therapeutic claims. These types of products need to be subject to an increased level of scrutiny.
In order to help with the process, Clearcast hires a panel of health and medical consultants to assist in inspecting these types of products before providing clearance. Clear, scientific evidence is necessary here, and these types of product commercials should not discourage seeking potentially life-saving treatment for any condition.
A quick recap: We’ve discussed the two important factors that go into the overall TV advertising cost – production and broadcast – as well as the biggest contributors to that price tag within those two factors. Now you’re probably looking to see proper numbers so that you can gauge how much TV advertising costs.
So, how much does a TV ad cost, really? Let’s take a look at two types of ads that you will generally catch on television and give you a rough idea of what to expect if you decide to go either route:
Depending on how complex the animations for your advert need to be and exactly who will be reading those voiceover lines, there is a range of prices that you could expect to pay for a 30-second animated commercial. A “young gun” voice actor would definitely hit the budget less than hiring a big-name celebrity to run those lines, so decide what’s best for the campaign’s needs with your TV ad agency as early as possible.
For a relatively simple 30-second animated TV ad with a voiceover, a budget of around £35,000 – £45,000 would be plenty for a small-sized company to create an effective TV commercial. This budget is enough to take you from ideation to broadcast.
See our example below:
Your budget for TV advertisements will almost certainly need to be increased in order to accommodate the cost of employing actors for live-action commercials. The final cost will be quite a little different depending on the type of set that needs to be rented, which may be anything from a straightforward green screen studio to a fully-furnished “house” set.
Creating a 30-second live-action TV advertisement that simply requires renting a few pieces of furniture and a green screen studio could cost £45,000 upwards.
See our example below:
A more intense campaign thats going to run across multiple channels and for a longer period of time you’ll be looking around £150,000+ . This is what we call a super shoot where you will have 2-3 days of filming and photoshoot to capture enough content and assets that will go across multiple channels, TV ads, Digital and social videos. This should be enough content to keep a campaign running for up to 12 months.
See our example below:
All in all, there is no simple answer to how much a TV ad costs as there are many factors that come into play when drawing up the final bill. Expect to pay between £35,000 to £150,000+ for a single 30-second commercial, depending on what you’re looking for. Most importantly you have to aim to get an advert thats going to make an impact and emotionally engage with your potential customers so spending your budget on a well executed creative hook or storyline is well worth the investment for any brand.
However, the best way to maximise your TV advertising budget is to hire a great TV advertising agency – especially one with an in-house production unit. The right advertising agency will figure out the right costs to meet your budgetary and marketing needs, in order to meet the goals of your TV advertising campaign.
Do you want to know more about how we can help with your TV advertising? If so, give us a call on 01582 881144 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat.