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Direct Response Marketing

Net Gains: Connecting the Dots From Screen to Screen

1 Jun, 2013 By: Peter Koeppel Response

As today’s multi-channel marketer is well aware, modern consumers often require several touch points to make a purchase decision and – with increasing frequency – they are using multiple devices to engage in points of contact. Nielsen’s most recent report on dual screen usage notes that TV viewers are using their tablets and smartphones – the so-called “second screens” – with escalating regularity.

While 85 percent reportedly do so once a month, 40 percent are using these second screens while they watch TV on a daily basis. One of the activities they are engaging in is seeking information about products and services they see advertised. And, as the growing pattern toward more online sales suggests, they are then increasingly choosing to buy online. With consumers now largely controlling this digital dialogue, the analyses and tools marketers must now employ have not only become increasingly complex, but the effort to glean insight on this flow of engagement also remains a ceaselessly moving target.

Advertisers that use DRTV as a funnel to educate consumers about product and service differentiation may still employ dedicated toll-free numbers that can help pinpoint the effectiveness of their media schedule. But with three-quarters or more of their direct sales regularly coming through the Internet, efforts to track the origins of these results continue to evolve. Algorithms that track online response in relationship to TV airings can be employed that look at everything from the timing of response, historical response trends by broadcast network or station, and the geographic location of respondents in relationship to a broadcast’s origin, among other variables.

When a PC is used to research a product or service, it is relatively easy to then track that consumer’s behavior by using a cookie, and to retarget them by serving up relevant ads that will increase the chances of a sale. However, cookies are harder to place on wireless devices, so tracking that behavior can be more challenging.

Amongst these second screens, it is more likely for a consumer to buy using a tablet as opposed to a smartphone, where the size of the screen obviously lends itself to executing E-commerce with greater ease. According to a recent report from Forrester Research, about one-third of tablet users have purchased products online, while only 13 percent of smartphone users have executed a purchase using the smaller devices. However, with the introduction of the iPad mini, and the emergence of smartphones with larger screens (such as Samsung’s Galaxy Mega), the disparity between screen sizes is shrinking.

Several companies are trying to create new models that will enable marketers to glean more insight across these second screens so that advertising will be more effective and beneficial for both marketers and prospective buyers.

As more platforms for engagement, such as social networks and gaming, cross-pollinate across multiple screens, tracking this behavior may be achieved more easily. Increasingly, marketers are inviting consumers to log in with their Facebook accounts. And while Facebook does not reveal specific information about its user base, it does allow marketers to send ads to individuals across multiple devices. That explains why mobile advertising accounted for 30 percent of Facebook’s overall ad revenue in Q1 2013, from a baseline of zero a mere nine months earlier.

Meanwhile, Facebook has launched a new beta test initiative with Target called Cartwheel that turns a shopper’s smartphone into a sort of coupon file folder. Facebook users download the Cartwheel app and then can select discounts on products they care about. The coupon barcodes can be scanned directly off of their smartphone, and then the resulting purchases are posted and shared to the consumer’s Facebook wall.

Several companies that don’t have Facebook’s advantage are trying to use cross-platform behavior and its corresponding data to ascertain consumer identity. For example, Drawbridge Inc. sends cookies to both desktop and mobile browsers. It then attempts to triangulate behavior by tracking the same Internet address to try and identify a single, anonymous user. Similarly, Tapad Inc. delivers unified advertising on PCs, tablets and smartphones. It then analyzes cross-screen behavior to try to create predictive modeling that will enable marketers to serve up ads in a flow that is meaningful and effective, based upon consumer response to ad sequencing their analysis deems is working.

While privacy advocates will no doubt express concerns about these efforts to pinpoint consumer behavior, the public does enjoy a singular benefit from targeted advertising: relevancy. With so much information being disseminated with ever increasing velocity, targeted ads act as a kind of enticement – or reminder – for harried consumers looking for the next great thing.

As consumers increasingly see these devices as extensions of their identity, whereby they freely log into sites and willingly geo-track their own whereabouts, partnership with marketers – treated with balance and respect – should be a natural spoke on this evolving wheel of communication.

Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct, a full-service media buying agency based in Dallas. He can be reached at (972) 732-6110, via E-mail at or on Twitter: @DRTVBUYER.

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