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How would I air commercials nationally?

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Stephen PickeringHow would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 14, 2013 at 7:46:56 pm

Hi there,

Not sure which forum is appropriate for this question.

A client asked about the possibility of airing their commercial nationally instead of just on local cable. Local is as simple as calling up Charter Communications. But I've never looked into national commercial airtime. Is this something the local cable company would also handle or is there another entity I should refer them to?

Most of my clients are in the Janesville/Madison, Wisconsin area.

Thanks for any direction,


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 14, 2013 at 10:00:39 pm

At your local affilate station (ABC, NBC, CBS, Cable) there is generally (depending on the market size) a rep in-house who handles the big clients - regional and national. They can put you in touch with the right people to buy air time. You might also - if your client is large enough to have an agency, go through their media buyer. There are also agencies who only do media buying, which seems to be the trend. There are a number of options, and you want to shop them all to get the best rate, and the most bang for the client's buck.

Here's a link to a company which specializes in national media buying - I'm not touting their services, but there's a lot of good information in their reports, if you want to do some homework:

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Tim KolbRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 15, 2013 at 2:41:36 am

Depending on what the product/service is...many of my clients actually use a buyer and they buy certain markets...buying national is cost-effective for big consumer brands, certainly, but even some of the bigger players stretch their dollars a bit farther by buying specific local markets.

It can also become a good tool to measure run the spot with guy in the pink bunny suit in one market and the one with the lovely young lady in the workout suit in another market and see which is working better.

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Adobe Certified Instructor

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Mark SuszkoRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 15, 2013 at 3:58:10 pm

Credentialed ad agencies get a discount from the networks for airtime, so in theory, if they don't take too much of a percentage for themselves, it ends up cheaper to let the agency handle your buyst. At least that's how it USED to work.

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Todd TerryRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 17, 2013 at 7:27:10 pm

Definitely use a media buyer.

In theory it won't cost you a dime more than placing the ad yourself, even if you had the time, patience, and resources to dig and find all the contacts and spend days on the phone doing it yourself.

It doesn't cost more because the media buyer gets a different (and better) rate than you do when you call 'em up (they get an "agency rate" which is usually 10% less). They pay the agency rate, charge you the regular rate... and pocket the difference. That's how they get paid.

Now I said in theory because some buyers might be tempted to charge you more... espcially when they figure out you've never done this before. So just make sure you don't get stuck.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Bill DavisRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 20, 2013 at 6:26:17 am

It's also important to do some studying up first so you understand the language the professionals in the field will be using.

For example, media buys are typically designed around two base metrics. Reach and Frequency.

These break out what percentage of the target demographic the spot will reach across the length of the advertising schedule over a given geographical area. Frequency is how many times that audience will statistically be exposed to the ad. Broadcast advertising is typically a frequency medium in that it's not typical for people to rush out and buy a product the very first time they hear about it. It takes a while before they feel familiar enough with the product or service so that they'll make a buying decision.

This also is why the ad itself is extremely important. You'll be balancing a whole lot of media money on it's effectiveness.

Depending on the type and size of the audience you need to put the ad in front of, it's common to face a national media schedule cost in the six to seven figure range. It's a LOT of money to risk if there's not already some brand recogniation and a solid supply chain in place to properly service the orders that a national ad can generate - often overnight.

No client wants $150,000 in media bills arriving after a campaign that sold $100,000 worth of product because somebody didn't understand the game well enough at the outset. This is why the serious players do a lot of work to minimize their risk in advance. And that usually means involving people with the experience not to make big mistakes on the media buy, ad testing and effictiveness and having a system in place to properly fulfill orders when the ad airs.


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Stephen PickeringRe: How would I air commercials nationally?
by on May 23, 2013 at 11:52:11 pm

Thank you so much for the information! I think going with a Media Buyer is certainly the way to go as I have no desire to get into that kind of industry at the moment.

I should rephrase my original post. The "client" is not yet a client of mine since we've only been talking about their needs at the moment. During our conversation they asked about my ability in assisting with the distribution end of 30 second advertising spots. So, with that said I probably would not necessarily spend too much time researching pricing and negotiating, but rather find a trustworthy, reliable Media Buyer to refer them to. Of course I would be up front with my potential client in letting them know I haven't thoroughly researched pricing but simply giving them some first contacts to consider.

Having never worked with a Media Buyer myself, would it be appropriate to post on this forum for suggested Buyers to refer my client to?

Thank you again for your help, I really appreciate the information and provided links.

-Stephen Pickering

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