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Direct Response Marketing

Response Advisors Forum: The Future’s So Bright?

1 Jan, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response

The members of the Response Advisory Board discuss the solid 2012 media marketplace and the challenges facing media buyers and planners in the year ahead.


With solid results during the first three quarters of 2012, the direct response television media landscape is enjoying its heartiest time since before the Great Recession of 2008. And, according to many members of our Response Advisory Board, 2013 looks to be off to an even better start.

Still, many different factors continue to put a strain on the role of the media buyer and planner in the DRTV world. Technology — from online sales to online video to the role of smartphones and tablets in the buying process, not to mention digital video recorders (DVR) and on-demand viewing — continues to expand, making the good old media efficiency ratio (MER) harder and harder to calculate.

“The media environment continues to change as technology changes and viewers have more choice as to what, where and how they consume their media,” says Richard Stacey, president and CEO of Toronto-based Northern Response Intl. Ltd. “Retail drive using gross ratings points (GRP) rather than MER is also becoming an increasing part of the traditional DRTV media buyer’s role.”

We turned to our Response Advisory Board of industry experts for our first quarterly edition of the 2013 Advisors’ Forum with a series of questions regarding the state of media buying. Here’s what they had to say.

According to Response/Kantar Media research, the first half of 2012 was a stellar time for both long-form and short-form DRTV media results. What do you expect from the results in the second half of the year, which will be reported in the coming months?

Doug Garnett, Atomic Direct: I expect the trend to continue to be superb for DRTV. First, the fundamentals remain excellent and continue to drive business for clients with power that far, far exceeds other options. Second, DRTV provides a low cost of entry into TV advertising.

Steve Heroux, Hampton Direct: In regards to short form, December bounced back nicely after a tough but expected October and November. There has been a good amount of inventory and results have been better than expected. The third quarter was by no means stellar for short form. Lack of inventory made it very challenging to reach budgeted results.

Peter Koeppel, Koeppel Direct: Results may have dropped off during third quarter as a result of the normal slowdown in the DRTV business during the summer and through the elections, due to tighter inventory, but lower rates and strong results in the last 60 days of fourth quarter should help offset slower performance over the summer and early fall.

Fern Lee, THOR Associates: As with the stock market going up in the first half of 2012, so goes the success of DRTV! The economy showed signs of recovery and consumers started spending again. The election and Olympics will affect second-half results. These two events always create a precarious juggling of media schedules and results. Add to that Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, and the state of affairs of the nation was in disarray. The second half of the year will not mirror the first half and that results will provide a very different picture.

George Leon, Hawthorne Direct (responding for Tim Hawthorne): We experienced strong performances in third and fourth quarter of 2012. Rates were lower in Q3 — the lowest rates all year — which helped campaigns maintain or improve their results. Fourth-quarter noted rate increases higher than average due to an influx of supplemental healthcare provider campaigns as well as strong retail-driving campaign presence. The impact of politicals was minimal and focused primarily in local spot spending in key political states, keeping short-form rates in line and allowing stronger performance. Long-form media performance was steady and strong in third quarter, but impacted in Q4 as a result of major spending by Humana and seasonal campaigns with significant retail objectives, resulting in higher cost-per-runs.

Kevin Lyons, Opportunity Media/A&E Television Networks: The year 2012, in general, was sound for DRTV media results. The second half was strong but tempered somewhat toward the end of the year due to the election and the ensuing fiscal cliff discussions.

Mike Medico, E+M Advertising: We are seeing a bit of a turnaround in client activity for next year over 2012, so I am bullish. But I don’t see a banner year in 2013.

Rob Medved, Cannella Response Television: It was an atypical year. The first quarter started off slow due to the unseasonably warm weather in January. When winter finally arrived, DRTV marketers were eager to capitalize on the opportunity. That surge drove greater demand for media in February and March. The good news is strong consumer response continued longer into the second quarter, driving better overall performance for the first half of the year. Consumer response in the third and fourth quarters of 2012 was more consistent with 2011, yet demand for media was greater due to the political spending and heavier investment from non-traditional DRTV marketers (i.e., insurance marketers). Generally speaking, as consumer confidence and the economy fluctuate so does the DRTV media market. However, unique events like political campaigns increase demand and pricing for DRTV inventory.

