Category Archives: cable

Traditional Advertising Focus: Cable

When cable was new, and I’m old enough to remember when it was, it was the advertising stepchild. Not so anymore. Cable advertising can add impact to your marketing mix, especially for local small businesses. I’ve personally experienced measurable results from from cable advertising with my clients.


Overall, cable viewership is greater than broadcast viewership. That’s a little misleading in that no individual cable show comes close to the top rated broadcast show in total viewers. TNT’s The Closer gets less than half the viewers of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. That doesn’t mean you should choose broadcast TV advertising over cable. Let’s see if we can help you make some sense of cable.

Why Use Cable Advertising?

Choosing between cable or broadcast TV advertising is a matter of choosing between reach and frequency. Reach is the total number of different people reached by a campaign, frequency is the number of times an individual is reached by your message. When choosing between the two, frequency should almost always be your choice.

See my article here: The Case for Frequency

Use cable for frequency, broadcast for reach. If you have the budget to do both, it’s a good 1-2 combination punch. If you don’t, cable is the answer for a smaller budget.

Cable Advertising Effectiveness

Cable is not an immediacy medium. It won’t knock your door down. Really, there is no advertising medium capable of knocking your door down. The medium itself, be it cable, broadcast TV, or Google Adwords is simply a method of access.  Don’t use cable, or any form of advertising, like it was a drug: take a hit, get a high. Do some advertising, get some customers.

Cable’s power is in building a brand relationship and building interest in your business. Cable viewers are loyal to their favorite cable programs. This gives you the opportunity to share your brand story over time and build a connection with potential customers.

Cable Advertising Schedules

You can buy the “packages,” which will be cheaper and give you (mostly) greater reach. But remember, frequency is more important than reach. You can achieve greater frequency by having a fixed schedule. That means you chose the channels, the times and the programs in which you run. You run in those channels, times and programs repeatedly so that people will come in contact with your message repeatedly.

To achieve greater frequency, the key word is “narrow.” Narrow your channels, narrow your time frame, narrow your programs. The narrower your schedule, the greater your frequency.

Your Advertising Message

What’s more important than both frequency and reach? Your advertising message. Let me be clear: the most important factor in determining success of any advertising campaign is your message.

What makes a good cable advertising message? A local cable rep recently gave me these qualities of a good message:

  1. Having a local face.
  2. Showing your location.
  3. Showing and demonstrating your products.

Those are the technical aspects of a good commercial, but they don’t really make your commercial an effective message. Effective messages give people a reason to pay attention to your brand or to take action with your business.

It is whimsical to think that you can magically make someone want to do business with you just because they watched one of your commercials. Remember this: People have established purchase habits, they have a family of brands with which they are comfortable doing business. If they are not doing business with you, your objective is to become part of that family of brands. That means having a relationship, and that means not being a pushy salesperson all the time.

Effective advertising messages do a couple of things: They cause customers to start thinking about your business, and they cause people to consider altering your purchase habits. Use cable’s power of frequency to tell your brand story over time, forming a relationship with potential customer and causing them to consider a purchase from you.

Do you have more questions about cable advertising? Please post them in the comment section below, or email me at Jay<at>

You may also be interested in my free recorded advertising webinar:
Straddling the Fence: Choosing the right combination of traditional and online advertising.

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