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Four Tips to Fight the Soaring Cost of TV Advertising

It doesn’t seem to make sense. Increased competition usually leads to lower prices. But as the TV landscape becomes more and more fragmented, with streaming services and connected devices siphoning away more and more viewers from traditional broadcast, the cost of advertising on networks like ABC, FOX and the CW is skyrocketing. 

Reports from this year’s Upfronts – where broadcasters unveil programming for the coming season to spark negotiation of ad rates– suggest marketers are facing double-digit cost increases across most networks. The reasons are numerous, from the premium advertisers place on older affluent viewers unlikely to adopt newer viewing platforms to an influx of new brands like Spotify and Warby Parker spending their way into the marketplace. 

Regardless of the reasons, the harsh reality is that brands wanting to reach their audiences will need to act decisively to minimize the overall impact of these rising costs. Here are four strategies marketers of all sizes should consider adopting for their TV buys in the coming year: 

  1. Buy early. The biggest advertisers set the market with their upfront spending, leaving every other brand to compete for remaining inventory. Purchase scatter spots as early as you can before the start of each quarter to minimize price increases and ensure availability. 
  2. Be flexible. Start by looking at your historic TV weight levels and ask yourself if they’re still achievable at today’s rates. Should you pay the premium, or can you adjust your media mix and still achieve your goals by building reach elsewhere? 
  3. Diversify. Make sure your TV strategy goes beyond just traditional TV and includes other places where viewers are watching – Over the Top (OTT) services like Hulu and Netflix, or Connected TV solutions that allow streaming directly to connected devices (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). To maximize efficiency, consider using a service like Samba TV that consolidates OTT inventory across multiple platforms. 
  4. Measure holistically. Account for all video inventory in your weekly weight levels to represent how you’re reaching consumers. This will help you maximize reach and offset pricing increases. 


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