There are several misconceptions running around the truth about the differences between infomercials and commercials. It’s not uncommon for people who are unfamiliar with the technicalities of the TV advertising industry to get confused with these two. So, it’s important to shed light and provide a clear understanding of the issue.
Infomercials and commercials are both connected to the TV advertising business. However, there are some extents to which only one or the other is able to reach. And, that is what we’re going to discuss here.
Let’s begin the introductions with their definitions, and we’ll move on to listing down their notable differences.
What Is A Commercial?
For starters, the term “commercial” comes from the word “commerce”, which involves the general sense of business activities in terms of buying and selling. It engages with trading strategies that focus on setting your position in the market.
A commercial, therefore, is the generic type of endorsement in the advertising industry.
Your ultimate target is to gain profit from your commercial strategy. The main question is, how do you do that?
Here is where advertising comes in, but it doesn’t necessarily mean TV commercials alone. Commercials happen to include the radio and other advertisement types in many forms.
Types and Forms of Commercials
Paid advertisements on TV and radio are the two most common types of commercial advertising. Still, it also uses other popular types of paid announcements on paper flyers, directories, newspapers, magazines, and billboards. The latest and quite advanced form of commercials uses online digital technology, such as social media marketing, search engine marketing, and email marketing.
Commercials also come in different forms of creatives. In the olden times, people use black and white images on newspapers, billboards, and flyers, paired with words strategically crafted to catch the consumers’ attention and convince them to buy a product or subscribe to services. Now, even billboards flash video commercials. The internet is flooded with ads on web pages to regularly remind you of the things you want to buy, despite the fact that you have no need for them. The art of persuasion is ever-changing even to the point of entertainment.
Basically, commercials are paid announcements that promote business brands, products, and services as a form of investment for greater profitability.
This brings us to the question of what differs a commercial from an infomercial.
What Is An Infomercial?
The combination of the words “information” and “commercial” resulted in the formation of the term “infomercial”, which means informative commercials.
Originally, infomercials are long-form advertisements on stand-alone television programs that are featured live, usually after the primetime hours of TV entertainment, which essentially means past midnight. These in-between hours are what used to be the non-existing and non-profiting gaps for the TV industry. However, with the development of infomercials as a form of direct response marketing, the advertisers in the TV industry were able to close that gap.
One unique advantage of infomercials is its ability to entice consumers to make an immediate direct purchase. As said by Brett Jensen, director of data partnerships at iSpot.tv., “They disrupt an existing vertical possibly weighed down by brick-and-mortar stores and middleman vendors.”
Business-wise, it’s a good call for advertisers.
Infomercials rely on persuasive Call-to-Actions after lengthy attempts to provide all the information that the audience needs to know. Advertisers on infomercials aim to sell their own products, and auctioning them directly to the consumers opens the door to a higher profit margin, something that is ideal for entrepreneurs.
Latest Advantages of Infomercials
As time went by, infomercials also had to keep up with technology. They’re no longer limited to “after-primetime” hours. Some stations exclusively air recorded infomercials round-the-clock. But, of course, receiving real-time purchases remains in the procedure.
Infomercials are also made available on the internet in the form of videos. These videos are created in the same format shown on TV. They’re basically produced in the same manner. Infomercial videos can be found on social media channels and websites, which you can easily find through search engines. The discovery of different mediums extended the capability of direct television response (DRTV) in advertising products through infomercials.
The Differences Between An Infomercial and A Commercial
In this section, we will list down the factors that differ in infomercials and commercials.
- Commercials are broadcasted for about 15-30 seconds in between TV programs.
- Infomercials don’t last shorter than 15 minutes. As said, they’re long-form advertisements that are usually on-air for 30 minutes long, without interruptions. Some infomercial programs last for as long as 60 minutes.
- Commercials advertise all kinds of products and services.
- Infomercials usually promote health/fitness, beauty, and home products.
Target Audience Demographic
- Commercials can target different demographics that vary on the type and form of advertisement.
- Infomercials used to target a steeper demographic, mostly only those who stay up late at night to buy such products. With the latest technology at hand, DRTV was able to expand that. Although right now, a majority of their demographic still target people who do watch out for TV ads instead of other mediums.
When to Buy
- Commercials entice you to buy products but not necessarily in an immediate situation. You can see ad posters on train stations with products you don’t have to order right ahead because you might miss out on the discounted prices or limited-time deals.
- Infomercials encourage audiences to buy the product within the given time-frame stated on the TV ad, or else you can’t purchase it at the same discounted price.
Whom to Buy
- Commercials can advertise products that are not exclusively available from the advertiser. Consumers might have other options on whom to buy the advertised products.
- Infomercials advertise products and deals that can only be purchased directly from the advertiser.
To Wrap Things Up
There’s no mistaking that an infomercial and a commercial are not exactly alike. The key takeaway is that commercials are the general form of product or services advertisement, which uses different mediums and comes in various forms. An infomercial is apparently a form of commercial strategy that focuses on TV ads as a primary medium for product advertisement. This is probably the best way of pointing out what exactly is the difference between the two.