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Direct Response Marketing

Navigating a Fragmented Media Universe

1 Jun, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response

Members of Response’s Editorial Advisory Board still believe in DRTV media, but the success of online and other direct response media options — and just how to measure it — has lessened their strict evangelism.

As online and mobile media continue to make inroads with marketers — and online and mobile purchasing does the same for consumers, direct response marketers have had to adjust their media metrics and expectations.
How those adjustments are happening — and whether they are forcing long-time DRTV experts to become more media “agnostic” — is the topic of the second quarterly edition of the 2011 Editorial Advisors Forum, where members of the Response Editorial Advisory Board discuss their viewpoints on hot topics facing the industry.

While media is fragmenting — TV, online, mobile — it’s all still advertising. Is success in any specific media outlet more important than success in any another? Which? Why?
Brian Fays, MTV Networks: In speaking to advertisers, everyone’s definition of success varies based on production costs, marketing expenditures and any other variable costs. TV remains the most relevant currently, but online — and its ability to engage the consumer — is growing experientially.

Tim Hawthorne, Hawthorne Direct: Despite the Internet hitting $26 billion in ad revenue in 2010, a recent poll of major advertisers indicates they’re still believers in TV’s dominant position in ad effectiveness. I agree. Nothing can compare to the impact of creative sight/sound messaging to a mass audience — all at once — and its ability to lift the impact of that message on all other ad channels. Once addressable advertising is perfected and in wide use, TV will be even stronger.

Fern Lee, Thor Associates: Media has been fragmented for some time. It is the coordination of using all of the pieces of the marketing pie that drives success. Creation of a branded experience that is professional, flexible and distinctive — and uses transactional marketing to create conversions — is the key to driving ROI. Integrating product messaging and maintaining a distinctive personality is important regardless of the medium: TV, online, mobile, radio, home shopping, international, print, etc. Creating information architecture that is easily navigable, organizes information and clearly brings all pieces of the marketing pie together — with functionality for product orientation, PR, education, cause marketing and E-commerce — is what drives revenue. At the end of the day, ROI is about conversions and best practices, not about which media drives the success.

Kevin Lyons, Opportunity Media: It’s increasingly important to achieve success in all media distribution channels. However, the scale of television is unparalleled. It only follows that the importance of success in television should be paramount to brands desiring large-scale success.

Mike Medico, E+M Advertising: In our experience, it is apparent that, while media integration is the best way to accomplish response goals, television is what drives everything. Our internal analysis confirms that levels of online and mobile response drop — in some cases dramatically — when a show is off the air. We have seen some successful Internet-only campaigns, but this has been limited to a few verticals in the lead-gen and beauty categories. For everything else, there is a direct correlation between success on TV and success online.

Greg Sarnow, Direct Response Academy: There is no question that TV advertising is still king. Every project has different goals and the nuances of attaining those goals is often more complex than just making a sale. Building brands, impacting retail and cost-per-acquisition models have been part of the direct response road map for many years now. Television is still the medium that has the greatest impact on a consumer product goods strategy. There’s no doubt that utilizing each medium carefully to build a multi-channel marketing plan is the future and no doubt the future is now. But the same videography that you use for TV can and should be re-purposed for online, mobile and new emerging technologies for the greatest effect.

David Savage, Cmedia: If you can create a successful TV campaign, it drives all other channels, especially online and mobile. It isn’t necessarily the case the other way around. The economics in television are that much harder, but if you succeed, you’re driving more awareness and education for your product and service more profoundly than you will in online or mobile.

Richard Stacey, Northern Response Intl. Ltd.: Your campaign objectives and the profile of the customer you’re trying to reach will help determine the success of your advertising and which media will work best. In our business, TV is still the main driver for products with mass-market appeal. TV also helps support online, print and other media. However, in many cases, TV can no longer do the job all by itself without being combined with other media.

