Video advertising can be an effective avenue of reaching an audience, in large measure because of the proliferation of televisions, cable channels, and VCRs in American homes over the past few decades. Video advertising also has the advantage of being free of the presentation limitations associated with other advertising media. With video media, an advertiser can combine audio, visual, and textual effects as well as other media in presenting its products or services. Although video gives advertisers the ability to reach a wide audience, it is primarily oriented toward consumers. This means that it may not be the best possible medium for advertising industrial, technical, or business oriented products and services. The broad reach of video advertising may also be inappropriate for companies that operate in small, clearly defined niche market or geographic area. Video advertising can be very expensive, but there are several video options that can be used effectively by small businesses of modest financial means.
NETWORK TELEVISION Network television reaches the largest audience of all advertising media. As the Small Business Administration noted in Advertising Your Business, most small businesses use "spot television," which is an ad "placed on one station in one market." Placing such a spot ad on one of the national networks can be rather expensive, depending on the size of the audience reached and the demand of the specific time slot desired. In any case, such network television spots are often priced well beyond the financial means of small businesses.
Local television, on the other hand, is much more affordable, and many small businesses use it to reach local consumers. Local network advertising time is usually purchased as 30-second "spot announcements," which are similar to the network spot ads. The time slots for local ads begin in the early morning and continue up until the network news broadcasts begin. As with network television, the cost for such a spot depends on the size of the audience determined to be watching and the demand for the particular time slot.
CABLE AND SATELLITE TELEVISION Cable and satellite stations offer selectivity, low cost, and flexibility. Since many cable stations, like ESPN and the History Channel , broadcast specific kinds of programs that appeal to certain demographic groups, a defined audience can be targeted. Spot ads are purchased from either a national cable network or from a local cable station. The cost depends on the cable penetration in the area and the channel's viewership. For example, most infomercials are broadcast on cable stations, such as the Lifetime Network, because of the programming flexibility and comparatively low advertising costs.
Drawbacks associated with the purchase of advertising time on cable television include fragmentation (which refers to the wide range of viewing options available on cable—and thus the dilution of impact that any one ad may have) and image. The latter factor is primarily associated with local cable stations, which typically have low budgets and viewerships. Moreover, some locally produced cable shows are amateurish and/or feature offensive content.
INTERACTIVE TELEVISION Interactive and direct response television is growing in both availability and popularity. It promises to be a dynamic area in the future of video advertising. Interactive digital television now includes direct response features that allow viewers to order a pizza, book a test drive for a new automobile, or order a new music CD without leaving their sofas. In addition to the benefits for consumers, interactive TV also offers businesses the opportunity to collect a great deal of data about their potential customers. Some experts predict that this will usher in an era of targeted, highly personalized television advertising.
VIDEOTAPE AND CASSETTES As VCRs and home movies exploded in popularity, video cassettes became a viable advertising option. This viability rests in part on the modest cost associated with producing many business videos. As Target Market noted, video companies could produce and distribute a video cassette advertisement for as little as $1.50 per unit in the mid-1990s. These cassettes are often categorized into three general types: promotional videos, demonstration videos, and training videos.
Promotional videos are used to create awareness among both consumers and investors. These kinds of videos can be played on monitors from store show rooms to those in parking garages. They can also be used by salespeople to help with their sales pitches. Demonstration videos can be used in a direct mail or "V-Mail" campaign to introduce consumers to a business's products and services, though the cost associated with such campaigns is usually prohibitive for small enterprises. Finally, videos have become an increasingly popular tool for internal use in the business world. Human resources and sales departments often use videos to educate their employees. Such videos reduce the amount of time experienced staff are required to spend on training their employees. These videos also make sure that the information each employee receives is consistent, communicating agreed upon business objectives.
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