Piecing It Together1 Sep, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response
The lines between DR and traditional agencies continue to blur as clients seek one-stop shopping.
What Clients Want
From their DR agencies, Hodor says clients are seeking efficiencies and accountability. After all, everyone knows that DR rates are traditionally less expensive than general rates, creating a sort of "bonus" for clients, especially in these economic times. Add in the ability to report how many people raised their hands to specific media airings by going online, to retail or a call center, says Hodor, and the model should become a no brainer.
"Agencies and clients are starting to see the positive light that DR brings, which is why it's the fastest-growing piece within the TV sector," says Hodor. "At the end of the day though, it's a case of clients demanding the accountability that DR brings to the table rather than trying to slip something by at a cheaper rate."
Garnett says a key consideration for DR agencies that are blending their talents with general partners is whether or not the creative strategies bridge across all of the media that the client is pushing into. "There are things that will work in print that don't work on TV, and vice versa," says Garnett. "You have to figure out how to work that line in order to effectively integrate the campaign, and create the most impact. If we can piggyback off of each other's campaign, then the sum of the parts ends up being bigger than the whole thing."
The best results usually come when the stars align and both agencies can work together to create a synergistic campaign. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. "Many times when agencies conglomerate, clients end up with mediocrity," says Garnett, who sees the biggest challenges surface when traditional agencies use their own employees to handle the DR component. "Where in traditional advertising you can get away with throwing a good creative team at the project and get the results you want, DRTV is much more sensitive and requires a more sophisticated approach."
More to Come
As advertisers continue to strive for accountability from their media investments, expect to see more of them adding DR to the mix. As evidenced by the wide range of companies now using direct efforts to generate leads, reach new consumers and build their brands, the DR medium is effectively going mainstream and forcing agencies to come along with it — whether they want to or not.
"First and foremost, clients want to measure the success or failure of their DR advertising budgets," says Hawthorne, whose firm has worked with dozens of major agencies during the past 15 years. "After that, clients' goals fall into two categories: immediate profit on every spent ad dollar or some direct sale revenues plus branding and retail sales lift. Major brand advertisers, who recognize the value of investing in branding, are the clients who can afford to opt for the latter."
According to Hawthorne, many traditional agencies still reach out to the specialized DR agencies, bringing them in as partners, sharing in fees and commissions and achieving success in the process. Whether the relationship works or not, he adds, "all depends upon whether the traditional agency staff can check their egos at the door and allow DR specialists to do their job. When they do that, everyone wins — especially the client."
Hodor also sees more blending of DR and traditional agencies ahead. Television is changing rapidly with interactive applications such as Ensequence, video-on-demand (VOD) usage, mobile applications and addressable media taking shape in companies like Navic and the much-publicized Project Canoe. As the media/TV world becomes not only more targeted, but also more interactive, he says the growth of consumers' ability to interact with brands directly from their remote controls is growing every day and will become the norm.
"Obviously, these interactions are a 'direct response,' and the DR industry is well positioned to take a leadership role within traditional agencies and clients moving forward," says Hodor, "to help define what their value will be to a clients' business."
Aramaki also sees no end to the trend that's finding more and more traditional agencies pairing up with DR agencies and/or attempting to offer the latter's services on an in-house basis. "I don't think the tide is going to change on this front," says Aramaki. "The trend is being driven by a mix of client demand and agencies' attempts to respond to that demand."