DRTV’s Move Into
How DRTV is making its way into a domain once reserved for brand marketers.
By Timothy R. Hawthorne
Television advertising return on investment
(ROI) is no longer just the province of DRTV
marketers — and we have the Internet to
thank. During the past 10 years, Internet
search, with its known cost-per-leads or clicks (and now
comprising more than 40 percent of all online advertising), has become de rigueur for most brand advertisers. Its
growing importance has made the pursuit for advertising
ROI a major initiative among brand marketing teams
across the United States.
And it’s finally impacting their television ad strategies — irrevocably. First, there was the pharmaceutical
market. During the past six years, we’ve seen all major
pharmaceutical corporations make their way into the
DRTV space, eager to tap its accountable, direct sales
channel via lead generation. Then there were American
Express, Allstate, IBM, Procter & Gamble and Clorox,
among many others, gracing their commercials with toll-free numbers and Web site URLs.
More Fortune 500 companies now embrace, with a
vengeance, a medium once reserved for the slicers-and-dicers of the world. In doing so, these companies not
only reap the rewards of lower advertising costs, but also
get a measurable sales channel that integrates well with
existing print, general TV, direct mail and Web campaigns.
So instead of just presenting a “now you see it; now
you don’t” 15- or 30-second product image spot and
catchy slogan to a consumer — who may promptly forget
about it — companies are incorporating a DR mechanism in longer commercials that drive interested customers to pick up the phone or boot up their computer
to learn more, and to hopefully request more information
or even place an order.
This trend is particularly noticeable in both the long-
form and short-form DRTV arena, with the latter com-
prising the bulk of brand commer-
cials that incorporate direct
response mechanisms. That’s
because 60- and 120-second
short-form DRTV spots parallel
traditional 15- and 30-second
spots in that they can be meas-
ured with targeted ratings points
(TRPs), a familiar brand yardstick that doesn’t force
brand marketers to think too far out of the box when
planning DRTV campaigns. Thus, short-form DRTV
spots have become a “safe” bet for corporations of all
makes and sizes.
Short-form also fits the traditional Nielsen analytical
approach, which looks to the measured rating value of
the media when deciding which avails to purchase.
Longer spots also give marketers those extra golden seconds to describe and demonstrate their products in depth
— something 15s and 30s just don’t provide.
And while many enjoy seeing DRTV’s profile raised
as more companies comprehend its value, the trend is
creating some issues for traditional DRTV companies
selling $19.95 widgets via one-step (“Call now and use
your credit card!”) offers. Whereas 10 years ago, DRTV
media buyers may have had their pick when it came to
selecting both short-form and long-form avails, today
these firms are going up against corporate marketers with
deep pockets for the same media time.
As a result, most national cable networks are now
selling their prime DR time to major corporations, with
smaller companies forced to pick up the scraps. The guy
who wants to sell the $19.95 kitchen appliance has to
find his media at mid-tier, smaller subscriber-base cable
networks. It has pushed them out the Lifetimes and
CNNs, and into the much less popular channels.
Will that let up anytime soon? It’s doubtful. Just look
at the results that marketers are getting in return for
attaching toll-free numbers and Web site URLs to their
traditional ads. Large companies across the board are
reaping the rewards of this more “direct” way to reach
the consumer, who — when interested — is usually more
than willing to pick up the phone or visit a Web site to
learn more about what they just saw on TV.
As we begin 2007, don’t be surprised to see more DR
woven into what you would consider a “traditional” TV
ad for an automobile, electronic product or consumer
packaged good. The trend has unfolded over the past
two years, but has taken an even firmer hold over recent
months. Investing more in ROI-based Internet search,
banner and pre-roll video ads, and reaping the accountable rewards, major brands are ever more ready to harness the power of DRTV. Stay tuned. ■