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Figuring Out a Production Budget These Days Is Complicated

By Ad Age Staff Published on .

Like most everything else in the modern production model, budgeting has gotten more complicated. What used to be a simpler set of black­and­white costs for TV production is now a spectrum of grey possibilities across many media. Thirty­second commercials averaged around $350,000 in production costs for most of the decade. That of course, figured in the lower end small crew cable spot that only cost $10,000 as well as the Super Bowl blowouts that topped the million dollar mark. (Or not. One of Dorito's Super Bowl ads was made by a fan and cost only $200 to make.)

Still, even with the usual outliers, costs were fairly predictable. One TV ad costs included the basics of filming and production of one ad, plus any creative add­ons such as celebrity talent, music, special effects, etc. However, today the cost of a filming and production have to take into account digital extras for web, social and mobile assets. Then the post production costs to make each one fit the media platform have to be worked in, as well as public relations or on ­staff communications time to publicize and promote those "freebies" on social media.

Even the industry has given up trying to quantify it. For 25 years, the American Association of Advertising Agency published an annual report on the average cost of a :30 commercial, neatly divided by category and industry and included extra editorial, music and post­production average costs. (The last one, by the way tallied costs through 2011 and found the average cost of a :30 ad was $354,000. That hadn't changed much in 10 years ­ In 2001, the average was $358,000.) But in January the 4A's announced that it had cancelled the report because in today's media fractured world, it is no longer relevant.

Nowadays, every marketer and its agency needs to find their own solution to figuring out production costs. Once that is decided, Look Book can help you find the right production partners to execute your vision.

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