Has fragmentation made you media agnostic? Or are you still an evangelist for a specific media outlet? If so, why?
Hawthorne: It depends. For a national brand, we proselytize for TV first, accompanied with strong SEO, and print/radio as necessary. For local or regional brands, radio may be more effective, or even the Internet first and foremost. For national brands, TV obviously provides an advertiser the widest audience, in a highly visual theater, to fully educate consumers about a product or service and initiate the selling process. TV is the force that can enhance brand awareness or make the direct sale or drive viewers online to research the product further or begin a mobile relationship.

Lee: The convergence of having all pieces of the media pie cross-pollinating is the key to drive successful ROI.

Lyons: I don’t consider myself media agnostic. I truly believe in the power of television to achieve success on a grand scale. TV is not bad word and video, in general, leads the pack in advertising. Advertisers are spending more money than ever on television, and television viewing is higher than ever before. However, before we get too caught up with which form of media is best, let’s remember that a screen is a screen, and we can interact with consumers in a variety of different ways. In that sense, all forms of media are important and complement one another tremendously.

Medico: Our planners are “media neutral” when they look at our clients’ goals and objectives, but understand that — where appropriate — integrated media is the best way to reach those goals.

Sarnow: Media buyers are always media agnostic. The world of DR is a world of never-ending testing methodologies. Once testing shows the best ROI, extrapolating data to scale is the name of the game. Fragmentation has not changed the game; it has just made it far more complex. As a result, only those media buyers that have a multi-channel approach and the staff to implement each channel individually will survive as fragmentation grows.

Savage: We look at each media channel’s ability to achieve success, and depending on the target market, the efficiencies and the results, that’s where we place the media. And nowadays, you have to be able to manage the interrelationship between television, online and mobile media interaction — because the consumer is responding in a way that demands it. But television is still generally the key driver.

Stacey: We are still primarily a DRTV company, but we now work through all media — including PR, in-store TV, magazines, radio, online, etc. We use a multi-media approach when planning our campaigns.

How has the expansion of different media outlets and total messages a consumer regularly receives changed marketing?
Fays: The ability for the advertiser to create a clever and valuable message to the consumer has never been more important. Consumers’ disposable income has been limited over the past few years, so in order for the purchaser to open up their wallets the message must be forceful, yet poignant.

Hawthorne: Two words: complex and pervasive. Gone are the days of four-channel marketing: TV, radio, print and out-of-home. We at least tripled those channels in the past decade with Internet display, E-mail, search, social, gaming, mobile, blogs/vlogs, product placement, eCoupons, in-store digital signage, kiosks, UGC, viral, virtual goods, Webisodes, word-of-mouth, affiliate marketing and white papers being just some of the new channels. Marketers’ jobs are 24/7 and in conversation with our consumers, who we try to reach at every point in their lives and work.

Lee: What has changed is the “traditional DRTV offer.” The end goal is to move product off of retail shelves or have a successful continuity campaign. The secret sauce in creating a branding initiative is to establish an action, which causes the consumer to act specifically to the targeted transactional marketing. This will entail using: DRTV, radio, print, public relations and social media, which are all important together for a branded message. Digital messaging has become as important as traditional touch points. In order to capture revenue and plan for future product add-ons, marketers must also create strategic workflow that can be easily duplicated for upsells and future product sales.

Lyons: The expansion of media outlets and the increase in total messages a consumer receives put greater pressure on advertisers to produce compelling and effective creative that cuts through clutter. There is also increased pressure on advertisers to effectively target the desired market through their media mix. There are a number of great choices in national cable to achieve results to specific market segments.

Medico: It has changed marketing in the sense that we no longer are able to determine exactly where response is coming from and the traditional mechanisms to track, analyze and optimize no longer apply.

