After midnight, 60%-70% of TV networks switch to infomercials – fodder for many jokes and a nine-billion dollar industry. Paid programming offers a very small cost per impression because even during overnight hours, 106 million potential customers could elect to watch paid programming. And networks are hungry for programming simply because there are so many of them; because infomercials fill that gap, they are very cost-effective for advertisers. On some networks, a half-hour TV show can air on national television for as little as $1000.
Television is an invasive advertising medium; commercials appear on television whether we want them to or not. Thirty-second TV commercials are an interruption to programming, however, and receptivity is not guaranteed – in fact, it’s only about 20%-30%. However, television advertising costs are based on how many people are watching the program that the commercial interrupts; it includes viewers who don’t watch your expensive 30-second commercial because they are throwing a load of clothes into the washing machine or using the remote to check out what other networks have to offer. In contrast,
because viewers choose to watch infomercials, receptivity is 100%.
Most infomercials market products that enhance one of only three things: sex, health, or wealth. This covers a wide range of products, however, from books and counseling to real estate and vitamin supplements. Viewers choose to tune in to paid programming because they are interested in the information being offered. And who isn’t interested in being sexier, healthier, or wealthier? Nearly any product that enhances one of these items can be successfully marketed with an infomercial, and success can even be predicted with testing.
An infomercial company can arrange of a test of your company’s product via a small network of around two million households for about four months; the data from the test can be used to determine whether a regional or national rollout will be successful. This type of testing underscores the results-driven nature of paid programming; success is predicted based on the number of phone calls and website visits, not the number of impressions. Testing minimizes costs while maximizing ROI, since the data can also be used to fine-tune the program and its markets.
Spending fewer dollars on production and more on airtime also helps maximize ROI; in many cases, a $10,000 program will work just as well or better than a $100,000 program. It pays to invest the extra dollars in properly placed airtime – and in determining how all those extra orders will be filled!