Digby Orsmond, ARM Direct Ltd.: In the U.K., the advertising bounce effect from the London Olympics did not continue into the second half of the year and some financial indicators suggest that it had a negative effect on 2012 TV advertising spend. The biggest spenders on short-form continue to be the financial and compensation claims sectors, while in the long-form sector, the staples from marketers like Thane, Guthy-Renker and JML dominate.

David Savage, R2C Group: It will definitely be a strong second half of the year for both long-form and short-form. Even though results were challenged, and the Olympics, elections and Hurricane Sandy took their toll, demand remained high in national cable, regional cable and local broadcast.

Richard Stacey, Northern Response Intl. Ltd.: We expect it to drop somewhat due to lower summer months, lack of good products, and the presidential election.

What’s your outlook for DRTV media in 2013?

Jennifer Peabody, Havas Edge (responding for Steve Netzley): Consumer confidence will play a key role for DRTV marketers in 2013 as we face uncertainty relative to the economic outlook. First-quarter impulse purchases are still likely to have traction with consumers looking to improve appearance, health and family life. However, the opportunity is for service-oriented marketers offering simple solutions to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals to help ease financial stress and facilitate opportunity to succeed. The economic landscape is ripe for these to be evergreen advertisers of 2013, with the timely ability to build goldmine databases for long-term growth.

Garnett: DRTV will remain strong throughout 2013. I know that the digital hipsters will find it difficult to accept, but traditional offline media remains the only way to drive big change — whether product introductions or major brand change.

Heroux: There are several short-form campaigns running profitably on TV, which is a great sign for the industry going into 2013. Expect to continue to see plenty of good avails throughout the first quarter with great results. Overall, expect to see better results than last year — certainly no election will be a major contributing factor.

Koeppel: Based on 4Q 2012, I believe it will be a good year for DRTV. A combination of favorable rates and increased consumer confidence bode well. We experienced the softest November, in terms of rates, since the crash of 2008. I expect the marketplace to continue to be soft as we enter 2013, which should translate into improved performance/ROI for DRTV marketers. There will be times during the year when DR inventory will tighten up, but through careful strategic planning, most clients will have access to the type of media they require for their campaigns to be successful.

Lee: DRTV will have a huge presence in all 2013 marketing plans. First and foremost, marketers now understand that they need to have all the pieces of their marketing pie working in coordination, with DRTV being the driver for overall ROI — whether the sale comes from DRTV, digital or retail. Second, marketers have finally taken responsibility of driving consumers to their websites — whether to educate to drive to retail or actually take sales into their cart. Artificial intelligence is available both through social media and digital channels. Ads now populate based on viewer preferences supporting brand. DRTV will create the sale, while social media will support the subliminal messaging.

Leon: The outlook is stronger with greater emphasis on utilizing DR media — long- and short-form — to drive responses across multiple channels of engagement, including online and retail.

Lyons: I am cautiously optimistic for DRTV media in 2013 — optimistic because there are good signs in terms of results across the board, but cautious as uncertainty looms on the horizon, mainly due to the inaction in Washington.

Medico: The normal “ebb and flow” of rates and avails will stay the same.

Medved: The actual media space isn’t growing; it’s just fragmenting, so as an industry we are subject more to seasonal effects, hit shows and economic factors that drive consumer response in a fixed footprint. So it becomes difficult to predict. I would guess we will see slight growth. That said, we are on the verge of some exiting changes in the way consumers will be able to interact with content delivered via traditional TV methods. A more seamless and efficient interaction should lead to increased transaction. While we may not see any of this in 2013, it is coming sooner than most realize.

