Guidelines When Considering Advertising

The first rule of advertising is to find a good agency. Like a travel agent who receives a commission from the airline, advertising agencies make commissions from the media outlets where the ads are placed. Agents typically receive 15 percent of the gross amount spent, whether the ad appears in a print or broadcast outlet.

Placing ads through an agency will not cost you any more than doing it yourself and it will almost certainly spare you considerable confusion and headaches. If you buy $10,000 worth of time yourself, you’ll get what $10,000 buys you. If you place it through an agency, you’ll still get $10,000 worth, but your agency will receive $1,500 from the station for bringing in business and handling the process, and you will receive the benefit of their professional guidance and experience.

When you find an agency, talk to them about whom you want to reach, how long the campaign should run, and how to get people to write or call for information. Remember that radio and TV ads depend on repetition. If you can only afford to run an ad once, choose another medium. Radio is usually more affordable than TV for organizations with little money and can be just as effective. When you start talking with an ad agency, you should know these basic advertising concepts:

  • Cost per thousand, or CPM (the M comes from the Latin mille, meaning “thousand”), refers to the dollars-and-cents cost of using a particular time slot to reach a thousand people in a given audience.
  • Program rating is the percentage of the entire U.S. audience that was tuned in to a specific program, as determined by the A. C. Nielsen Company. (Ratings are sometimes called Nielsen’s.) In 2008, there were 112 million U.S. households with TV sets (out of a total 114 million). So if a show’s rating is 15, the viewing audience was 0.15 times 112 million or 16.8 million households.
  • Program share is the number of households that watched the program divided by the number that actually had their TVs on at that time. This is a useful calculation that shows the relative strength of programs in a given time slot. The size of the viewing audience swells dramatically during the mid evening hours of 8 to 11 p.m., also known as prime time. An audience share of 15 is much larger at 10 p.m. than at 10 a.m. because more people are watching in the evening. The audience for morning television has increased dramatically over the past decade with NBC’s  Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS’sEarly Showcommanding top advertising dollars.
  • Fringe time consists of the hours leading up to and just after prime time. This is when most local news programs are aired. Other familiar time slots are daytime, when soap operas and trash or tabloid talk shows rule, and late night, the domain of Jay Leno, David Letterman, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
  • In radio, the biggest listening audiences occur during drive time, or the weekday morning and afternoon rush hours, which are known as the a.m. drive and the p.m. drive.