European Flavor1 Jun, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response
With the Internet and technology in general continuing to chip away at traditional geographic boundaries, an increasing number of American DRTV marketers are spreading their wings and flying "across the pond" to get a taste of some of the success that companies like Thane, Guthy-Renker, ThermoSpas and Time-Life have already achieved in the region.
Always a big concern for companies looking to sell, generate leads and/or build brand awareness via television, the high cost and low availability of media time can quickly put a crimp in any DR marketer's budget. According to Orsmond, short-form airtime is available in all European markets, but long form isn't accessible in many European countries outside of the U.K., Holland and Germany.
Europe has seen a record number of new TV channels launch in the past five years, says Orsmond, as the number of "live" and infomercial home shopping channels has also increased markedly. In fact, recent research by Screen Digest confirms that before 2003, the growth in TV channels was relatively flat. "This has been followed by a sustained boom," says Orsmond, "the likes of which had not been seen since the mid-1990s, when digital TV services first launched in Europe."
According to Orsmond, more than 300 new TV channels were launched in 2005, with the proliferation continuing into 2008. The largest quantity of spot and infomercial avails are in the U.K. (population 60 million) due to its high number of satellite and cable TV channels.
Breaking the numbers down by market, Britain currently has more than 416 TV channels aimed specifically at U.K. viewers, and, of these, 47 are home shopping channels (compare this to Germany's eight home shopping channels). The next largest TV market is France with a total of 246 TV channels (population 64 million), followed by Italy with 206 TV channels (population 59 million), Spain with 108 TV channels (population 45 million) and Germany with 93 TV channels (population 82 million).
According to Chacón, the digitalization of European airwaves is creating more opportunities for the region's DRTV industry. In some cases, for example, new home shopping channels and additional media avails are appearing. In terms of content, Chacón says he's seeing more European home shopping, infomercial and spot productions, whereas, years ago, most of the content was sublicensed from American marketers.
"We're also seeing a great deal of experimentation of the traditional home shopping formats," says Chacón, who points to the development of home shopping auctions coupled with games using premium rate telephone services, as an example of that movement. "While there is no single company that is dominantly serving Europe as a whole, we're seeing country-specific companies consolidating their positions and getting better at servicing their consumers while at the same time increasing their respective sales."
U.K. Top-Spending TV Categories
The Tech Connection
No marketer can afford to ignore the Internet as a sales channel, and the DRTV player looking to break into Europe is no different. Branimir Brkljac, president at Studio Moderna Group in Slovenia, says that TV commercials in the region are often tied closely to online campaigns — an alliance that's sure to continue as IPTV (Internet-protocol Television) takes hold in Europe.
A system where a digital television service is delivered using Internet protocol over a network infrastructure, which may include delivery by a broadband connection, IPTV comprises television content that, instead of being delivered through traditional broadcast and cable formats, is received by the viewer through the technologies used for computer networks.
"This is an emerging trend that will soon bring the final conversion of Internet and TV," explains Brkljac, who sees the trend as both a blessing and a curse for DRTV marketers. On one hand it will enable Internet connectivity throughout households and allow for mass distribution of video. On the other, it will also enable a wide variety of new channels and programs, thus exacerbating any fragmentation that already exists within the European DRTV space.
And while online video and sites like YouTube are popular among younger European consumers, those that are most apt to buy DRTV products still prefer the telephone or E-commerce to make their purchases. Also popular — particularly in the U.K. — is the use of SMS text as a lead-generation tool. "This allows viewers to text a single word from their cell phones and have the advertiser call them back later," says Orsmond, whose firm has added the SMS text options for more than 80 percent of its clients' campaigns.
To marketers looking to make an impact in Europe, Orsmond points out that the EU is not a "United States of Europe," but that it is instead a group of 27 countries, all with very different consumer attitudes and broadcast regulations. "This can make getting started in each country costly and time consuming, and it's why we always recommend that American marketers launch in the U.K. first," says Orsmond.
Compelling reasons to follow Orsmond's advice include a 60-million-strong population, 93-percent terrestrial TV penetration, Europe's widest choice of TV channels, solid distribution networks (due to compact geography), TV audiences that welcome American products, the highest home PC and credit card usage in Europe, and the common language — English — there. "Get it right in the U.K. first," says Orsmond, "and you can establish the perfect springboard into mainland Europe."