How to Successfully Air Your Commercial on TV: A Step-by-Step Guide for Canadian Companies

October 23, 2023
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You have a product or service that you offer and you’d like to create a television commercial to promote it. But what does it take to get your commercial on air? Here are the steps involved in taking your commercial from concept to broadcast!

ThinkTV Clearance

Before you begin production, you’ll want to be sure you meet all of the guidelines for putting your ad on TV. These guidelines are standards and requirements which must be adhered to when producing commercials, infomercials and/or public service announcements in Canada. The guidelines are to protect viewers from images or representations in advertising that may be objectionable to some audiences.

Presidents Choice TV Commercial

ThinkTV works with advertisers and agencies at each step of the way to ensure broadcast advertising meets the standards. It saves a lot of time and money to determine this before you start the production process. For example, you can send ThinkTV the advertisement storyboard to receive pre-approval before going into production. But keep in mind even if ThinkTV has provided preliminary script or storyboard approvals, the final production must still be reviewed before Clearance numbers can be issued.

Here are a few examples of the guidelines your ad must meet:

Safety Protective Gear in TV Commercial

Health & Safety: Be mindful of public health and safety when creating your TV commercial. For example, people should wear the appropriate protective gear when operating machinery or using tools and equipment. You may have to add words like “dramatization only” to your commercial if portraying unsafe acts or a stunt performed by a professional.

Moral, Legal & Ethical Issues: Commercials must not encourage illegal activity, inappropriate behaviour or bullying.

Violence: Commercials must not depict scenes of violence. Even when used for comedic purposes, ThinkTV may still deem something too violent like hitting someone or throwing objects at a person.

Pur Gum TV Commercial

False & Misleading Ads: Broadcasters must meet the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics on advertising. This ensures each advertiser meets the necessary ethical business standards and provides truthful, full and fair information.

See all of the guidelines here.

Specifics of the Ad

Now that you’ve received pre-approval and are ready to go into production, be sure to know the specific requirements of the TV spot.


There are rules and regulations around the loudness of TV commercials and television programming. In order to keep them at a consistent volume, and not startle viewers when a TV commercial comes on, or they switch between channels, there is a set range of volume that advertisers must adhere to.

“Canadian broadcasters and television service providers (e.g., cable, satellite, and IPTV providers) must follow international standards for measuring and controlling digital television signals and must ensure that TV commercials are broadcast at a similar volume to programs.”3

In Canada, we conform to the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) A/53 standard. The standard loudness level of audio is -24 LKFS.


There are different lengths that TV commercials can be based on the station’s requirements. A typical TV commercial length is 15 seconds or 30 seconds. Some time-slots are as short at 10 seconds, while others may extend to 60 seconds. They have allotted time-slots so you have to be sure your TV spot is exactly the right length to fit into their schedule. If you are off by one frame your commercial is rejected.

Swiss Natural TV Commercial

Telecaster Approval

Once your commercial has been finalized, it must be reviewed for final clearance. A Telecaster approval number will be issued when a commercial has received ASC (Advertising Standards Canada) approval and when the message complies with all other Telecaster Services Guidelines.

Media Buying

Media buying involves negotiating with TV networks, selecting the time slots, and agreeing on the terms of the deal. Each channel has different pricing, types of viewers and reach. It’s essential to have a thorough understanding of your target audience to optimize the timing and placement of your commercial.

Cold Sore FX TV Commercial

Ad Submission

Once you’ve secured your media slots, you’ll need to submit your commercial to the TV network or channel. Ensure your ad meets their technical specifications and requirements, such as video format, length, and resolution.

Ad Trafficking

Ad trafficking for TV commercials is a critical behind-the-scenes process that ensures the seamless delivery and broadcast of television advertising campaigns. It requires coordination between ad agencies and TV networks or channels to make sure that commercials reach the appropriate stations/networks and are technically and legally compliant. The accuracy and precision of ad trafficking are essential for the success of TV advertising campaigns. You must go through an ad trafficking agency to get your commercial on air. Certain companies like Extreme Reach will offer additional services like closed captioning that is also necessary for broadcasting.

Here are a few of the roles an ad trafficker can take:

Philips TV Commercial

Technical Setup: Ad trafficking for TV commercials involves preparing the technical components needed for broadcasting the commercial. This includes encoding the commercial in the correct format and ensuring it meets the technical specifications and quality standards set by the TV network or channel.

Scheduling: TV commercials need to be scheduled to air at specific times and on specific dates. Ad traffickers work with the network or channel to determine the time slots during which the commercial will be shown. This can involve considerations like prime time, late-night, or other time slots that align with the target audience.

Delivery: Ad traffickers ensure that the commercials are delivered to the TV networks or stations. Sending your commercial well in advance will help reduce costs. Years ago delivery involved tapes being made and couriered, however these days the network most often will have a portal where the spots are digitally delivered.

TV Commercial Rotation: TV networks often have various commercials to air during breaks. Ad traffickers need to ensure that the commercials are rotated appropriately and that there is no overlap or scheduling conflicts.

Looking to make a commercial for TV? 5Gear Studios is experienced in each of these steps and is here to help you along the way. Contact 5Gear Studios today!


1. TV and Radio Advertising Basics

2. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards

3. Preventing Loud TV Commercials


5. A Status Report on Loudness Control Technologies and Standardization for Broadcasting

6. thinktv clearance guidelines

7. ATSC Recommended Practice: Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television

8. Extreme Reach Traffic and Clearance