How to Advice on Selling TV Air Time

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The sale of airtime happens every day at TV stations large and small across the country. Airtime is broadcast or cablecast time available during a block of programming. Most TV programs are 30 minutes long and incorporate eight or more minutes of commercials. Syndicators, TV stations and TV networks sell those minutes to advertisers at the highest rate they can get.

Look for companies to whose target market the subject programming will appeal. For example, if you are selling time during a family-targeted or children's program, cereal and toy advertisers might be ideal. Programming directed toward women might be a good draw for cosmetics and household goods advertisers. On the other hand, airing a feminine-products ad during an American football or rugby game broadcast would prove less than optimal.

Seek out direct response advertising. It sometimes happens that you'll sell most of the available time but will still have some vacant spots scattered through the schedule. Short-form direct response ads are formatted in 15-second to 30-second spots and do not need to be assigned to a specific time slot when you buy them. This makes them a great option for filling small gaps in airtime at any point on the schedule. For example, you can run two 15-second spots and one 30-second ad to fill a 1-minute gap in a given time slot. Long-form direct-response ads, more commonly known as infomercial programming, are typically 30 minutes long and often used to fill empty overnight and weekend time slots.

Go local.Though you may find selling time to large companies easier, as they are familiar with the process and have a buying structure, local companies with a well-defined target market and healthy financial resources can also be good prospects. Again, seek out entities whose target markets align with the target audience of a given program.

Cultivate relationships with media buyers. Get to know the media buying movers and shakers at large, national companies. Also get cozy with media buying agencies via which many large companies place their commercials. If you are new to the game, this may take some months, if not years, but getting in with the right contacts can be invaluable. Get in to see as many media buying decision-makers as you can. Attend media and syndicated TV conferences and expos. Even if you have no airtime to sell at the moment, continue developing relationships so that if one company pulls out, you have another ready to commit its dollars.

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