Types of Advertising Time Slots

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A mother and son watching tv together on the sofa.
A mother and son watching tv together on the sofa. (Image: John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Geographically based Internet ads, such as AdSense, banner ads and social media, capture a sizable segment of the advertising market. Both small and large businesses have expanded their online advertising in response to intense competition. High-quality commercials in heavy rotation remain effective in the right time slots on television and radio.

Commercials

Most radio and television commercials range from 30 to 60 seconds long. Commercials lasting 10 to 25 seconds are rare. Corporations occasionally produce 120-second commercials, run two ads back-to-back or air infomercials.

A quality ad requires planning. The Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends professionally produced commercials. The SBA website states a poorly produced commercial can “severely limit the effectiveness of your message, and... create a bad image in your customer's mind.”

Before filming your commercial, determine your company's customer demographic, including whether it's locally based, national or international. Next, determine your budget. Television commercials are expensive.

Every station reaches every potential customer at some point during the day. Choose the time slot and medium appealing to your demographic. Local time slots begin between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and continue until 6:30 p.m.

Radio

Advertising on radio is a cost-effective solution for small businesses. Slots are more economical than television, and radio commercials cost less to produce. Choosing the correct station is vital. The station's estimated listeners is only one factor to analyze. Determine which station most likely appeals to your customer base and potential customers. Determine the times your customers listen to the radio. For example, if your business is farm-related, the best time to run a commercial is during the morning farm report. Drive-time slots are the most expensive and popular on radio. Drive time is the period when workers travel to or from work: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Television

Choose a time slot that reaches your potential customers. Run the commercial at least five to seven times for maximum effectiveness. Prime-time television is from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. A 30-second commercial aired during this period is more expensive than at any other time. Special events, such as the Super Bowl, which cost as much as $3 million for 30 seconds in 2009, are typically priced too high for small businesses. Advertising on cable stations, such as USA or Spike, is more affordable than on the major networks. According to the SBA, commercials on cable cost 10 percent to 20 percent less.

Tips

More people listen to the radio in the spring and summer because of outdoor activities. Fall and winter drives audiences indoors and results in an increase in television viewers. Compare prices between the 30- and 60-second slots. Often, a 30-second commercial is only about one-third less. This makes the 60-second slot a better deal. Prime-time television commercials cost 10 to 30 times more than drive-time radio ads. Stations have special package plans, contract rates and discounts for “fringe” times, or those times next to prime-time slots.

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