Orsmond: In the U.K., “product sell” short-form DRTV advertising in several consumer sectors is beginning to switch to what we refer to as BRTV (brand-response TV). These are 30-second spots that promote a URL to drive viewers with tablets or smartphones to visit a website and make a purchase — or in the case of JML, to drive viewers into retail stores. Classic “product sell” DRTV spots are being seen less and less on U.K. TV screens as direct marketers test new media opportunities.

Savage: Demand for time will continue to be very strong in first quarter, pushing rates up. Fitness will be a top player again for long-form. For short-form, we are expecting things to be fairly wide open rolling into the New Year. We think the week of January 7 will be the first indicator of how soon the market will start shifting and tightening up due to heavy demand, especially from fitness and diet categories. The back-half of January tends to be very competitive with so many DR marketers in place and, by the time we roll into February, we see general start to come back with larger weekly spends.

Stacey: We maintain a positive outlook that 2013 will be a good year for DRTV as the economy continues to improve.

What are the three biggest challenges facing long-form DRTV media buyers/planners?

Abed Abusaleh, Havas Edge (responding for Steve Netzley): First, the ability to track sales and leads that come in via the Web is a big challenge for the long-form DRTV space. Each year a higher percentage of customers are making their transactions online, and currently most Web attribution models are not accurate in determining which stations are driving the traffic. In some cases, as much as 90 percent of the revenue is coming in on the Web, which makes tracking the source of that customer paramount to successful media planning. Next, the increase in the number of people that are consuming their programming through streaming video or mobile has had a negative impact on the long-form space. People consuming their television via this format are able to select the shows and episodes that they like, which impacts the number of people that channel surf the way the way they used to. There has been a drop in response in daytime and overnight viewer levels, which has hurt long-form response levels. Finally, expendable income has fallen during the past four years, making consumers more hesitant to purchase higher priced items from television. Consumers have less access to and willingness to use available credit, and thus it has been more difficult for products over $100 to be successful on television. However, while it is a current challenge for the long-form space, it also represents the largest potential area of growth when things improve.

Heroux: There’s a lack of completely unique products being introduced. Marketers are testing fewer campaigns. Given the high costs of production and the decreasing rate of success, many marketers have cut down on the number of new campaigns being introduced. With high media rates and low conversion rates, media buyers are struggling to achieve profitable results for many campaigns.

Koeppel: An increased level of programming content on many broadcast stations is decreasing the half-hour opportunities available on those stations. Less inventory coupled with an increased presence of various local advertisers — such as car dealerships, religious programming and seminars that often pay top dollar — are making it more difficult for CPO-driven shows to compete for local time slots. Media fragmentation/overload and decreased consumer attention spans also make it more challenging for DR marketers to engage consumers long enough to watch a longer format show.

Lee: Price, performance and availability of good media time.

Leon: First, competitive spending is driving rates up from a few marketers who are driving retail or back-end sales. Second, drawing bigger TV household impressions to long-form without relying on channel surfers remains an issue. Third, finding unique and strong products to market that don’t fall into the crowded cookware, beauty, skin care and fitness categories are key. And, there’s one additional challenge: the reduction in long-form media availability as networks take additional half-hour paid programming inventory and convert to DR and regular programming as they work to increase their revenue.

Lyons: Inventory availability (a lack thereof); the ability to get proper credit for retail/online results driven by DRTV purchases; and realistic target goals based on the first two issues.

Medico: The three biggest challenges to long-form are: reading the test results for offers that appear marginal; maintaining a rate structure that will allow for continued profitability in a shorter period of time due to retail distribution coming sooner in the cycle; and accurately applying the increasing online and mobile response to specific media to optimize schedules

