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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: The Best Click-to-Buy App: Boosting DRTV’s Profile

20 Nov, 2009 By: Timothy R. Hawthorne Response


Timothy R. HawthorneIf current media reports are correct, the next time I suggest to my wife that I really need some nifty new product I just saw on TV, I won’t hear her ask “Why?” I’ll hear my TV blurt, “Excellent! We have an app for that.”

The technology to make TV screens interactive — or at least clickable — improves every month. From the valley of dwindling revenues, TV and ad execs are enthused about this potential new moneymaker. The early prototype is RFI, or “Request For Information.” Because cable companies, telcos and satellite providers associate physical addresses with set-top boxes, a single remote click can trigger the arrival of a brochure or coupon. Though it provides qualified leads, this tactic leaves too much money in the sofa cushions’ cracks. Since a viewer’s click is a response DR advertisers seek, why settle for a lead when you could instead make a sale? If selling cars, information is mandatory prep work. But for traditional DRTV household conveniences, “Click-To-Buy” (CTB) apps are far preferable.

Just as consumers embrace DRTV products that make their lives easier, they’ll flock to TV apps that do the same thing. CTB apps are even easier than those you install on your iPhones. Delivered via set-top box, they require no installation — just a thumb to click the remote. And by promising quick product delivery, they offer genuine utility, saving shoppers trips to the phone, Web or stores.

Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of proposed products ever see the airwaves, and a smaller share make the millions we seek. Proposed CTB apps will suffer similarly. For a handful to thrive, we may need to dream up several dozen. In this spirit, here are four broadly defined models that may merit exploration — each of them possible with technology presently in the pipeline:

1. Embrace windows. In storefronts, windows showcase promotions; on computers, they enable multi-tasking. Television windows would do both. Viewers could shop in a picture-in-picture, or picture-alongside-picture, without interrupting the program from which they clicked.

2. Enable brand advocacy. With tele-blogging apps, viewers could discuss what they’re watching in on-screen sidebars. Advertisers who permit such open discussion show confidence in their products, and could employ clearly identified staff members to answer technical questions.

3. Automate upsells. Viewers who network their sets, or receive TV and Internet from one source, will have the online connectivity that would allow TV advertisers to implement click-to-Web apps that expand focus from one product to many — and could keep buying simply by utilizing set-top box data.

4. Leverage content. CTB apps could revolutionize programs already employing product placements. Showing a sales price during a contest on “The Price Is Right” would not only engage viewers’ interest, it could sell featured products on the spot.

If you’re thinking these proposals favor brand products more than DRTV products, you’re employing a false dichotomy. DRTV is defined by techniques and tracking, not product categories.

If brand-name clients embrace our old methods as we invent new deployments, that’s one direct response we all should invite. Then perhaps our 25-year wait for true interactive “enhanced” TV advertising will be a reality.

 

 Timothy R. Hawthorne is founder, chairman and executive creative director of Hawthorne Direct, a full-service DRTV, print, mail and digital ad agency founded in 1986. A 35-year television producer/writer/director, Hawthorne is a cum laude Harvard graduate.

 


About the Author: Timothy R. Hawthorne


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