Cable Ads 5 Bucks!
Cable has grown from 13 houses connected together in 1948 to coverage of nearly 70% of all households in the U.S. With dozens, even hundreds of channels, Cable is now a major player for local advertising dollars, some for less than 5 bucks.
On the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1960's, most of the people shortened her name from "Mary" to "Mare". We, as a group, have a tendency to find the short cut, giving nick name to names that could stand on their own. Mary didn't need to be any shorter, but it was cute to cut it down. Many Margarets are called Peggy, figure that one out. And many if not most John's are called Jack.
It is little surprise that Cable became the shortened name for Community Antenna Television, CATV. In the days of CATV, local commercial inserts were not available.
Community Antenna Television, CATV originated as a service to those who lived in an area where TV was impossible to see. I visited the home of a friend's mother in the mountains of North Carolina several decades ago. With a tall antenna and booster amplifiers, the best she could do was a fuzzy picture on ONE channel. Legends abound about who had the first community antenna. Most research says the first official CATV company began charging a fee to hook up in 1948. In those days CATV was no more than one big antenna tower on a high hill (or mountain) with a Cable running down the side and two or more homes connected.
In 1972, Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin of Sterling Manhattan Cable launched the nation's first payTV network, Home Box Office (HBO). Cable became more than an antenna for local stations. Cable became a major player.
Today, most Cable companies have the ability to INSERT your commercial into many of the Cable networks. The networks don't stop the show with a black screen for local commercials, instead they fill the space with ads that sell something (exercise machines, fancy knives, or something from Ron Popeil). "..order now and we'll make the 4th payment for you!"
Local Cable commercial insertions are available 15 (or more) major networks and the list grows every month. Local advertisers can no longer afford to ignore the marketing potential, and lost cost, available through the use of Cable advertising.
Most offer a package that will put your commercial into a mix of Cable network programs at all hours of the day for as little as $5 per commercial. Yup, $5 for a commercial on ESPN, CNN Headline News or the Discovery Channel. The premium channels (those that cost extra above the standard cable package, HBO, Showtime etc.) do not allow commercials to be inserted
The Cable people sell very large packages with hundreds of commercials, splattered over all the networks allowing insertions. You have no control over where, when, or what channel your ad will appear. As a result, you get hundreds for a low price.
You can see why this is so by working the math. Ask the Cable TV salesman how many channels he has on his system, and how many homes are connected. Then ask how many channels will have your commercials.
If there are 10,000 homes connected and the system has 25 channels and your ads will be inserted into 5 channels you will need a lot of ads to reach even a small percentage of the people. Ads are inserted into news and sports channels and entertainment and super station channels. Computers do it automatically, so the Cable company doesn't have to have people on the job 24 hours a day to run your commercial. Cable companies can insert one or one thousand commercials with a few keystrokes and with thousands of slots every day, they have no problem selling you a bunch for little money.
The major drawback of advertising on Cable is the amateurish way most Cable commercials are produced. Because of the low price for the ads, Cable companies often produce commercials with a tech school graduate and a mini cam.
Don't expect award winning commercials for five bucks. Some charge extra to produce your commercial, some offer it as a part of the package. Take a look at what they have done for others. Ask to see a demo reel. If you don't like what you see, consider hiring your own crew to do it your way.
One way or another you will have to pay some extra to get a good commercial. Make one that will last for some time. After all it will take a long time for it to show up in all the prime slots on all the insert networks.
Professionally produced commercials can cost over $5,000 for 30 seconds and may take as long as a week for initial taping, longer for final editing.
This cost can be reduced if you perform the creative function and write your own commercials as well as furnishing talent for the ads. Some frugal advertisers have been able to hold production costs to as little as $200 per ad.
As with all commercials, make sure your name and what you do is at the beginning, at least in the middle and at the end. Phone number is not as important as name. You don't watch TV with a pad and pencil to write down phone numbers and neither does anyone else. Get them to remember your company. Cook up a slogan.
Avoid the trap of being talked into standing in front of store and doing the ad yourself. Most Cable sales reps will trot this out first thing. Ego sells! Your friends may mention it, but it will not sell as well as a commercial featuring what you can do for those viewing at home. Remember, advertising is not about YOU, it's about THEM. Value and benefits, value and benefits, not, "look at me and my kids".
Cable can be an effective part of your local advertising mix at a very reasonable price.
For more about advertising get my article "What the Newspaper Won't Tell You" MailTo:NewspaperAds@BigIdeasGroup.com
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