Medved: First, there’s an overreaction to supply and demand. A few timely misjudgments on anyone’s part can stimulate demand for media that is unsubstantiated and unsustainable. It starts a domino effect on the buying side, which we saw in September. After a few weeks we often see a reverberation in the market where demand for time is then suppressed because the media is over-valued in relation to response. Everyone in the DRTV ecosystem is affected by the volatility. The great equalizer is consumer response. It’s rare to see large swings in consumer response over the course of a few weeks. Next, the continued migration of phone orders to the Web makes attribution of low-volume avails a more difficult task. In response, marketers, media agencies and campaign managers are applying better analytics to source Web orders back to specific media. The longer-term opportunity is to integrate smartphone and tablet capabilities into DRTV campaigns. The phone has always been an integral part of the DRTV model, and there are new tools to adopt and adapt to help facilitate trackable transactions in addition to the 800 number. Finally, audience dilution — entertainment consumption is changing at an accelerated rate. More people of all demographics are using DVRs or IP-delivered content like Netflix to consume content on their terms. The millennials, in particular, are choosing to watch content through alternative channels to traditional TV. The dilution is making it more challenging to reach the target audience effectively and efficiently.

Savage: The three biggest challenges are: determining the impact of long-form media on Web and brick-and-mortar sales — the most successful marketers have attribution models and understand that the media does push these channels significantly; marketers with multi-agency strategies who don’t clearly define the assignments for each agency are artificially driving up rates; and, finally, it’s always a challenge to be innovating with product and also creativity so that the industry can attract new customers.

Stacey: The biggest challenges are that less people are watching television, people use the electronic programming guide (EPG) rather than surf, and the Internet has changed an impulse buy to a shopping buy.

What are the three biggest challenges facing short-form DRTV media buyers/planners?

Heroux: With the cost of manufacturing and production in China on the rise along with the Chinese Yuan, marketers are looking for lower CPOs and higher MERs to close the gap and run campaigns successfully. Media continues to be more and more fragmented, and finding enough inventory to run a campaign successfully is tough, as well.

Koeppel: First, it will be important to accurately gauge how soft the marketplace is going to be entering first-quarter 2013 and not overpay as 2013 media is laid in. Second, media fragmentation will continue to erode the ability of planners/buyers to reach their target audiences as efficiently as in the past. Finally, a growing challenge for media planners/buyers will be assessing the impact of warming weather patterns on household viewing levels and results.

Lee: Matching demographic data to stations for strong ROI performance is crucial. Second, we need to be attentive to corporate entrance into the market place, which often causes false inflation of prices. We also need to look out for further reduced clearance of two-minute time on the networks

Leon: The three biggest challenges we see for short-form DRTV planners are: maintaining cost-effective clearance rates as a result of more “brand” campaigns utilizing DR media; rate increases despite reduced viewership; and strong automotive spending in local markets pushing brand advertisers to national cable, thereby increasing rates.

Medico: The three biggest challenges to short from are: the shorter timeframe of products from direct response to retail; how to manage media under shrinking allowables; and inconsistent avails and rates over the flights. I’ll also include a fourth: accurately applying the increasing online and mobile response to specific media to optimize schedules

Orsmond: ARM Direct is often approached by U.S. advertisers to help launch their DRTV products in the U.K. The challenge we often face, however, is that several successful U.S. “product sell” sectors cannot be advertised in the U.K., as these are disallowed by Clearcast (the U.K. broadcast regulator). Clearcast regulates all television advertising in the U.K., and U.S. advertisers often find the strict rules relating to content, testimonials and supers difficult to implement post production. The biggest challenge, therefore, remains whether TV creative can comply with the much more stringent European TV broadcasting rules in each country. Quite often this means having to soften the sell or considerably alter the bonus offers according to the local regulations. Also, whole product categories are banned on European TV. For example, it is still not possible to use DRTV spots or infomercials to sell weight-loss or vitamin supplements or alternative health remedies in the U.K.

