Local Cable

Local Cable FAQ's

This section contains a list of frequently asked questions regarding local cable advertising.

What is Spot Cable?
Cable advertising can be broken down into two categories: network and spot.

Network cable refers to buying commercial time directly from a cable network to reach their entire national audience.

Spot Cable refers to buying commercial time on various cable networks in a specific market(s) or geographic area(s).

How many cable systems are in the U.S.?
There are now slightly over 6,100.

How do I find what cable system serves my area? How do I contact them?
Actually, there are several ways to do this:

What is a DMA?
DMA stands for Designated Market Area. DMAs are a way of designating particular geographic markets and are often ranked by the size of population. Go to www.nielsenmedia.com for a complete listing of DMAs.

What is an Interconnect?
An interconnect is simply a large group of cable systems within a DMA that are “connected” together. An interconnect gives advertisers the option to reach all cable households within a given market with one buy, one contact and one tape.

What is a Zone?
A Zone is a local area or subset of a DMA.

What is Market Segmentation?
Market Segmentation gives advertisers the ability to deliver customized advertising messages to specific zones within a market.

How can I buy cable for the complete market in a DMA?
Through an interconnect, which links two or more cable systems together to distribute ads across a wider geographic area. What's more, interconnects are growing rapidly. Our online Cable System Directory also lists interconnects for a given DMA (where applicable).

If I want to buy cable in more than one DMA, do I have to call each cable system in each market, or is there an easier way?
No, absolutely not and yes, there is an easier way. Cable rep firms like NCC specialize in placing ads across different DMA/markets and local systems to help you make your cable ad buys more efficient and more cost-effective.

I know I can buy cable nationally, throughout a DMA, or in a part of a DMA. How about regionally?
This depends. While there are regional cable networks that do cover two or more DMAs, the only way to buy ads in cable programming in, say, only the eastern US is to make a multi-market buy. Fortunately, cable rep firms such as NCC make this process relatively easy.

Do I need to have a commercial already produced if I want to advertise on cable?
Not at all. In fact, most cable sales offices offer production services to advertisers and will gladly produce a high-quality, high impact commercial that will showcase your business or client's business according to your specific needs. In the few cases where a local system doesn’t do commercial production, they can recommend a third party who can.

How much does a commercial on local cable cost?
Unfortunately, as a trade association we are prohibited from discussing costs. All we can say is that local cable is very targeted and with little waste. Furthermore, the commercials probably cost less than you think.

Can I put commercials in cable networks that will just reach my immediate area?
Yes you can. Ads can be placed that cover a DMA or a subset of a DMA, usually referred to as a “zone.”

Which cable networks can I put my commercial on?
For each cable network a system puts commercials on, they must make a capital investment in a separate piece of equipment. Therefore, your local system may not insert ads in every ad-supported cable network, but they will surely insert ads in those networks that have the highest viewership and advertiser value.

Please contact the VAB for further questions.