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Direct Response Marketing

3Q 2012 Short-Form DRTV Billings Battle to Break Even

1 Feb, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response

A tight market drives costs up enough to keep total media billings on pace with a year ago, even with a 7.5-percent drop in total campaigns.


Many in the short-form DRTV media space feared a third-quarter 2012 freefall due to Summer Olympics programming across the NBC Universal family of networks and rising political spending as the calendar turned toward last November’s presidential election.

But, while some shied away from the market, causing a 7.5-percent decrease in the number of campaigns, the tight market clearly yielded higher premiums for airtime, helping the short-form DRTV market to a total of just more than $1.15 billion — down just 0.8 percent from 3Q 2011 results, according to data from Kantar Media.

These Numbers Do Compute

Seven of the 17 measured vertical categories reported gains in 3Q 2012, one fewer than in the same quarter of the prior year. The always sizeable “Drug and Toiletry” category was again the leading dollar gainer, with a jump of $67.3 million. However, the most impressive performance came from the “Computers, Software and Home Office” category, which saw the second-best jump in both total dollars spent ($38.4 million) and percentage gain (119.4%). On the lower end of the spending spectrum, the “Collectibles and Art” category nearly quintupled its total to $218,500.

Among the losers, “Household, Furniture and Appliances” had the toughest overall quarter, with the biggest dollar-on-dollar decline (down $65.5 million) and third-largest percentage drop (37.9 percent). The “General” sector suffered the second-worst dollar loss, dropping $31.9 million, while the worst percentage loser was in the “Food and Beverage” category, which lost more than 82 percent of its 3Q 2011 result.

Networked … in Spanish

Three of the five media distribution outlets posted gains in the third quarter, same as a year ago — but some of the winners and losers swapped places. Cable TV, which boasted the greatest dollar increase a year ago, U-turned to suffer the greatest dollar loss in 3Q 2012, losing nearly $56 million (and more than four points of market share). However, Hispanic network TV continued to boom, tacking on another $33.7 million in gains to the $81.6 million it leapt a year ago (and adding three points of market share to its quickly growing total). Network TV also saw a solid rise, gaining nearly $14 million (a 56.2-percent jump).


The number of total short-form DRTV campaigns aired decreased by 84, a 7.5-percent decline from a year ago. Subsequently, the average money spent on a campaign based on the total increased by 7.4 percent ($76,648) in 3Q 2012. Much of that increase came among the leading campaigns, as the average money spent on a campaign outside the top 40 fell $6,206 (1.4 percent).

No. 1 Newcomer

The top 40 included 21 new campaigns when compared to 3Q 2011, with newcomer Livariz edging Proactiv Solution to claim the No. 1 spot, with $70.6 million spent during the third quarter of 2012. No. 2 Proactiv Solution spent just less than $69 million, while 1-800-Contacts finished in the No. 3 spot with $42.3 million. SENSA at No. 8 and no! no! at No. 9, both big winners throughout 2012, were also “new” from the 3Q 2011 rankings.

With a powerful first half of 2012 now joined by a solid performance in a third quarter that many feared, early reports from industry insiders say that October, a traditionally poor month for DRTV media, was worse than normal due to political spending and rising media prices, but that the market stabilized into the holidays. If 4Q numbers can match third-quarter results — that is, stay close to even with 2011 numbers — 2012 will be the best year in the short-form DRTV media market since the 2008 economic crash. ■


About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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