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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: A Better 2013 Beckons DR Marketers

1 Dec, 2012 By: Robert B. Yallen Response


It’s been a challenging year for DR marketers, as 2012 started off with overpriced media and audiences becoming more fragmented almost on a daily basis. The less-is-more syndrome has been something advertisers and their agencies have been accustomed to dealing with for quite a long time. However, add the London Olympic Games and the presidential race that — according to Kantar Media — dumped more than $1 billion into the marketplace, and there wasn’t much available oxygen in the room!

Furthermore, during the past 10 years, the DRTV industry has gone through a transformation. It’s not the “Wild West” any longer, where you find a somewhat unique product, craft commercials that demonstrate all of the product’s attributes and benefits, and then throw it on the air.

In the second decade of the 21st century, consumers are savvier, and there is a lot more competition from a vast number of marketers that have entered our marketplace. All of this translates into lower response rates and lower quality of respondents. For product marketers, this means ancillary channels, such as retail, have become more important and relied upon earlier in a product’s lifecycle.

The average DRTV advertiser on national cable and spot market television spent 18.6-percent less during 2012 than in 2011. Total category expenditure is down 25.9 percent(comparing January-September 2011 with the same timeframe in 2012). At the same time, total advertising spending on national cable and spot market television has actually increased by a modest 5.1 percent. Most alarmingly, the DR category’s market share has slipped 29.5 percent, representing just 2.5 percent in 2012.

Even with the challenges and downward DRTV trend of 2012, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year. First, DR marketers will not be battling inventory shortages due to the Olympics and political advertising. Second, with unemployment still hovering at almost 8 percent and the looming fiscal cliff, a lot of general dollars might not materialize and upfront options are more likely to be exercised. A less-than-stellar economy is actually not a bad thing for DRTV marketers. In addition to more available inventory at more realistic pricing, many types of products and services do well in such an economy.

It’s intriguing to note that 120-second unit airings are up slightly from 2011 with no significant difference in 15- and 30-second units. The increase of 120-second units has come at the expense of 60-second spots. Many advertisers are of the misconception that 120-second units are impossible to clear and that you can’t build a campaign around them. If a marketer’s products or services require longer messaging, the good news is that two-minute spot lengths can still effectively scale to drive a campaign.

Our projections show that first-quarter 2013 rates will be down nearly 12 percent from 1Q 2012. And the cost-per-thousand (CPM) index will be slightly less at 10.5 percent due to fragmented media with deteriorating audience deliveries.

Advertisers should look beyond the comfort zone of traditional national cable networks as the driver of DR results. There are many emerging national cable networks that are priced efficiently and deliver solid results. DR radio is another option that many television marketers have been underutilizing. With solid offers, per-inquiry should be a part of all campaigns — and the best time to launch one is in the first quarter.

One of the strongest media considerations is garnering the power of unwired network plays. These media options offer great pricing from a CPM standpoint and acts as a hedge against other media venues from a clearance and diminishing ROI perspective. Often, an unwired network provides better CPM delivery than the national equivalent and allows for airing on higher profile networks that previously were priced out of the DR marketplace.

In short, there is great reason for optimism even in the face of the prevailing trends and a sluggish economy. Use all of the available assets at hand. Act quickly and buy smart. Think creatively and adapt to new opportunities presented by the market. ■


About the Author: Robert B. Yallen


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