Cable Ads 5 Bucks!


Cable has grown from 13 houses connected togetherin 1948 to coverage of nearly 70% of allhouseholds in the U. S. With dozens, even hundredsof channels, Cable is now a major player for localadvertising dollars, some for less than 5 bucks.

On the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1960's, mostof the people shortened her name from "Mary" to"Mare". We, as a group, have a tendency to findthe short cut, giving nick name to names thatcould stand on their own. Mary didn't need to beany shorter, but it was cute to cut it down. ManyMargarets are called Peggy, figure that one out. And many if not most John's are called Jack.

It is little surprise that Cable became theshortened name for Community Antenna Television, CATV. In the days of CATV, local commercialinserts were not available.

Community Antenna Television, CATV originated as aservice to those who lived in an area where TV wasimpossible to see. I visited the home of afriend's mother in the mountains of North Carolinaseveral decades ago. With a tall antenna andbooster amplifiers, the best she could do was afuzzy picture on ONE channel. Legends abound aboutwho had the first community antenna. Most researchsays the first official CATV company begancharging a fee to hook up in 1948. In those daysCATV was no more than one big antenna tower on ahigh hill (or mountain) with a Cable running downthe side and two or more homes connected.

In 1972, Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin ofSterling Manhattan Cable launched the nation'sfirst pay­TV network, Home Box Office (HBO).Cable became more than an antenna for localstations. Cable became a major player.

Today, most Cable companies have the ability toINSERT your commercial into many of the Cablenetworks. The networks don't stop the show with ablack screen for local commercials, instead theyfill the space with ads that sell something(exercise machines, fancy knives, or somethingfrom Ron Popeil). "..order now and we'll make the4th payment for you!"

Local Cable commercial insertions are available 15(or more) major networks and the list grows everymonth. Local advertisers can no longer afford toignore the marketing potential, and lost cost, available through the use of Cable advertising.

Most offer a package that will put your commercialinto a mix of Cable network programs at all hoursof the day for as little as $5 per commercial. Yup, $5 for a commercial on ESPN, CNN HeadlineNews or the Discovery Channel. The premiumchannels (those that cost extra above the standardcable package, HBO, Showtime etc.) do not allowcommercials to be inserted

The Cable people sell very large packages withhundreds of commercials, splattered over all thenetworks allowing insertions. You have no controlover where, when, or what channel your ad willappear. As a result, you get hundreds for a lowprice.

You can see why this is so by working the math. Ask the Cable TV salesman how many channels he hason his system, and how many homes are connected. Then ask how many channels will have yourcommercials.

If there are 10,000 homes connected and the systemhas 25 channels and your ads will be inserted into5 channels you will need a lot of ads to reacheven a small percentage of the people. Ads areinserted into news and sports channels andentertainment and super station channels. Computers do it automatically, so the Cablecompany doesn't have to have people on the job 24hours a day to run your commercial. Cablecompanies can insert one or one thousandcommercials with a few keystrokes and withthousands of slots every day, they have no problemselling you a bunch for little money.

The major drawback of advertising on Cable is theamateurish way most Cable commercials areproduced. Because of the low price for the ads, Cable companies often produce commercials with atech school graduate and a mini cam.

Don't expect award winning commercials for fivebucks. Some charge extra to produce yourcommercial, someoffer it as a part of the package. Take a look atwhat they have done for others. Ask to see a demoreel. If you don't like what you see, considerhiring your own crew to do it your way.

One way or another you will have to pay some extrato get a good commercial. Make one that will lastfor some time. After all it will take a long timefor it to show up in all the prime slots on allthe insert networks.

Professionally produced commercials can cost over$5,000 for 30 seconds and may take as long as aweek for initial taping, longer for final editing.

This cost can be reduced if you perform thecreative function and write your own commercialsas well as furnishing talent for the ads. Somefrugal advertisers have been able to holdproduction costs to as little as $200 per ad.

As with all commercials, make sure your name andwhat you do is at the beginning, at least in themiddle and at the end. Phone number is not asimportant as name. You don't watch TV with a padand pencil to write down phone numbers and neitherdoes anyone else. Get them to remember yourcompany. Cook up a slogan.

Avoid the trap of being talked into standing infront of store and doing the ad yourself. MostCable sales reps will trot this out first thing. Ego sells! Your friends may mention it, but itwill not sell as well as a commercial featuringwhat you can do for those viewing at home. Remember, advertising is not about YOU, it's aboutTHEM. Value and benefits, value and benefits, not,"look at me and my kids".

Cable can be an effective part of your localadvertising mix at a very reasonable price.

For more about advertising get my article"What the Newspaper Won't Tell You"MailTo:NewspaperAds@BigIdeasGroup. com

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