8 Reasons DRTV Still Works

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Tim Hawthorne
Tim Hawthorne



direct-tvThe economic downturn has forced companies to scrutinize how exactly every advertising dollar is allocated. Ineffective methods are being replaced by more efficient and measurable options that resonate with today’s consumers, while productive mechanisms are getting more support and attention from the marketers using them.

Direct response television (DRTV) usually lands in the second bucket. Once the domain of entrepreneurs who used fast-paced sales techniques to entertain television audiences with the “power of the half-hour,” DRTV plays an integral part in a wide range of campaigns today.

Whether it’s an entrepreneur hawking a new invention; a brand advertiser struggling to find a more accountable advertising mechanism; or a marketer wanting to generate sales leads; direct response fits the bill. In fact, throughout the economic downturn and now during this slow economic recovery period, DRTV continues to play a vital role in many companies’ advertising strategies.

There are several valid, proven reasons why DRTV works.

It’s accountable. No other television advertising medium allows a marketer to track the sales process from the initial point of contact, to the actual sale, to the upsell and finally to the continuity program. Each stage of the process generates data that companies use to tweak their campaigns in real-time. They can quickly redistribute media dollars among networks, for example, and further their chances of success.

DRTV makes consumers sit up and take action. Whether they pick up the phone, head to a retail store for a closer look at the item or pull up a website for more information, DRTV drives consumers to action. Seeing useful products and services demonstrated on TV just has a way of piquing consumer interest and getting potential buyers on the hook.

DRTV sells while you sleep. Your marketing team may be counting sheep at midnight, but those direct response media dollars are still working in your favor. Millions of viewers are up watching television well past midnight, looking for something engaging to watch on their flat-screen, high-definition TVs. While prime-time commercial avails are nice, it’s the late-night and weekend watchers who are attuned to the direct response category, and they are watching out for it.

Unlike the standalone DRTV commercials of the 1970s and ‘80s, DRTV has learned to play well with others. In fact, it’s a medium that blends extremely well with retail, online, social media marketing, radio and print. DRTV effectively supplements an existing advertising media mix without cannibalizing the investment and effort that’s been put into the other channels. Whether you want to drive retail sales, push consumers to the web or generate leads, DRTV helps achieve those goals by serving as a viable component within an overall campaign.

Direct response also educates consumers like no other advertising medium can. It’s impossible to tell a viewer everything he or she needs to know about your product in 15 seconds, but if you expand that time frame to two minutes, you wind up with a lot of space to fill. Step into the long-form arena and your educational opportunities become virtually limitless. A half-hour program allows enough time to fully inform and excite an interested audience about your product because you have 30 minutes to take the viewer step-by-step through the persuasion process.

Part of that persuasion process centers on solving consumer problems — something DRTV does extremely well. Plagued by adult acne? Looking for a better way to battle the bulge? Seeking additional educational tools for your child? Consumers looking for solutions repeatedly turn to DRTV products for help. Marketers who use DRTV’s luxurious one-, two-, or 28.5-minute time frame to answer those pleas for help definitely get a jump on their non-DRTV-using competitors.

It costs less than traditional spot TV advertising. Sure, direct response media rates creep up every year, but they still never reach spot advertising levels. In fact, the upfront cost of a DRTV campaign is considerably less than what a firm would pay for a 15-second image spot. For that price, DRTV provides advantages that the latter can’t touch, including the ability to test new campaigns, adjust quickly and reach consumers directly.

Finally, DRTV has mass appeal because it comes in different shapes, sizes and formats. Short form spots, infomercials and home shopping are the three main categories, but there are other subcategories that fall under those umbrellas. Lead generation and continuity commercials, for example, accomplish a different task than the infomercial that’s designed to sell direct. Using DRTV, you can pick the format that fits your needs and then tweak your strategy accordingly.

With so many positive attributes working in its favor, DRTV will continue to reign as one of the most popular advertising mechanisms for marketers looking to reach consumers in their own living rooms, on the retail sales floor, online and pretty much anywhere else that they shop.

Here are a few take-away points that you can share with your teams and clients:

  • Throughout the downturn and now during this slow economic recovery period, DRTV continues to play a vital role in many companies’ advertising strategies.
  • DRTV’s accountability factor makes it particularly attractive for companies that want to know the effectiveness of every dollar they funnel into advertising campaigns.
  • Seeing useful products and services demonstrated on TV has a unique way of piquing consumer interest.
  • DRTV’s longer length commercial formats allows advertisers enough time to inform and excite an interested audience about a product or service.



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