Advertising: Broadcast or Cable?

By: Gabe Rocha

The boob tube. The silver screen. The telly. And for many, the babysitter.

Yes, throughout television’s 80ish years of running signals into our homes, we have developed an affinity for the magic box. Accompanied, with that affinity, has always been a place for advertising. Early on, before commercial breaks, there were black and white sponsored ads. These were often voiced by the on air talent, to demonstrate the excitement for your new, favorite product. By the 1960s, commercial breaks were showcasing the wonderful taste of your new, favorite treat. And by the 1980s, cable television boomed with new channels and a slew of new favorites. However, the separation of cable television and broadcast ultimately created a new question for advisors, “which one do I choose?”

For curious advertisers, the choice is simple once you answer one question, “Do you want a broad audience or a specific niche?” To explain better, broadcast network stations have always been designed to appeal to a wider audience, hence the name broadcast. For broadcast. think family friendly. Expect to see ad time for refreshing sodas, comfortable fabric softeners, wholesome clothing lines, and state of the art SUVs. On the opposite end are cable networks, where you have a more narrowly defined audience. Expect to see ad time (depending on the station) for the latest Call of Duty game, celebrity endorsed perfumes, anti-drug endorsements, and the craziest infomercial product yet.

For advertisers, it’s important to know your product’s target. That goes without saying! However, you would be surprised how many advertisers are unsure of where their product fits within the ever-expanding world of television. Knowing whether your product is broad enough for a wide net or narrow enough for those it is specifically designed for, is essential to achieving the success you want. And as TV expands even further in this contemporary age of the internet and satellite, it’s even more important that you understand the targeting you need.

Unlike many technologies, it seems that TV will not be phasing out. Which means for advertisers they must always ask themselves, “do you want a broad or specific audience?” Although it is almost cliché at this point to discuss your product’s demographic, you can never go over the fundamentals enough.

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