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Direct Response Marketing

Editor’s Note: While Some Remain Down in the Mouth, Most DR Indicators Are Up

1 Jun, 2012 By: Thomas Haire Response

While Some Remain Down in the Mouth, Most DR Indicators Are Up

For much of the past three-and-a-half years, the direct response marketing industry has been fighting diligently to maintain its reputation as a “recession-proof” business — with varying degrees of success. While the DR world took a hit in 2009 — along with everyone else — it was quicker to bounce back, posting numbers in 2010 that were in the same ballpark as 2008 results, according to research by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

While the industry scrambled during that time, many in the business were certainly even more down in the mouth outwardly. The negative buzz — campaigns that just wouldn’t work, or media costs that were skyrocketing, or a lack of exciting new products — was heard throughout the DR space.

And while that kind of chatter seemed to last throughout 2011, new numbers — from the DMA, Response and Kantar Media — show that, especially in the second half of last year, things really picked up for direct response marketers.

While Response’s in-house numbers for 2011 long-form media billings showed year-over-year declines easing from 2010 and 2009, results in the short-form space (and overall) speak to a market that was breaking out as 2011 closed.

The DMA contends that total revenue for the direct response space (DRTV, DR radio and DR Web) hit $430.5 billion in 2011, a 12.4-percent jump over 2010, and nearly 10-percent higher than 2008 results.

Meanwhile, Kantar’s results were even more encouraging. While 2011’s overall ad spending was up just 0.8 percent, short-form DRTV ad spending was up 6.5 percent — and in the second half of the year, while short-form DRTV spending leapt 9.9 percent, overall ad spending actually dropped 0.3 percent and digital ad spending lost 1.7 percent.

But still, when you get out to an industry cocktail party, many of those in attendance are downplaying business. Are they playing possum? Or are other agencies, vendors and service providers capitalizing on this growth while long-time industry experts and leaders are moping around?

Certainly, new business appeared to be bustling at last month’s Response Expo in San Diego. Between the official event, which drew more than 3,000 attendees, and other peripheral get-togethers hosted offsite, there seemed to finally be a bit of a breakthrough. DR industry leaders reported a flurry of new business opportunities, and vendors swarmed the event’s bustling Inventors’ Pavilion.

Will the seeming momentum of 2011 continue, even with a number of troubling possibilities still hovering over a stagnant national economy — not to mention the expected barrage of political advertising as we close in on the November presidential election that is likely to make media time very tight?

One thing’s for sure: now’s not the time for the this industry’s leaders to continue to moan about the glory days of the past compared to today’s tougher landscape. Instead, it’s time to string together some motivational clichés. A positive outlook and aggressive effort will certainly help you about get your slice of what still appears to be a growing DR pie.

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About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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