It’s no secret that a large number of brand advertisers have warmed up to the idea of adding DRTV commercials to their marketing portfolios. Over the last few years, Apple, Nissan, Discover Card, Nikon and the U.S. Navy have become some of the biggest, most recognizable brands that use short- and long-form DRTV campaigns to sell products and services, increase customer loyalty, build subscription bases and generate leads.

What is DRTV?

Direct response television (DRTV) is any television advertising that asks consumers to respond directly to the company. This is a form of direct response marketing. There are two types of direct response television, short form and long form.

While brands have clearly helped elevate DRTV’s status among advertisers of all sizes and across all industries, their foray into the space begs the question: What do we need to know about using DRTV as part of our advertising lineup? Here are seven answers to that question:

1. Traditional agencies and DRTV experts don’t always mix. Several brand agencies have “added” DRTV capabilities to the lineups, but DRTV is a different animal. It requires expertise, selling strategies and messages that traditional agencies haven’t mastered.

2. An agency with deep DRTV expertise is always worth its salt. Because traditional agencies aren’t equipped to orchestrate DRTV campaigns, it’s always best to work with one that has deep experience working in the medium. Look for agencies that have years of proven response-generating techniques with which traditional agencies are unfamiliar. During your search for a good DRTV partner, seek out companies that deliver best practices and have solid, integrity-based reputations. They should be willing to take the time to educate a newbie on the finer points of DRTV and how to most effectively integrate this marketing tool into an existing program.

3. DRTV isn’t all about boisterous pitchmen hawking their wares while toll-free numbers flash garishly in front of the viewers’ faces. A combination of self-regulation, government oversight and the realization that people don’t buy products after watching grainy, yell-and-sell commercials at 2 a.m. has pushed DRTV to new limits. Production values have improved dramatically, as have the selling techniques and messages that go along with them. It’s a whole new world out there.

4. DRTV is highly accountable and measurable. These features not only allow companies to connect directly with consumers in innovative ways, but they also enable efficient, fast decision making when it comes to media buys, advertising messages and other critical campaign components.

5. Image spots and DRTV work together beautifully. For example, where shorter image formats help inject the consumers’ minds with thinking, awareness and attitude about a product or service, DRTV commercials lead viewers to the next stage. They push consumers to take action by picking up the phone, visiting a website or driving over to Target or Walmart for a closer look. Because it integrates so well with other efforts, DRTV becomes symbiotic with advertising that's already in place, and works hand-in-hand to create a more powerful sales environment where both new and established brands can be seen and heard.

6. Direct response picks up where branding leaves off. Established brand names are less important to consumers these days. It takes a typical company $150 to $200 million to create a brand. In comparison, after investing approximately $100 million in research and development on her color cosmetics line, relatively unknown Victoria Jackson spent just $15 million in media to create a brand — solely through infomercials — that came to earn tens of millions of dollars.

7. If you aren’t using DRTV your company is missing out. Companies that run multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns without DRTV leave a big piece of pie on the table for their competitors to eat up. DRTV provides a distinct channel of communication and distribution that supplements any current marketing program already in place. And it does so without cannibalizing any other media.

To companies looking to integrate DRTV into their brand portfolios for the first time, a good first step is to examine how the medium can synergize existing campaigns that are running on TV, radio, print, billboards, direct mail and the web. By setting up a business where cost-per-order serves as a fully accountable metric in a real-time 24/7 environment, you can drive both direct and retail sales at the same time. That's where the synergy comes in, and it’s where DRTV really shines.

Continue the Discussion

  • Have you ever used DRTV as part of a campaign? Why or why not?
  • Would DRTV be beneficial for your client’s needs?
  • What has your experience with DRTV been? Have you ever bought something from a program?

Originally published Jan 2, 2012 1:00:00 AM, updated August 29 2017

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TV Ads