Burst. Drip. Pulse. What is Media Buying for TV Commercials?

Media buying is the process of buying TVRs (television ratings) that have the most advantageous spaces and time-slots for your TV commercial.

researchOnce you have had your TV advert produced the first step to getting it on air is to research who your target audience is. Once you have this information you can then research when they are most likely to watch TV, what they are most likely to watch and what channels those programs are on.

The next step is to work out how to spend your advertising budget wisely and how to distribute your TVRs across the weeks of a year. There are three methods that are commonly used: burst, drip and pulse. The product or service you are advertising and the budget you have available will have a strong bearing on the method you choose.

Here are more details on each of the three –



A burst campaign is the more expensive option as it involves flooding the TV advertising space with your advert. These are ideal for seasonal goods and for new product launches where you want to hit a large number of viewers. If you are a supermarket selling food for Christmas you will want to use a burst campaign as you only have a short window to sell the goods and you are operating in a very competitive market. For a burst strategy to work you would buy something like 400 TVRs and then play 100 per week for one month.

Once a burst campaign has come to an end and the product isn’t seasonal they usually move on to a drip campaign so that the product/service is kept in front of the audience.


dripA drip campaign is used when you want your advert to appear on TV for an extended period of time. Due to the low frequency of TVRs per week, anything from 40-50, this type of campaign could run for a long time as it doesn’t sap the budget like a burst campaign would. These are particularly good when you want your advert to be consistently played in front of people. Non-seasonal adverts and low-interest products and services such as insurance are perfectly suited to this type of campaign.

The consistency of these adverts and the extended air time allow active and in-active customers to become aware of the brand, this is especially important for insurance companies because you only renew your policy once a year so it’s important to have that continual air time over a long period of time.


A pulse campaign is ideal or low to moderate budget campaigns or if your advert is extremely memorable and likely to stick in people minds for an extended period of time. Because this campaign is run infrequently compared to a burst campaign research is very important for this type of strategy to succeed as you need to know exactly when your target audience is watching TV and what they are watching. Generally a pulse strategy will have a week on, week off schedule to help prolong how long the advert is on air for.

Finding a Media Buyer

With all this research you can then approach a media buyer. It’s important to hire an experienced agency as the relationships they have with channel owners could make or break a campaign. A good media buyer will nurture relationships with channels because there is a limited amount of advertising time available, so it pays to know the right people. We have media buying partners we work with because we understand how important this stage is. A good media buyer should also have good negotiation skills so they can get you the best deal possible.

Media buying and campaign management are both very important and very interesting parts of a TV commercial campaign. If you have invested considerable amounts of money into a fantastic TV advert you are going to want people to see it.

If you are looking to have a DRTV or BRTV commercial produced we’d love to hear from you, contact us here or give Andy and Will a call on  01273 911345.