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How to Find When a TV Commercial Aired

Searching for commercials
future television image by Nicemonkey from Fotolia.com

Advertisers pay big bucks for television time to ensure their product gets in front of as many people as possible. To be sure they are having the best opportunity to reach their target audience, they need to collect data on exactly when their commercials air. Actors, directors and other crew members in the commercial production field also have a vested interest in when and where these commercials air. Knowing this allows them to market themselves to the people who might hire them in the future--and to crow to their friends and family about their success.

Searching for commercials
future television image by Nicemonkey from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • Computer
  • Telephone
  • Internet Connection

Do it Yourself

What's the brand?
Royal Butterfly Brand Red image by Vojsek from Fotolia.com

Ask yourself what the product is used for and the brand. Knowing the product is the key.

Toy commercials air when kids are awake and likely to watch television.
toys image by Ekaterina Krasnikova from Fotolia.com

Determine the time frame. If the product is more adult-oriented, the commercial is likely to air during primetime (8 to 11 p.m.). Toys and candy commercials are more likely to air in the mornings and on weekends.

Record and review
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Set your DVR or VCR to record the program the commercial is most likely to run during. As an example, for commercials for children-centered products, try ABC, NBC or CBS on Saturday mornings between 7 and 10 a.m., or Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network for after school, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. For ads concerning adult products, such as laundry detergent and TV dinners, afternoon soap opera time is a great time. Check out the major networks, ABC, NBC and CBS between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for your best shot.

Hire a Professional Tracking Company

Know how much you have to spend.
calculator image by Szymon Apanowicz from Fotolia.com

Determine your budget. A television commercial tracking service can provide exact dates, times and programs, for a fee, so knowing your spending capabilities before you begin your comparison will help to make your final determination.

What information is important to you?
data image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com

Ask yourself what details you need about the commercial airing:

--number of times a commercial aired within a given time frame (1 day; 1 week; 1 month; 1 year, etc.) --markets the commercial aired in (city, state, region) --programs the commercial aired during ("The Simpsons," "General Hospital," "Saving Grace," etc.) --turnaround time in receiving the information

Look at what each company offers.
compared or trainning image by v2 from Fotolia.com

Compare companies. Each company provides standard services, i.e., tracking with keywords, brands, geography.

Some companies, such as Competitrack offer a FastTrack service, which is "...designed for advertisers and agencies that need to respond quickly to the changing competitive environment." Others may take as long as a few months to provide data, so your timeframe in needing the information is important to determine.

You may want to get weekly reports, so ask what the company provides at what cost.


If you hire a tracking company, be sure to get your agreement in writing–as with all service contractors. This will ensure that you are getting the service you requested. The tracking information should be delivered to you in written format.

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