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Direct Response Marketing

Response Branding Hits Its Stride

1 Jan, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response

As 2009 gets underway, Response asks a leading question of its best guest experts, as well as its readers: "Is branding dead?" While, to many, the answer may seem a clear "No," it's actually a question designed to lead to a much more complicated discussion on the state of marketing today.

Thomas Haire
Thomas Haire

The story — and a start to that discussion — can be found on page 30 of this issue. However, in this space a month ago, I promoted the idea of those in the direct response marketing world seizing the spotlight during tough economic times. As I hinted there, that column was just the beginning of a concerted editorial effort on the part of Response to push the discussion of direct response in the halls of traditional branders to a new level.

For the past four-and-a-half years in the pages of Response and the past two years at Response Expo, the convergence of direct response and branding into a new hybrid method we call "response branding" has been The Hot Topic. And for good reason, as direct response has clearly outgrown its simple short-form and long-form DRTV roots and become an all-encompassing marketing method, incorporating a multi-media approach. DR now has roots as deep in the Internet, print, radio and emerging media as it does in television.

As a matter of fact, a recent report from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) shows just how far DR has come. In its "Power of Direct Marketing" report, the DMA shows that more than 52 percent of all ad expenditures in the United States in 2008 were in direct marketing — and predicts that number will push above the 53-percent mark in 2009.

The report shows that nearly $177 billion was spent on direct marketing in 2008, including nearly $23 billion on television, $4.6 billion on radio and $28.6 billion in what it calls "new media" (a.k.a. online, mobile and other digital marketing). Nearly one-third of total TV ad expenditures are now spent on direct response while nearly three of every four dollars spent in the "new media" category was spent on direct response.

What has all this spending wrought? The report says that the ad expenditures measured for 2008 generated more than $2 trillion in total incremental U.S. sales. Projections for 2009 show growth in direct marketing expenditures and total sales in the 3.5-percent range, with E-mail and other Internet marketing expected to enjoy double-digit percentage increases.

No, branding is not dead — but as many of our experts contend in this month's feature story, it is now just becoming another facet of marketing in this high-tech age. Marketing through electronic means — online and, yes, on TV — is the "now" and the "future." Marketing via direct response through these (and other) media in order to best measure the ROI of every advertising dollar is simply common sense.

As we continue to count down to Response Expo 2009 on May 19-21 in San Diego, you can expect more in-depth reporting on the transition to response-branded advertising in this new world.

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