Sarnow: Marketing has changed dramatically. Look at the evolution of Google and YouTube. Just five years ago, consumers started to look up a product or service in question and read everything possible about the product as part of the purchasing process. About two years ago, YouTube became a favorite of the consumer. Now we all go to YouTube when we want to know more about a product. Maybe we watch a video or two about the product; look at it and learn about it. It’s the next best thing to touching it, and we certainly learn more than just reading.

Savage: It’s made marketers realize that there are new rules every few months. You’ve got to be able to adapt your offer, your media mix and keep track of what your competition is doing constantly, or you can find your successful business is compromised very quickly.

Stacey: There are a lot of messages bombarding consumers so it’s important to be relevant and targeted. We spend a lot more time focusing on our customers, figuring out who they are, how we can reach them and how to do so in the most cost effective way.

How are marketers best integrating messages across various media to create a consistent story and consistent call-to-action?
Fays: At MTVN, we have taken part in consumer study groups to brainstorm ideas with marketers to better engage the consumer. Also, marketers have invested in hiring experienced, savvy minds to ensure the correct message resonates with the purchaser.

Hawthorne: When designing a direct-to-consumer campaign, we must consider all channels and media outlets that are appropriate for the product or service. We must identify all potential consumer touch points and create a fully integrated marketing program every time out, or else our client will be leaving sales and revenues on the table. Consistency in the product presentation, value proposition and offer is the key to making sure that the message to the consumer is reinforced at every touch point in the communication process.

Lee: Through a cross-pollination of effort, integrating messages can fit into a consistent story just as much as create a consistent call-to-action. Every touch point of the marketing pie is available for this effort. Consumers will be the recipients of reinforced messaging, and the inclusion of integrated messages will support branding initiatives for expected ROI. For example, the 120- and 60-second short-form and YouTube viral videos can include shots of B2B designated verticals to support the DR creative. Consistent and correct application of these elements across every point of contact increases familiarity, reinforces the experience, and builds and protects brand equity.

Medico: The most effective way marketers are doing this is by having the same look and feel of messaging across all media. In addition, mimicking the same ordering process — including upsell, downsell and cross-sell — have resulted in similar average revenues across all media.

Sarnow: Marketers are integrating messaging by re-purposing the videography they create and using in many formats. In everything from tape to live airing in international home shopping to social media and other Web strategies, the videography created is the cornerstone of the messaging.

Stacey: Developing a strong brand and a clear and focused USP (unique selling proposition) is more important now so you can have both a consistent message and a building momentum of that message across multiple media. It also takes more time to manage all of the different media and distribution channels so that the message and the offer stay consistent.

How can marketers best measure the digital and mobile impact of TV messaging? Or the mobile and TV impact of digital messaging? Or the digital and TV impact of mobile messaging?
Hawthorne: Measuring cross-channel impact: the marketer’s Holy Grail — but it remains undiscovered as of yet. As close as we’ve come is to gather all the hard data possible — ZIP code, IP address, cellphone number, geographic location — then extrapolate to demographic guesses. Only when people are motivated to opt-in with personal data will we truly be able to measure cross-channel impact. That’s the other Holy Grail: figuring out how to gather personal data from willing consumers, not covertly.

Lee: The $5 million question! The challenge must be overcome — having a strong CRM tool aids marketers in utilizing the analysis provided to interpret the overlap of the consumers using TV, mobile and the Internet. It is also important to incorporate the integration of customer service into measuring your messaging. Campaign management technology allows marketers to control and measure integrated digital marketing processes. By using all of these messaging techniques, a platform enables rapid A/B split testing and allows marketers to respond to the measurement by changing the integrated campaign for increased ROI.

Lyons: Clearly a lot of work still needs to be done on this front. Major companies like Nielsen are hard at work trying to effectively tackle this increasingly important need for advertisers. As we continue to gain experience in both digital and mobile, better methods will emerge for efficiently tracking the results in these areas and also measuring the effect each form of media has on the other.

