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Direct Response Marketing

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

1 Sep, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response

Digby Orsmond, ARM Direct Ltd.: In the United Kingdom, the growth of infomercial airtime across an increasing number of cable and satellite TV channels remains the big story. This could increase further if OFCOM (the British Office of Communications, which regulates broadcast) changes the existing rules and allows advertisers to use infomercials for generating leads instead of just home shopping. While relatively few U.K. marketers have discovered the power of the half-hour show, U.S. companies, such as Guthy-Renker, Thane, JML and Time-Life now dominate the long-form sector in Britain. The bigger and better known retail brands are still not convinced that the half-hour show format is ideal for targeting a broader socio-economic demographic. Should the OFCOM rules change, then financial service multi-nationals — primarily in the insurance and banking sectors — will definitely consider long-form advertising. This will hopefully encourage others in the U.K., and the rest of Europe, to follow this proven U.S. format. The downside for the purely home shopping product advertisers is that once brands get involved, the airtime rates will very likely go up as these corporate advertisers will be willing to pay much higher rates to lock out their European competitors.

David Savage, Cmedia: The continued growth of truly integrated and cross-channel media campaigns undertaken by DR marketers is the big story. More and more companies are maximizing the efficiencies that can come with optimizing the opportunities that come from simultaneously investing in DRTV, online, DR radio, direct mail, DR print and alternative print media.

Richard Stacey, Northern Response Intl. Ltd.: The most significant accomplishment in the past year and, in fact, during the past several years, is the DR industry's ongoing ability to adapt to the changing media and technology environment and to continue to embrace — and incorporate into their businesses — the new formats and channels of distribution that have arisen as a result.

What do you believe the hottest topic will be in the coming 12 months?

Maria Eden, Direct Response Media Inc.: For the balance of 2008, the political environment will dramatically impact short-form DRTV efforts through Election Day and possibly mid-November. The No. 1 factor impacting the next year is the state of the economy. Consumers' disposable income has been dramatically reduced by increased gas prices, mortgage rates and food costs. While there has been some downward movement in gas prices, projections right now are that a "recovery" is not expected until possibly fourth-quarter 2009.

Greg Sarnow, Direct Response Academy: There will be three: recession, client results, and utilizing emerging technologies to build profitable DRTV campaigns. Traditional DRTV marketers are still catching up to the technological developments of the past five years. Once we are caught up, many new opportunities to grow our businesses will come to fruition.

Bruckheim: The competition for pan-regional cable media in Latin America seems to be a concern to many — local distributors and global product suppliers alike. Existing agencies seem to be fighting over the limited media inventory, thereby driving media rates up. If this continues, media will become unaffordable, hurting not only the distributors, but also the suppliers, which depend on the media to generate product sales.

Fays: Given the strength of the national upfront this year, I forecast some tightening of inventory for DR clients in 2009. Bottom line, I believe pricing will go back up to 2007 levels.

Hawthorne: The growing use of video-on-demand (VOD) for long-form DRTV as advertisers begin to make use of cable nets' enhanced VOD technology will be a major issue.

Knight: The hottest topic coming up may well be the continued growth of new technology, as well as the many efficient and creative ways it empowers advertisers with the ability to target and reach consumers.

Lee: Online marketing, mobile marketing and more in-depth database mining will receive more attention.

Medico: The increasing interest in mobile and out-of-home advertising could spark a breakthrough in the next year.

Savage: The economy is the big story: how it affects consumer response, and which marketers and media sellers will be able to take advantage of how it affects DR media inventory and rates across all categories.

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