Peabody: DRTV media buyers will need to be aligned with marketing objectives that extend beyond traditional KPIs so that media can be evaluated and optimized with a line of sight to cross channel impact. Second, in order for buyers to optimize media across these multiple KPIs, visibility to data will be key. This has been a challenge for marketers to streamline at a micro level but is an integral component for buyers to be effective in driving profitability. Lastly, as the lines between “general” and DRTV advertisers become more blurred, inventory is impacted with more pressure on DRTV buyers to meet client goals week in and week out. Buyers cannot treat media as a commodity. Relationships will be key to maintain and grow between buyers and stations. In the absence of that personal connection, buyers become order processors, which stunts creativity — a key component to driving a successful DRTV campaign.

Savage: With more networks becoming Nielsen-rated to help grow their general ad sales, this takes away from DR inventory (or increases rates) so the need for finding new and emerging networks is always there. Next, as the trend continues for more general advertisers to turn to DR for various initiatives, we see these campaigns create shifts in the marketplace, mainly driving rates up and at times utilizing dayparts or stations that have been more traditional DR-focused. Third, lead-gen campaigns for financial services can really impact the marketplace when they come in early in the week with additional scatter dollars and preempt DR. That can be very challenging, especially when we are managing retail-driving campaigns that need that higher profile media at aggressive CPPs.

Stacey: It’s hard to find and capture the right audience, fewer people are watching TV, and it is getting harder to cut through the clutter.

How much is the expansion of the DVR/on-demand/over-the-top (OTT) content universe affecting DRTV media today? How about three years from now?

Abusaleh: There’s no way to quantify the impact that DVR or on-demand has had on the space. Several factors during the past three years have had both positive and negative impacts on the business, of which DVR/on-demand is only one. There is no doubt an impact, however, and as that space has expanded, the long-form response level by time period has most certainly contracted in the same time frame. What is almost impossible to determine is what percentage of the drop is associated with DVR/on-demand versus the recession, online content consumption, or the dilution of the audience created by the increase in the number of available channels.

Garnett: Today, we’re only seeing good impact. Studies show that DVRs have increased TV effectiveness. There are many reasons for this. Before DVRs, consumers mentally skipped a large number of ads. Now, they can skip those ads with the DVR, but must be paying attention to do so. And, when they encounter that one ad they care about (out of every 200 or so they see), with the DVR they can rewind and re-watch or show it to a spouse or someone else. If I had my preference, DVRs would be the delivery mechanism of the future rather than these other options — they are great for consumers while continuing to support TV economics better than the options. Both on-demand and OTT primarily act as Internet-delivered substitutes for the video store (yes, before streaming we even used the video store to rent reruns of “Breaking Bad”). On-demand remains behind in the race to gain eyeballs because it has been poorly promoted by the MSOs and it remains a last place option for viewers. So-called OTT is more complicated — partly because prime OTT services like Netflix are available in the DVR. What about three years from now? Fundamentally, there will be far less change than the industry of television disruption pundits are shouting. Yet, there will be change. The bulk of viewers that technology siphons off will be those that were never part of why TV advertising paid out. That said, some other viewers will siphon off as well. Will that cause the destruction that changes wrought in newspaper? I don’t think so. Newspapers are dying off because of an Achilles heel — dependence on classified ads for profit margin. Craigslist eliminated all that revenue in a very short period. Newspapers are in bad shape because they had an unstable business model based on the classifieds. TV is far more stable — in part because networks have been “aggregators” since the beginning, with aggregation being the magic role that Internet gurus think they discovered.

Heroux: It is certainly starting to affect the results negatively. As the population continues to age (the demographic of many campaigns), they too will be looking for instant gratification and will want to watch what they want and when they want.

Koeppel: This is something that is almost impossible to quantify, but here is what we do know: Nielsen reports that time shifting by way of the DVR has increased in 2012 over 2011 and the trend is clear. Nonetheless, sports, news and competitive reality television continue to lead programming watched live because there is a sense of immediacy about it. These are all categories that short-form DRTV advertisers can run in, albeit on a run-of-schedule basis. Since more viewers are using the search screens they can navigate with their remote controls, long-form programming can now be listed, along with other offerings — and frequently it is. In this case, the paid program is the “show” and, in some instances, serves as a destination for viewers, versus something that they stumble upon channel surfing. Finally, home shopping is happening in real time. The live aspect of it and the way in which home shopping creates scarcity draws viewers because it is happening now. That explains why it remains an enduring category of DRTV, despite the changes in consumer TV viewing habits.