Medico: Without the technology to support accurate tracking, the analysis of one media’s impact on others can only be done in the aggregate. Looking at this as “a rising tide lifts all ships” is probably the only way to describe the impact without the proper tools. New models are being developed to attribute media’s impact across platforms.

Sarnow: While measuring impact might not be an exact science across channels, making sure that the pie is growing rather than being sliced into more pieces is an excellent way of measuring overall effectiveness. Media buyers have come up with a variety of ways to measure online impact beyond Web orders on a micro-site and unique visitors — but with inconsistent reliability. Brand managers and multi-channel media buyers are in the best position to measure because they have the ability to evaluate several channels simultaneously.

Stacey: This is obviously a big issue right now. How do we manage all of this media? How do they impact each other? It’s something we discuss almost every day. We start with an initial retail sales forecast. We then establish a media budget and a multi-media plan. We then test DR on TV and online and see what the results look like. If we’re losing money after looking at inbound phone calls and Internet orders, we then look at our retail sales numbers to see if there are enough orders there to cover the loss. For example, we have Wal-Mart Retail Link in the office so we can see what each store sold yesterday. We try to determine if our media spent is driving these sales, by what degree, and what the in-store inventory turnover (re-order) potential is. It’s a tricky exercise, but it has to be looked at case-by-case, product-by-product, across each individual media outlet.

How is digital and mobile video viewing going to change the DRTV business?
Fays: Over the next 3-5 years, I see a huge opportunity for basically all DR categories in this mobile/digital landscape. I believe salespeople at networks such as MTVN need to partner directly with the clients to ensure the value of our content is properly represented.

Hawthorne: For several years, we have been providing a digital video component for all of our clients’ DRTV campaigns. We named the concept, “Videoactive” advertising and have a weekly video newsletter ( that educates industry professionals regarding the current uses and applications of Internet and mobile video. Mobile Videoactive advertising is rapidly becoming a valuable addition to DR advertising campaigns and we recommend considering a mobile component when designing new DRTV campaigns.

Lee: It has already changed the business because a bigger percentage of consumers turn to the digital world vs. the traditional telemarketing path to get educated and order. Mobile video viewing, couponing and scanning will become the way of the future.

Lyons: Digital and mobile video will grow the DRTV business and present incredible opportunities for advertisers to make sales. It should also be said that interactive television is another frontier emerging that will propel DRTV forward, with greater ease and efficiency in selling product.

Medico: Reaching consumers at multiple touch points will mean that keeping your message top-of-mind will become critical. In that regard, fragmentation will force marketers and their agencies to become very savvy in terms of their ability to optimize media and lower customer acquisition costs. At present, digital and mobile video viewing is “on demand” This means the ad inventory surrounding these videos can be sold at a premium. The remnant inventory that DRTV marketers rely is not yet available in any meaningful quantities on these platforms.

Sarnow: The DRTV business is already in the midst of huge changes because of the digital convergence we started talking about at the turn of the century! Where homeless orders are a crime and media accountability ranks supreme, television audiences have shrunk, media costs have risen and the projects that get traction are far more complex to launch. It’s about “Results, Results, Results!” This is the mantra of DRTV marketers. Attributing multi-channel sales back to specific TV media purchases is tortuous but rewarding when done correctly. The fun is just on the horizon as retail and other channels will become even more accessible because consumer engagement in the cloud will make the marketing world more complex for the marketer and easier for the digital consumer.

Savage: It’s already changing the way consumers research the products that we sell. It’s changed the way our consumers respond and place orders. We’ve got to be able to provide video content and easy-to-use transactional technologies in order to maximize campaign efficiencies.

Stacey: We still focus mostly on TV and online advertising supported with print. We’re still testing mobile media. We also now add Microsoft tags to all of our retail packaging so consumers can click their smartphones on the boxes on store shelves and immediately play the commercials on their smartphones. It’s too early to tell how effective this is, but any kind of promotion at the store level is always beneficial.

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