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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Imagining a Direct Response iPad App

11 Jul, 2010 By: Timothy R. Hawthorne Response


For advertisers, the debate about whether Apple’s iPad provides superior experiences to its iPhone or Macbook is moot. With close to two million iPads sold in the U.S. by the end of June — and more than 200,000 more units selling weekly — iPadders are a rapidly growing enough audience to target with advertising.

Apple agrees. That’s why it’s launching iAd — an ad network for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platforms. So advertisers are salivating, right? Not quite. Gasping is more like it, with Apple reportedly requiring early advertisers to part with a cool million or more. DRTV advertisers? Well, they’re nothing if not resilient and innovative — and they shouldn’t passively accept that the Tiffany price tag knocks them out of the iPicture.

We start with clear parameters. A DRTV iPad deployment must:

  • Be conducive to direct response staples like calls to action and response metrics
  • Appeal to consumers not purposefully seeking information about specific DRTV verticals like Snuggies, juicers, and home gyms
  • Enable a response mechanism as easy to complete as picking up a telephone or typing a URL

We must then choose between the two formats that seem viable: standalone iPad-friendly applications (apps), or traditional online deployments that look great and sell well when encountered during iPad-based Web browsing. The app approach — which can benefit greatly from word-of-mouth buzz — has the best home run potential, but also carries risks. First, Apple must approve any app submitted for distribution through its App Store, and it’s possible it won’t welcome applications it fears could take a bite out of iAd. The second risk is familiar: attracting enough viewers. Although DRTV offers hundreds of worthy products, few inspire the sizable audience identification that would justify a product-specific download. However much you love OxiClean, the product, will you really install “OxiClean, The Sales App”?

What might work are apps that leverage large product lines or cooperating DRTV companies. “As Seen on TV” is both popular and proven — by direct sales, standalone mall stores and increasingly prevalent retail displays. A broad-based app could position itself as the Bing of consumer product selection — a solutions provider that links to 60-second spots that include calls to actions and clickable sales links. Perhaps the app could invite frequent usage by including a daily shopping tip, delivered by an engagingly campy host. Dare I suggest “DR.tv”?

The safer approach is good old-fashioned Web browser advertising — but directed primarily to the sorts of applications iPad owners embrace, such as viewing TV. Imagine product-placement scenarios — you could envelope an episode where a Brady youth falls into a mud puddle between a pre-roll and clickable post-roll.

The pre-roll alerts viewers to stick around for the post-roll, which shows how modern mothers could solve Bobby’s mess quickly: with OxiClean. Best Carol and Alice as quick as a click? Who wouldn’t want to play that game? In fact, all online options are in play. So long as iPad users remain general Web browsers, every advertiser carries a back-door ticket to the ever-expanding wonders of (App)le Nation.


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