Set Realistic Expectations For Booking Commercials

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By Dallas Travers

When you first sign with a new commercial agent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling anxious about your booking ratio.  Fears around having to “book right away or get dropped” are often present, and those fears can actually keep you from doing your best work in the audition room.

I want to share a little story and some statistics about commercial bookings to keep in mind every time you go on an audition or start to feel pressure to book.

A Little Commercial Story

First of all, I love the commercial world because there are actually measurable numbers. Your agent will know exactly how many times she submits you, exactly how many times you go out, how many times you get a call back, and how many times you book.

Not too long ago, a client of mine signed commercially with one of the biggest, well-respected commercials agencies in the country. She was with them for a full year, auditioning three to four times a week consistently, but she didn’t book anything.

When her contract came up, the agency called her in for a meeting, and she was horrified. She thought, “They’re not just going to drop me, they’re going to drop me in person.” To her, it looked like a potential nightmare situation.

When they finally sat her down and expressed that they wanted to renew her contract for three years, her jaw hit the floor. They laid it all out, saying, “We don’t expect you to book in your first year. The first year is about building relationships with casting directors.”

They pulled up her numbers and showed her that her callback ratio was 60%. “We know you’re doing everything right,” they said, “and then it’s just about what flavor of ice cream the ad agency wants.”

Know The Numbers

Statistically in commercials, it’s said that you will book one out of your first 52 auditions. So, if you’re auditioning once a week, after a year you will book something.

After the first booking, that number gets cut in half, and you’ll book one out of every 26 auditions. If you’re going out a couple times a week, that’s a couple of commercials every year.

It’s important that you know these numbers and understand that if an agent agrees to work with you, they don’t expect you to book right away. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to hold up your end of the bargain, but there’s no need to feel pressure when you’ve just signed with an agent. If you’re getting callbacks, you’re doing everything that you can.

Respected as one of the entertainment industry’s leading experts, Dallas Travers teaches actors the career and life skills often left out of traditional training programs. Her groundbreaking book, The Tao of Show Business, has won over five awards including first prizes at The Hollywood Book Festival and the London Festival along with the National Indie Excellence Award. She has helped thousands of actors to increase their auditions and New York casting calls, produce their own projects, secure representation and book roles in film and television.

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