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Direct Response Marketing

Not the Short End of the Stick

5 Mar, 2010 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Short-form DRTV integrates well with marketers’ Web efforts and continues to reign as a popular choice for brand advertisers.

“I don’t think the viewer will read about the 2- to 3-pound loss and be deterred,” says Renfrow. “We just have to follow the rules and the way [we present] our offers.” She says issues like what constitutes a free or “limited time” offer have also come under scrutiny of late, thus forcing short-form producers to carefully think through their clients’ offers and presentations before putting them on the airwaves.
Also impacting the way short-form is produced right now is technology, namely the Internet, social networking and online video — all of which have become attractive, cost-effective ways to reach consumers. “Every spot I’m doing has a Web component,” says Renfrow. “In fact, I even have one financial services client that’s doing Web-only.”
Garnett says that the “myth of new media” has distracted brand advertisers during the current recession, noting that a recent survey shows that 40 percent of firms planned to move at least 20 percent of their DR budgets to social media. He challenges the viability of this shift, calling it “particularly outrageous because the DR budget is likely their single most expensive spending today. Poor choice to fritter it away on social media.”
That cynicism is rooted in the fact that new media — despite all of the hype surrounding it — has yet to prove itself as a strategy for reaching out and building new markets. “[New media] is a good choice once you’ve established a product and a market,” says Garnett. “But before then, it’s never going to create the power marketers need for most products.”
That lack of power doesn’t deter companies from putting money into their Internet strategies. Mal Karlin, president and chief creative officer at New York-based Karlin+Pimsler, says all marketers he’s working with want to either use partial footage or entire commercials online. And as Garnett pointed out, some are even “shifting” their emphasis from TV to the Internet, and often wind up cannibalizing the former in the process.
“It boggles my mind that an advertiser will spend a fortune on optimizing its Web site and still have a [bad] commercial,” says Karlin, who sees YouTube, Google Video and viral video through social networks as a vital part of the media mix. “However, the commercial must be worthy enough to be passed on to a friend.”

The Outlook
Tim Hawthorne, chairman and executive creative director at Fairfield, Iowa-based Hawthorne Direct (and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board), fields a steady stream of requests from brand advertisers looking to leverage short-form DRTV. Intent on taking advantage of less expensive media and more quantifiable results, those advertisers often arrive “with mixed emotions” to their initial planning meetings, says Hawthorne, “but become raving converts when the shows roll out and post strong results.”
As the economy continues its slow recovery, and as advertising budgets are expanded to encompass more online and offline options, expect to see even more of those “raving converts” making their way into the short-form space. Hawthorne also says that general advertisers are “diving back into TV advertising” across various categories — from pharmaceuticals to travel to food brands.
“Many brands have learned to forgo the promise of a guaranteed audience/clearance for the flexibility of a DRTV cancelable schedule,” Hawthorne explains. “With debt and unemployment up, many advertisers are taking advantage of the daytime audience, which is tightening inventory and pushing up rates. This time period is typically very responsive and cost effective for DR. The net result is that prices are rising fast and clearances are harder to make.”
Karlin is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to 2010 as it relates to short-form DRTV, noting that traditional TV programming, and the advertising that supports it, have been hurt by the Internet (much like print media has been negatively impacted). “Right now there’s fierce competition for the same eyeballs within the same 24-hour period,” says Karlin.
Those eyeballs have become conditioned to the volume of information, scams and fluff being pushed on the Internet — a reality that makes it difficult for a legitimate marketer to cut through the chaff and yield results online. Karlin sees opportunity on the television airwaves for companies that offer something of quality and value to consumers.
“Scam artists and scam advertisers have proliferated online, and have turned the viewing public into viewing skeptics,” says Karlin. “Television advertising, if done correctly, has the ability to gain and regain credibility and trust where Internet can not.”

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About the Author: Bridget McCrea

Bridget McCrea

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