TV Buying 101

Value of TV Advertising

In today’s digital age, TV is sometimes overlooked on media plans due to its indirect attribution. But TV is a visually impactful upper funnel marketing tactic: generating brand awareness and attracting potential consumers– to then move them through the marketing funnel to consideration and/or conversion.

Think about your own TV viewing habits, you probably have your phone, computer, or tablet nearby or in hand. You see a TV ad that resonates, so you might perform a Google search. Google then gets the attribution for your site visit. Digital tactics then take over with remarketing efforts to keep you interested until you may be ready to learn more about the product or service. But, in this scenario, the trigger was the TV commercial.

But It’s Complicated

We know that TV can play a key role in an integrated media plan, so let’s look at everything involved in putting together efficient TV buys. First, decide if your goals can best be achieved via a cable or a broadcast buy (or both). If your message has market-wide relevance, then broadcast stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) may be most effective since ads distributed there reach the entire DMA.  If you need to isolate or heavy up messaging in a particular area, then consider zoned advertising through the local cable providers.

Whether you are buying broadcast or cable stations, the overall process is generally the same:

  • Research
      • Quantitative and qualitative tools (Nielsen and Scarborough are examples) are used to identify programming that reach large portions of the target audience.
  • Avail
      • Buyers issue RFPs to stations for inventory and rate submissions.
  • Negotiate
      • Data and tools are used to predict audience sizes that programs will deliver based on past performance and trends. Audience estimates and costs are negotiated between buyer and seller.
  • Buy
      • Putting the buy together is a puzzle. Units are plotted and purchased in the desired programs to achieve Reach (% of target audience exposed to the ad during the campaign) and Frequency (how many times the target is exposed) goals … all within budget.
  • Place
      • Once the buy is complete, buyers send the orders to the stations to confirm.
  • Maintain
      • Leading up to the schedule running (and even during) spots can be pre-empted for several reasons: breaking news, technical difficulties, or another advertiser coming in last minute and paying much higher rates.  Alternative options are re-negotiated.
  • Traffic
      • Buyers work with clients or their creative agency to get the commercial and deliver it to the stations with instructions.
  • Invoice
      • Buyers make sure that was ordered ran and reconcile any differences.
  • Post
      • Once the campaign ends and the measurement data is available, the schedule is “posted”. The actual audiences are compared to the estimates assigned during negotiations. Stations must deliver to an agreed upon percentage and any shortfalls are made up.

Media Works has a team of veteran TV buyers to craft efficient television buys and take care of these steps for you. Contact us to learn more!


Written by Account Manager, Jen Witherspoon

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