Lee: I believe that DVR/on-demand/over-the-top (OTT) will affect branded marketers more than short-form DR and infomercial companies. Most DRTV airtime is not showing in prime time when most DVRs are working. The on-demand marketplace will open up new sources of media eyeballs for the DRTV marketer if priced correctly as part of a marketing plan. It is safe to say that within 36 months, viewers will decide when to watch what they watch and “channel surfing” will become more obsolete.

Leon: This platform is not impacting DRTV media since consumers most often engage in it for entertainment purposes. Any DR execution in this platform is still negotiated as per-inquiry (PI). We have not experienced scalable performance in this category and predict that pre-roll or video content online will have a bigger impact with a strong offer or incentive to engage.

Medico: Currently, I don’t see any significant impact on response rates. I don’t like to predict that far into the future, but it seems that DVRs, etc., are mostly for prime time programming, so DR should be safe.

Medved: It’s difficult to assign a value to the effects of evolving technology, but it is safe to say that the trend is not a fad. Just ask any teenager to describe “normal” viewing behaviors. A new normal is emerging.

Savage: DVR/on-demand platforms may have impacted long-form more than we think. Because of electronic guides, there is less channel surfing nowadays, so audience may be less. Titling is becoming more important for generating response as our clients try to differentiate themselves from the clutter.

Stacey: On-demand and DVR options are affecting DRTV today and will continue to affect it as less people are watching programming in real time. More people are viewing on demand and, as a result, it makes it especially hard to make long-form work.

We have heard for years just how these things are going to challenge DRTV media buyers. Let’s turn that question on its head: what opportunities do this new era of content consumption offer DRTV marketers?

Garnett: The question isn’t content — the real issue at this point is finding some way to leverage effective viewing of content. And the advocates of content marketing aren’t discussing this much, because there really aren’t good answers. Our industry excels at creating sales-oriented and effective content. But it’s extraordinarily difficult to get large numbers of people to watch it. And here’s a funny thing: DRTV is one of the best paid-distribution venues for content. In fact, at this time it’s one of only a handful of ways (all in traditional media) to drive content viewing by consumers (others include long-form print advertising and direct mail). In truth, it’s my experience that the general advertising content promises are a Trojan horse — a clever name ad agencies use to create a constant need for their teams. But take care: none of them can create viewership for content that drives sales.

Heroux: As consumers are put in the driver’s seat with the content they wish to watch, marketers are using more new platforms — such as online social media and marketing — and with one click, these consumers will have access to view your campaigns thus bringing instant gratification.

Koeppel: First and foremost, the two biggest advantages of DRTV remain unchanged — longer lengths of time to articulate product or service superiority and cheaper media. Let’s remember that brand advertisers face similar challenges, but their spots are even shorter at 10 to 30 seconds and therefore can be fast-forwarded past much easier. Some remotes, for example, have a 15-second jump button! At 60 to 120 seconds and with half-hour infomercials, DRTV advertisers have a much better shot statistically at grabbing a consumer’s attention simply by virtue of our longer lengths. The real paradigm shift is that we moved from advertising as an interruptive model, to a large extent, into one that is participative. There is still no substitute for TV in terms of its mass reach and power to grab people’s attention and although there is no question we are now in a multi-channel and multi-device world, it is still often the most powerful conduit for feeding the other channels. Audiences are increasingly tribal, but in order for them to be a member of a marketer’s tribe, they have to know about you. There is still nothing quite like DRTV for achieving that aim on a mass level.

Lee: Content is king! The consumer is now watching content less and less through the traditional TV set. The consumer watches through: laptop, smartphone, tablet, DVR, etc. The key is for marketers to wrap themselves around these new opportunities in their marketing plans.

