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Direct Response Marketing

Brands Flock to Short-Form

1 Apr, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response

The short-form production market widens its lead on long-form DRTV as more traditional branders continue to test — and succeed — in direct response.

Short-Form Explosion

As an increasing number of brand advertisers add short-form DRTV to their marketing portfolios, producers are continually coming up with new ways to maximize their clients' production and media dollars. Whether that means uploading a portion of a short-form show to YouTube, creating integrated campaigns that include other forms of media, or adding elements like DRTV radio to the mix, the overall goal is to gain more reach and attention through multiple channels whose main engine is the short-form itself.

The Cost of Spot Production
The Cost of Spot Production

According to Robert B. Yallen, president and COO at Inter/Media Group of Companies in Encino, Calif., and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board, brand-centric marketers are attracted to DRTV for its lower rates, longer unit lengths and DR elements. However, he believes that the majority of larger brands still have not embraced the industry, and are being held back by traditional agencies.

"The typical brands' agencies of records are threatened by a medium that they don't understand, are not willing to embrace, is much more labor intensive, and is able to accurately measure their creative executions and media plans," says Yallen. "What many mainstream agencies fail to realize is that the brand world and the DR universe can co-exist. In fact, every dollar spent on direct response is a brand dollar; it's just how you position the brand in the creative executions."

Last year, for example, Yallen's firm produced a 60-second spot for UbiSoft's My Word Coach. Designed to be more informative and demonstrative than the 30-second brand spot produced by the marketer's brand agency, the short-form creative centered around driving retail sales. "Results were excellent," says Yallen, "and the spot won awards, including a Platinum Ava Award."

When producing these types of brand spots, Yallen says his team focuses on a unified theme across all channels, and sticks to spots in the 15-, 30-or 60-second range. The spots must have the feel of a national brand, he adds, and as such are produced on film or HD video. The emphasis is typically on "creating urgency" and encouraging the viewer to buy through the direct channel (inbound telemarketing or Web).

Brand marketers seem to be enjoying the benefits of that "urgency," and are reaping the rewards of it. TransUnion Interactive of Chicago (Response, January), for example, finds short-form to be an efficient and effective way to reach a broad audience, increase brand awareness and drive immediate purchases of its credit and information management services.

"Short-form DRTV is the most efficient way for us to buy into the TV channel," says Lucy Duni, TransUnion's vice president of marketing. "Over time, we've worked toward refining a model for this channel." Duni says the company's overall goal with short-form is to drive consumers to a company Web site, where they can learn more and purchase the firm's subscription service.

TransUnion's objectives in the production process are threefold: create interest and desire; associate that desire with the brand; have consumers remember the brand and how to find the company on the Web. The challenge, says Duni, is getting all of that done in a short timeframe that doesn't allow the luxury of repeating a message several times during a 30-minute window (as an infomercial would).

"By establishing our brand and our main message in the short-form time frame, we're able to get the viewer to remember our name and visit our Web site, where the product features can be explained in greater detail," says Duni, who believes that DRTV can deliver a sophisticated message and build brand too. "It gives you the opportunity to extend your message and ask the consumer to respond in some way."

At Respond2 in Portland, Ore., CEO Tim O'Leary says his firm is developing more Web video components to go with every short-form campaign. "We may add an additional shoot day with our talent, and shoot them for the Web site," says O'Leary, who has also started doing more "Web only" short-form commercials, most recently for the site, which is run by the founder of The Sharper Image.

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