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Surviving the Tax Season Blues

18 Mar, 2009 By: Eddie Wilders Response This Week

If there are two words that every red-blooded American fears, they are: “tax season.” It’s that time of year where a person takes a very harsh look at their financial life and says, “Really? I only made that much?”

In the DRTV world, these two words are even more frightening to a client and an agency. Because the everyday customer is so worried about paying Uncle Sam, they stop doing the one thing that DRTV clients need them to do – buy their products when they see a commercial.

In a four-year study, the percentage of responses on April 15 can decrease more than 23 percent from the previous days. From 2005 to 2006 alone, response on the April 15 decreased more than 56 percent. These statistics certainly put a damper on enjoying the blooming flowers and the warmer weather. The weeks leading up to April 15 also show a steady decline in week-over-week response, finally bottoming out the week of tax day. But with this dark period comes a ray of hope. Starting April 16, response begins to climb back into a normal and manageable area as the second quarter continues, and the world seems right again.

Unlike other signature dates on the calendar, including holidays, viewership patterns remain fairly constant before, on and after April 15. The television viewer’s habits are not dictated by the threat of paying a huge sum of money to the IRS. Of the four years studied, the news networks are the only cluster to constantly show decrease in viewership on the April 15 compared to the six days leading into tax day.

Viewers leave Fox News, CNN and MSNBC at a 20-percent clip. Of course, the day of week that April 15 falls on can strengthen or weaken viewership numbers based on the strength of programming, but the numbers do not fluctuate as they do during the holidays. Since viewership numbers show little change, network rates are less likely to increase because of the day itself.

With everyone watching his or her pennies as the calendar changes from March to April, the impulse buy is the first to go. As tax season ends and the refunds start rolling in, response starts to pick up again. If you can hold out for a few weeks, your response rates will turn around and cost-per-order will return to the levels that make everyone happy.

Eddie Wilders is a media analyst at Lockard & Wechsler Direct in Irvington, N.Y. He can be reached at

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