A television commercial is a short period of recorded television programming commissioned and paid for by an advertiser. It carries a specific message, advertising, and is intended to promote, a particular product or service. Marketers and advertisers can speak of television commercials as TVDs. For the purpose of this article, I am confining myself to discussing only those TVDs that are meant to promote products and services. The term “marketing” is broader and covers any promotional activity aimed at increasing sales. In the context of advertising on television, a “product” is described as something sold, while a “service” is defined as a unique contribution that furthers the market’s purposes.
The most common forms of TV advertising are spots, commercials, infomercials, and teleseminars. Spots are the most common form of marketing on television, placing an advertorial in front of the audience just before they reach their turn to watch the program they are interested in. Commercials are designed to arouse interest, by presenting information about a product or service in a special way, to invite the viewers to make a purchase. Infomercials are essentially commercials presented in between regular programs on a specific topic. While it is not technically a commercial production, infomercials do benefit from the “time-shifting” effect created by a TV advertisement.
Another way in which advertising revenue is generated is through the production of teleseminars. A teleseminar is an audio and video broadcast delivered to a target audience by a professional host or hostess. It covers a specific topic with guidance and entertainment to guide viewers toward a solution. Unlike commercials, however, there is no attempt to sell viewers anything. Instead, viewers are encouraged to seek answers from the presenter. Like spot plays, tees also benefit from the medium’s ability to attract a specific type of audience.
The advertising structure of television broadcasts has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. In the 1960s, an ad could span multiple pages, with several minutes of dialogue explaining why and how the product in question was necessary. This format made for a more direct relationship between the product and its intended user, as they were able to instantly know if and when a sale would be made. Nowadays, viewers are presented with a single adverts panel for each programme they are watching, often with nothing more than a brief description and a logo. In a single scene, several different TV advertising system types will be shown to the audience. These are usually focused on particular products, as opposed to a general message that may appear at several points throughout the program.
The structure of the advertising unit on television has also changed dramatically, with an increased focus on shorter, snappy campaigns. The days of inserting long, descriptive phrases into a programme are gone, replaced by short, punchy statements that grab the viewer’s attention before they have time to stop and think. Television advertisements are generally split up into two main categories, depending on their target audience. For example, there are advertisements that are specifically targeted at children, aimed at calming crying babies, or that feature people playing sport or enjoying a relaxing evening. The aim of the latter type of advertisement is to tug at the viewer’s heartstrings and get them to take the desired action, such as purchasing a product or joining a particular social network.
As well as identifying demographics, advertisers now know where their audience is likely to be located. This allows for a much more targeted approach to marketing, with a much greater likelihood of generating a sale. The target demographic will have been identified through research, making it easier for an advertising company to work out what type of audience it is most likely to appeal to. Adverts are also matched up against the specific actions or conditions that viewers are likely to find appealing, making it much more likely that they will buy the product being advertised. In fact, one of the major goals of modern TV advertising is to match the viewer with the product that matches their own personal likes and dislikes, therefore maximizing the chances of a sale being made.