The Most Expensive TV Ads cost $700k+, but the Real Cost is Much Higher

For all the talk of television’s demise, TV advertising still works, and marketers know it. Though ad rates have come down a bit in recent years, a new report from Ad Age finds that a top show like NBC’s Sunday Night Football can still fetch nearly $700,000 for a 30-second ad.

But even then, the real cost of reaching viewers is far more expensive. Indeed, it’s one thing to serve TV viewers an ad impression, but another thing entirely to get them to pay attention to the screen while it airs. If advertisers want to make the most of their costly TV ad buys, they need to go beyond ratings and begin making spending decisions based on Viewability and Attention metrics that tell them how many people they’re really reaching.

After all, the goal of advertising isn’t to buy as many impressions as possible, it’s to capture viewers’ attention and change their behavior.

How brands can calculate the true cost of TV advertising.

Right now, advertisers are paying for TV ads based on quantity, with no regard to the quality of the impressions they’ve purchased. So a brand might pay $685,227 for an ad to Sunday Night Football’s audience of over 20 million viewers, but it has no insight into how many of those viewers will actually see the ad when it airs.

Certainly, many of the brand’s impressions will be non-viewable, airing after the intended viewer has left the room to grab a drink or make a snack. Others will air while the viewer is in the room, but paying attention to something else (their smartphone, for example). As a result, brands have to pay much more if they want to serve 20 million Viewable ads or reach 20 million Attentive viewers.

At TVision, our computer vision technology allows us to measure Ad Viewability and eyes-on-screen Attention for every ad that airs on television. With this information, we’re able to take the price of a marketer’s ad buy and calculate how much money it would cost to reach the same size audience if every impression were served in-view or to an attentive viewer.

When we ran the numbers, we found that the Viewability-adjusted cost of a Sunday Night Football ad was over $1 million.

Want to make smarter ad buys? Start incorporating Viewability and Attention.

We also calculated the performance of every other program in Ad Age’s top 20 most expensive shows. The results offer a perfect example of how brands can use Attention and Viewability to find undervalued inventory and make smarter, more efficient ad buys.

#

Program

Channel

Day of Week

Price

Viewability

Attention

1

Sunday Night Football

NBC

Sunday

$685,227

66.58%

39.28%

2

Thursday Night Football

FOX

Thursday

$540,090

65.09%

40.04%

3

This is Us

NBC

Tuesday

$359,413

80.55%

53.22%

4

The Masked Singer

FOX

Wednesday

$201,683

69.61%

43.13%

5

The Voice

NBC

Monday

$192,983

74.36%

42.63%

6

Grey's Anatomy

ABC

Thursday

$186,026

74.25%

51.33%

7

The Voice

NBC

Tuesday

$179,951

74.79%

44.12%

8

9-1-1

FOX

Monday

$172,215

75.67%

46.19%

9

New Amsterdam

NBC

Tuesday

$172,085

81.09%

49.1%

10

Empire

FOX

Tuesday

$171,187

71.05%

43.76%

11

Young Sheldon

CBS

Thursday

$160,698

90.41%

62.08%

12

Modern Family

ABC

Wednesday

$148,228

69.03%

40.51%

13

Chicago P.D.

NBC

Wednesday

$143,082

79.09%

34.87%

14

Chicago Fire

NBC

Wednesday

$140,834

74.11%

37.67%

15

The Conners

ABC

Tuesday

$135,996

75.3%

53.19%

16

NCIS

CBS

Tuesday

$135,858

71.52%

46.47%

17

The Goldbergs

ABC

Wednesday

$134,284

84.31%

56.71%

18

The Unicorn

CBS

Thursday

$134,107

84.76%

54.76%

19

The Good Doctor

ABC

Monday

$133,281

84.25%

50.59%

20

The Simpsons

FOX

Sunday

$133,268

80.06%

49.16%

 

For instance, CBS’ Young Sheldon was the 11th most expensive show, with a 30-second ad rate of $160,698. But due to the show’s engaged audience and 30-minute format, viewers rarely left the room when it was on. It has the highest rates of Ad Viewability and Ad Attention for all of the top 20 more expensive shows.

Conversely, CBS crime show NCIS was the 16th most expensive show on TV at $135,858. But its Ad Attention is below many others, implying an adjusted cost of more than double to $292,356. If advertisers are looking for an engaged audience at an affordable price, they may want to look at other placements on TV.

These are just a few examples of why Viewability and Attention are crucial metrics for any advertiser who is planning to do business in the high-stakes TV marketplace. While marketers can’t help that TV costs continue to rise, they have all the tools they need to make smart spending decisions and reach engaged viewers.

Want to understand how to get the most out of your brand’s TV investment? Contact us to learn more.

The Auto TV Performance Report
The Auto TV Performance Report