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Direct Response Marketing

Response Magazine's 13th Annual State of the Industry Report

1 Sep, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response

It seems many of the traditional marketers entering the space are utilizing mostly short-form DR. How can those agencies, vendors and service providers in the DR space best position themselves for this ongoing wave of change?

Eden: In our negotiation with stations, traditional DRTV agencies need to determine what are the critical elements for each client — clearance, rates, cancellations, etc. Every element can dramatically affect a client's campaign. Blocked time is no longer the answer. Media agencies need to be creative in their campaign management and buy management strategies, sharing with their media partners' results and goals to come up with avenues that will deliver.

Fays: Speaking from the sales perspective, it is our responsibility to gauge where our inventory is and ensure it gets into the right hands at a fair price.

Garnett: Most DRTV providers — especially those with a traditional DRTV background — need to start by acknowledging that they don't know what a brand is. At present, the vast majority of brand DRTV is merely "avoiding damage" to brands because we've learned to do decent production. It's extraordinarily rare to see a campaign that moves a brand ahead and is a full participant with brand advertising. In the past year, we chose to develop six fundamental measurements for determining whether a brand campaign is delivering its total impact in DRTV. They've been quite helpful in making clear the potential of DRTV as a brand advertiser medium. They also clearly show that the big brand DRTV suppliers are dramatically underperforming.

Knight: Quite simply, the earlier they get in the game, the better. Short-form is an extraordinary way to target, reach and then establish relationships with consumers via traditional television, online, wireless and other new media platforms. The direct response model will allow marketers to grow their brands and ultimately, generate revenues. Direct response is accountable, has a proven ROI and is effective way to advertise.

Medico: It is critical that agencies expand their knowledge of the traditional planning criteria so that they can speak to an advertiser in terms they are used to. An agency's media management system should be able to accommodate this need and provide this information, as well as traditional DR metrics.

Sarnow: DRTV media buyers and producers must cater their offerings to traditional marketers. Those that do that successfully will prosper. Those that cater to the "one-hit wonder" products and entrepreneurs will be playing Russian roulette, because results will be bipolar — up and down. Vendors in our industry seem to over-promise because they often try to present themselves as full-service, turnkey vendors when, in fact, they only really offer one service. That becomes transparent quickly and traditional marketers, while being initially attracted, find out the flaw quickly and get a bad taste for the entire industry. Traditional managing of expectations and over-delivering on promises is still the key vendor objective for any and every kind of marketer.

Savage: We service a lot of traditional marketers, and we have found that the best way to help them succeed is to listen to them and understand what they want to achieve, and then to educate them on how DR can be effective for them based on their objectives. Traditional marketers will often need high touch on business modeling, back-end operations, as well as upfront education on the different ways to measure success, so that their objectives are realistic. We are continuously adapting our media buying, client service and technology capabilities based on what marketers need. Adaptability is key.

Stacey: Agencies, vendors and service providers are actively trying to embrace the traditional marketers. The interesting part is watching the traditional agency trying to keep its clients away from the DR agency and yet, at the same, time trying to respect their clients' objectives. I think you will see more traditional agencies forming relationships with DR agencies.

Does today's consumer respond better to short-form or long-form DRTV? Which of these two formats are best supported by other media, including online, mobile, print and radio?

Bruckheim: For Latin America, the winning length remains long-form, but more than 60 percent of the DR inventory is in short form, so distributors are learning how to make short form more profitable — using it to drive retail and Internet sales, for example.

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