Leon: We have to utilize DR as a teaser in the engagement of a consumer — use DR to generate a lead or interest and direct them online for more information, greater discounts, special offers and incentives, more testimonials. All communication or messaging should direct consumers to engage in chatter, blogging and championing a product or service. Ten years ago, we relied solely on a marketer driving a message to a consumer. Now, a consumer will often listen more to others’ comments about a marketer.

Lyons: What the past has shown is that new technologies present new opportunities. Through the technological innovation that has occurred, the DRTV business has grown by leaps and bounds! Clearly, there are lots of unanswered questions that only time will answer, but my money is on DRTV remaining a powerful and successful sales tool.

Peabody: Emerging trends relative to consumption of media vary by target demo so it is important for DRTV advertisers to know their customers and how to reach them. Targeted advertising through addressable TV, VOD, second-screen generation, augmented television, etc., are sexy integration opportunities for DRTV advertisers. However a silo marketing approach would be counterproductive. Evaluation of the test structure, cost of entry, minimum commitment, scalability and measurement of performance are important to define as these opportunities are likely to impact multiple marketing platforms.

Orsmond: Let’s instead ask what it is about traditional DRTV advertisers that they are so slow to embrace new media trends? Recently we have been encouraging all of our DRTV short-form advertisers to add online video to their marketing mix. During 2012 we’ve had tremendous success with online video especially within the all-important 24-45 age groups. Now, online video advertising in the U.K. sits at roughly a third of the value of cinema advertising and all indicators point to a continued explosion in growth. It is predicted that we’ll soon witness online video advertising becoming the biggest audiovisual advertising channel, second only to TV broadcast. Indeed, 11 percent of airtime buyers are now allocating more than $150,000 for each of their online video campaigns. And, just as interesting, in 2011 almost 42 percent of the time U.K. consumers spent online included exposure to online videos, leading us to conclude that all direct marketers should now consider this media as an integral part of their above-the-line sales strategy.

Savage: We are definitely encouraging our clients to leverage their creative assets across multiple channels, especially online by capitalizing on social media opportunities (rich media) and through E-mail and CRM.

Stacey: The biggest opportunities are the increase in online buyers and how to best attract and harvest them with DRTV.

What two things can DR marketers do today to expand their media planning beyond traditional DRTV buys?

Abusaleh: First, work with an agency that has developed an effective Web allocation model with the ability to accurately determine customer origin by channel and time period. Making buying decisions with only phone data runs the risk of being tremendously inaccurate. Also, marketers should take advantage of the multiple channels available to them at the station level. Many network groups and affiliate groups offer a wide variety of options that extend beyond the traditional DRTV time buys. They offer product placement opportunities, on-demand pre- and post-show placement, and several other options that clients can package together with their DRTV media buys.

Heroux: There is a lot of effort going into PR and social media. Straight up TV/radio/print buying is often not enough to capture all the eyeballs needed to run a campaign successfully. For products sold at retail, successful campaigns need to spend some of their budgets for retail advertising, such as weekly flyers.

Koeppel: Work with a media agency that knows how to employ a brand-response approach to media planning/buying. This type of strategy combines the low cost, flexibility and campaign optimization/ROI focus of DRTV with traditional advertising metrics, such as ratings, in order to maximize results through all channels. The second thing is including network and syndication in media plans, to attain broader reach than a typical DR national cable buy.

Lee: First, use the Internet, including artificial intelligent ad play, banner ads and on-demand ads. Also, hybrid five-minute spots are worth considering right now.

Leon: Marketers need to accept DR media as the first of a two-step sale or engagement process. Marketers also need to offer unique offers beyond just “Free Trial,” “Free Shipping and Handling” and “Rush Delivery” gimmicks that most consumers are already familiar with. In addition: keep it fresh, constantly change up the media mix to avoid burn out.

Lyons: Marketers must explore digital enhancements to all major DRTV buys that can drive additional response and expand their brands.

