TV Networks run on advertising dollars. A national 30-second spot during prime time can command upwards of $100K for the network. Shows like Big Bang Theory can fetch upwards of $300K per 30-second spot; an ad during Monday Night Football can run upwards of $600K; and CBS got an average of $5.25 million for every 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl. But it isn’t just the networks that benefit from this arrangement. Companies rely on the visibility and credibility that TV advertising lends to their brands.
But not all TV shows are equally beneficial for a would-be sponsor. Some ad environments can harm a brand’s image, while other ad environments may be over-stimulating to viewers, causing them to forget entirely the products that were advertised during the commercial breaks.
The Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment found that the context of the programming has a significant impact on viewers’ perceptions of advertising. They concluded ads are 30% more effective if placed in an appropriate context. Their research showed that audiences improved their opinion of a brand when the ad ran in a “family-friendly” program as opposed to a program with “adult-themed” content.
Likewise, a meta-analysis of 53 studies comprising 8,489 participants conducted by researchers at Ohio State University concluded that violent and sexual programs, and ads with violent or sexual content decrease advertising effectiveness.
Proprietary research from America’s biggest retailer, Walmart, also found an 18% improvement in performance of an ad when the ad was placed in a positive program as opposed to a negative program.
These studies, and others, suggest that companies looking to maximize the impact of their TV advertising budget would do well to consider redirecting their advertising budget away from shows with sex, violence, profanity, and drug use and instead invest in shows with less problematic content.
In our many discussions with leading national advertisers, the common refrain is that they’d love to support family-friendly programming, there just isn’t enough of it to go around.
That’s why the PTC recently reached out to 200+ of the Nation’s top TV advertisers with suggestions for programs that (although not perfect), would provide a better environment for their advertising. If enough advertisers direct their budgets toward supporting shows with even marginally better content, the networks may begin to rely less and less on the shock-and-awe approach to programming — which would be better for everyone, since the shows that do better in the long-run tend to be milder, more uplifting, and more family-friendly.