How Much Does It Really Cost
to Produce a TV Commercial?

So, you want to produce a commercial for television to promote your business.
Naturally, you need to set a budget before you begin. How much should you expect to
pay for a TV commercial?

Since television advertising involves so many different factors, there is no easy answer
to that question. In fact, you could spend anywhere from just over a grand to over six
figures for a single ad. But, there are some ways to prepare.

Low Budget TV Ads: Emphasize Simplicity

If you have a small budget, you can still enter the TV advertising fray to remain
competitive. In this situation, you can likely make something happen for $3,500 or less.
This budget may be enough to impact your sales and prevent your competitors from
getting too far ahead of you. 

What to Expect

With this example, you can expect a simple 30-second ad with very few extras. The ad
might include a professional voice-over, on-screen text, and royalty-free music.

Increasing Your Budget Range

Naturally, as you increase your budget, you will be able to add more detailed elements,
access additional professional services, and use more external resources.
For example, suppose that you increase your budget to $5,500. You might be able to
add some of the following features:

  • Shooting at one or two locations
  • Fees for one professional actor
  • One or two testimonials
  • Additional film crew members
  • Use of a drone camera
  • Professional hair and makeup services

At this price point, you won’t be able to incorporate all of these elements into your
commercial, but you may be able to select a couple of them to increase your production
quality.

Other Elements Included in Higher Budget Productions

If you can increase your budget even further, you might be able to hire additional actors,
increase the size of your film crew, and offer craft services. A budget of $15,000 could
cover multiple locations, animations, and sound effects. Increase that to $20,000, and
you may be able to spread your production over two days and create video content for
several objectives.
As your budget increases, you can expect to include these features in your production
and finished product:

  • Use of licensed music
  • B-roll footage
  • High-quality animations
  • Completed video in 4K and HD
  • Filming in multiple cities
  • Location scouting
  • Preproduction services
  • Art direction
  • Location permits

If you decide you want to take advantage of every professional service, hire talent, film
on location, and so on, you could easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on your
commercial. But will that budget give you a good return on your investment?

Consider the Expected Value

Having a limitless budget doesn’t necessarily mean you should spend that much
money. First, consider what you will gain from a successful commercial. 
For example, are you testing the waters of video advertising? As a proof-of-concept
project, spending more than a few grand may not make sense. However, if you believe
that spreading awareness of your product or service could add millions to your bottom
line, spending six figures may be absolutely worthwhile.

Saving on Video Production

Are these figures making you worried that you won’t have the budget to produce a
worthwhile commercial? In that case, remember the advice for low-budget advertising:
emphasize simplicity. Then, add production items and services only after careful
consideration.

What skills can you and your team contribute to the production of a simple commercial?
Is there someone in your organization who knows how to make video content? If you
are able to keep at least some of the production process in-house, you could reap some
significant savings.

Have Clear Goals and Vision

Video commercial production costs can creep up quickly if you don’t have a clear idea
of what your final product should look like. This is especially true if you want to work
with a professional production company or video production platform. 

The fewer decisions you’ve made ahead of time, the more preproduction work will be
required. Since creative consultation work can be expensive, it’s more efficient to have
a good idea of what you need before you reach out to a video production company.

Remember Other Costs 

Many steps are involved in getting a television commercial in front of your target
audience. Production costs are just one consideration; you must also consider
broadcasting and distribution costs as well. For example, a small local broadcast will be
less expensive than a national advertising campaign.

Whatever avenue you choose, these costs must be included in your budget planning
process.

Adam Hansen