Medico: Identify non-traditional DR opportunities in network and syndication; and, for certain marketers, sponsorships of movies or programming can be very effective.

Medved: Continue to leverage social media opportunities, built on a foundation of strong customer service and quality CRM strategies. There are countless studies that confirm a referral from a friend is more effective than any form of marketing communication. Fortunately for DR marketers, they have the ability to develop 1:1 relationships with their consumers and mobilize them to become brand advocates. Second, it’s still early in the process but opportunities exist for DR marketers to integrate first- and second-screen communications.

Orsmond: Online video advertising is a given. However, we also recommend using shorter length BRTV ads to help drive website traffic as these not only support the brand in an innovative manner but can also add a new dynamic to existing TV campaigns. We’ve recently used highly creative BRTV ads to successfully launch a new teenage cosmetics line for a long-established U.K. brand, driving huge numbers to their website and Facebook page. In addition, we often use BRTV tactically for seasonal or stock clearance promotions, again with the core message being to drive web traffic. In the U.K., our BRTV ads are either 30 or 40 seconds, as this length allows us to maximize OTS and ROI in a shorter timeframe — often achieving better sales results than were previously achieved using traditional off-peak DRTV media only.

Savage: Depending on the target audience, there are a variety of channels to test and run — including print, radio and direct mail. Online and CRM strategies are also proving very efficient.

Stacey: Two new things some DR marketers are trying to expand in are the areas of social media and mobile marketing.

How can DR marketers best utilize the online video space to capitalize on their media spending?

Heroux: Online video hosting sites like YouTube are getting more popular for marketers to expand their viewership. It is not unusual to see popular campaigns with more than 100,000 views — and some with over 1 million views. With consumers spending more time online — whether it be on a computer, tablet or mobile phone — marketers need to reach their consumers.

Koeppel: Currently, many DRTV advertisers simply stream their short-form commercials but leave off the toll-free numbers or, in the case of a long-form advertiser, they stream the call-to-action. It’s almost as if marketers are using video in a kind of “on-demand” mindset — like all the audience wants to do is re-watch the commercial they already saw on TV. The online audience is looking for information that will help them make a buy or no-buy decision, yet as an industry I don’t think we’ve optimized the use of video to reflect what it is our audience is looking for. For example, a marketer could serve up a unique and succinct summary of product benefits and features specifically for the online environment — what we would traditionally refer to as an offer-build in the form of “what you get.” The use of video online is really at its infancy, but what we do know is that people like videos that are short and pack a punch — that deliver something emotionally gratifying, such as a good laugh, a surprise, or even a shock. So the challenge is: how can we give them what they want and leverage it to convince them to buy and, ultimately, make our media buys more efficient?

Lee: The best use of the online video space is through a consolidated social media plan — remembering that your branding will take your message to the consumer while driving to your website to educate and provide ROI.

Leon: DR marketers must use their online space and video content to engage consumers in online chatter and create enthusiasm behind a product or offer. Updating video content with product usage, consumer testimonials, sweepstakes or special offer alerts will help recoup TV media spend a create long term ROI. This could also be a great platform to present new products, creating feedback with a consumer that will likely endorse it after they have seen it on TV.

Lyons: The savvy marketers are well versed in this space, where video is the clear winner for DRTV in the online space.

Medico: Other than to reinforce what has been seen on television, it is difficult to measure the impact of online video.

Medved: Web video offers DR marketers the opportunity to refine their targeting efforts, and the cost of entry is low in comparison to television. Content must be tailored to fit the media.

Orsmond: This question relates more to better planning when making any DRTV ad. For example, we always advise clients to consider other media options very early in the creative process. Website video, online video for YouTube, smartphones and Facebook should all be part of your marketing strategy.

Savage: Online video can be a challenging tactic to make work. As a first foray into online advertising, we recommend starting with a mix of search, retargeting and static banner ads, as they tend to perform better than video.

Stacey: One good option to utilize online video is to use targeted words to increase search optimization in conjunction with your TV and other media marketing.


About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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