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Direct Response Marketing

Screens, Screens, Everywhere Screens!

1 Oct, 2011 By: Pat Cauley Response

From smartphones and tablets to digital billboard and in-store video displays, how can marketers capitalize on a screen-based consumer world?

“I think it’s brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television — but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.”— Steve Jobs

With Steve Jobs’ recent passing, it’s an appropriate moment to reflect on how influential the technological achievements he’s played a strong hand in developing have had on our lives — as both consumers and marketers.

Throughout history, technological innovation has continuously wowed and impacted the masses. These forms of media and communication have evolved and allowed us to connect in ways we never thought possible. Who knew that the silver screen would eventually be the TV screen would eventually be the computer screen would eventually be the laptop screen would eventually be the smartphone or portable tablet screen?

Though DRTV by definition tells us it’s describing direct response advertising through television, everyone knows that you can’t elicit a response from consumers if you’re not placing your ads where their eyeballs are. And if you’ve ventured outside the house recently, you’ll notice that the people surrounding you have their eyes glued to multiple screens besides televisions.

And while not even Jobs could 100-percent accurately predict the course our screen-based world would take, the emerging data doesn’t lie. Moreover, even if DRTV marketers could follow the road map they’ve always had to get to their final location, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have GPS and Google Maps on hand as well.

Google & Facebook Killed the TV Star

Forrester Research reports that U.S. interactive marketing spending is expected to reach $76.6 billion by 2016, comprising about 35 percent of all advertising — an amount equal to TV spending this year. These numbers further validate the expansion of marketing mixes far beyond the boob tube. But, in order for marketers to be able to fully capitalize on the various screens consumers are using to access content, they must think of their DRTV campaigns in a much bigger picture outside of television.

“When we were producing creative for the first version of the infomercial, we were very mindful not only of the value proposition, but that there were all these other content pieces that we could use — whether it was for educating the consumers, the website, YouTube. They’re obviously in the core of our show, as well, but that was something we were very mindful of repurposing from day one,” says Art Jacobsen, vice president of Fountain Valley, Calif.-based CarMD.

San Diego-based ITW Space Bag also develops its marketing campaigns with screens in mind beyond television. “We’ve developed a creative brief and platform that encompasses the entire positioning — the fingerprint or personality of the brand. And that becomes the foundation for everything we do either on television or through the Internet, social marketing, blogs, packaging or in-store screen promotion,” says Betty Jamieson-Dunne, Space Bag’s director of marketing.

Jacobsen agrees and contends, “In fact, we specifically didn’t just re-test the CTA for the Web. We’ve found out that it hasn’t been really effective to do that, to just pull a CTA out of show and throw it on the Web. The call-to-action sits within the show, so it doesn’t really do well without the rest of the context of the show. From day one, we specifically created content that we had targeted for release on the Web and the Web only. So, we have a lot of Web-specific content we produce that’s not so much focused on selling the infomercial, but out there to help build the brand and educate consumers.”

At Space Bag, individual creative for each medium is evaluated. “The offer may be the same, although we do test A/B splits on the Web, but we direct the execution that is conducive to the Web different than we do a social blog. So, it’s not just taking the TV commercial and running it on the Web. But the content and the emphasis and what we do for each channel is different and really specialized for the specific medium, the target audience they’re reaching, and the context in which they would be viewing it,” says Jamieson-Dunne.

If a consumer is intrigued enough from the television creative to go to the Web, chances are they’re looking for more or different information — or else they would have simply picked up the phone and ordered. “Particularly for younger consumers: Whenever they see an infomercial or anything on a TV show for that matter, they’re going to go to the Web and do research,” says Jacobsen. “There’s a reason they didn’t purchase from the television creative; they have additional questions. So, we try to focus on having that additional material available to consumers on the Web.”

And a nimble Web presence in today’s screen-based world certainly extends further than the product’s website and into various social media platforms. However, much like the website’s content should differ from the TV campaign, social media is deserving of unique, creative content.

“We never really went into social with an eye for monetizing or making profit off of it, but rather it’s about branding and having an interaction with your customer base. If there are customer issues or questions, we have a user community where people can go and get honest answers from other customers,” he says. For example, CarMD prides itself on its innovative used-car reviews and tips for frustrated consumers that find themselves at the mechanic over and over again.

Space Bag’s social media presence is also handled separately from its television campaigns, utilizing a more personal touch that shows extended usage of the product and tips. “It’s different content with different emphasis that’s not really ‘selling’ the product, but presenting it in a user-friendly way that is very socially conscious and really promoted by other women that are interested in organization and storage for their home. It allows them to hear from each other as opposed to the advertiser or marketer, so it’s a very different point of view than our website or our TV commercial,” Jamieson-Dunne says.

The inroads marketers have begun to make with the screens that showcase their E-commerce and social media strategies should likewise be further applied to smartphone screens.

But Wait, There’s an App For That

“Smartphones make up about 45 percent of our market now, and we’re assuming next year that will be more like 65 percent. The line between your computer and your phone is getting very blurry. It’s essentially a small computer now, and now that there’s more computing power, we can do a lot more,” says Jacobsen.

Like many DR marketers, Jacobsen hangs his hat on testing, and the same tactics marketers use to capture data via website analytics can be applied to the mobile arena. Since smartphones are innately mobile by nature, the geo-targeting opportunities that exist for personalized mobile video advertising on the go are ripe for the picking.

“When I saw that 8 to 10 percent of people were buying from a mobile device, and I’m not even trying, that’s a big market that I’m missing,” he says, referring to CarMD’s previous lack of a comprehensive mobile strategy. CarMD is now in the midst of launching an aggressive new mobile campaign.

“We’re designing specific environments for mobile. I’ll be honest — right now our content doesn’t look that great on a mobile device. So there’s a lot we’re doing now to clean that up and make a more mobile-friendly environment. We’re streamlining that whole interface and making sure it’s more user friendly so it has fewer screens, bigger buttons, easier selection,” says Jacobsen.

Space Bag says some of its buyers are coming from mobile, but it’s not as big as other campaigns with younger demographics. “Our site is mobile-enabled, but our target audience is a bit older, so therefore we haven’t been the first, early adopters of this emerging channel. Although, we see that it is critical, so we do have a mobile strategy. And we’re going to get even better and better at it, whether it’s with smartphones or iPads,” says Jamieson-Dunne.

In a world where 25 percent of toddlers have used a smartphone, according to a recent report from Parenting Group, Jamieson-Dunne’s premonition of younger demographics couldn’t be more on point. With these engagement numbers only projected to rise, DR marketers must work to make sure their online content is at the very least mobile-enabled for smartphones and hopefully compatible with the newer, budding screens consumers are now using to directly respond.

Tablet Time

When the iPad debuted in April 2010, it created an entirely new product category separate from a phone or computer. The tablet category hit the ground running and never looked back. Some estimates claim Apple may be on target to sell 28 million iPads in 2011. And while Apple is obviously the dominant tablet brand, research from In-Stat forecasted even more growth opportunities given price degradation and the emergence of new tablets from major consumer electronic companies like Samsung, Motorola, BlackBerry, LG and HTC.

Furthermore, In-Stat projects that by 2015, 65 percent of the U.S. population — more than 200 million consumers total — will own a smartphone or tablet device, significantly altering the future of video entertainment consumption — and, hence, advertising.

“We’re doing a lot of really cool things with the iOS (Apple’s operating system) that we’ll be coming out with in the next year,” Jacobsen contends. “We’ll be targeting platform specific and even device specific in some instances. Because to be honest, an iPhone user is different than an Android user or someone who uses an iPad tablet versus a Kindle — there are a lot of stark demographic differences among those consumers.”

For example, 55 percent of consumers who read a magazine on a tablet reported seeing or reading an ad on the device, while only 41 percent of those using an E-reader magazine app did the same, according to a new report from GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research. Even more interestingly, 23 percent of consumers who read a magazine ad on a tablet accessed a website from the ad, 9 percent viewed multiple pages of advertising content and 8 percent watched a video or commercial embedded in the ad. Conversely, less than 1 percent of respondents who viewed a similar ad on an E-reader took any of those actions, clearly illuminating the demographic differences between the two screens.

Similarly, Jacobsen does warn that taking direct response to the tablet screen is definitely a bit of an uncharted territory. “Unfortunately, there are not a lot of best practices or industry standards because it’s very cutting edge, so we have to rely on testing a lot,” he says.

The Great Outdoors … and Indoors

These days, consumers on the go have even more screens to engage with than their handheld devices, especially when behind the wheels of a car or shopping cart. Digital billboards, for instance, are essentially a direct marketer’s dream. “I love them because you can change the digital content very easily. That’s the flexibility they have over traditional billboards. You need to make allocations in your contracts and agreements so you can frequently update them, measure them and see what’s working well. If people are responding to the creative, you want to run with it; if not, you want the ability to change it on the fly and digital signage does that for you,” says Jacobsen.

In addition, in-store advertising provides yet another screen outlet for savvy DR marketers. Recent research from GfK MRI found that digital out-of-home video advertising reaches 61 percent of U.S. adults every month. More staggering, however, is that nearly 65 percent of those consumers said they were interested in the ads, illustrating digital out-of-home video advertising as an extremely valuable option in a DVR era where many consumers are likely to fast-forward through or miss your television campaign all together.

The expanding retail presence of direct response products coupled with this data supports the notion that further opportunities exist for marketers to reach their target consumers with in-store promotions, whether it’s one of Guthy-Renker’s Proactiv Solution kiosks or simply a digital screen video at a brick-and-mortar retailer.

“We’re in 20,000 outlets across the country, and we do use in-store consumer promotions. With one nationwide retailer, we’ve used in-store videos with major displays tied in with those videos that we’ve run for many years,” says Jamieson-Dunne.

Space Bag has also participated with other major retailers offering in-store advertising programs. According to Jamieson-Dunne, the opportunities for screen displays within retail stores are usually presented from the national chains themselves. However, she stressed the importance of using altered creative with these screens that doesn’t utilize a direct sales pitch, but is instead more of a brand-awareness spot close to the home location of where the product is being sold in the store. Given Space Bag’s 14-year history and continued retail success, it’s safe to say its in-store screen strategies have been working.

As with the other screens out there, the indoor and outdoor video trend only seems to be growing. Research from eMarketer found that marketers planning to include digital out-of-home video in their mix jumped from 65.3 percent in 2010 to 75.5 percent in 2011, and it projects it to reach 86.3 percent in 2012.

“We need to go where the consumers are, whether that’s the kiosk, website or digital signage,” says Jacobsen.

Regardless of the future screens that emerge in a post-Steve Jobs world, direct response marketers will always find success as long as they continue to innovate, test, amend and diversify their campaigns and strategies while solving a simple problem and fulfilling the needs of the consumer.

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