Getting Generation Me to DRTV

By Maura Foley

My favorite self-descriptor, “couch potato,” may soon be antiquated. Media consumption is now as likely to occur in bed, my home office, back porch, or on the train as it is my cozy Ikea sofa. What does this mean for DRTV if my peers cut the cord on TV?

Marketers are a-twitter (pardon the pun) about my generation’s varied and evolving taste in media engagement. So much so Nielsen, the marketing research behemoth of record, has given me a new generational label: “Generation C.” Yet another moniker has caught on among cultural critics: “Generation Me.” If we’re not Instagramming selfies and our latest brunch entree, we’re tweeting during our favorite TV shows.

Wait! Read that last part again. Many marketers bemoan the imminent destruction of TV, fearful of the oncoming digital apocalypse being brought on by Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. True, many Millennials have unplugged the cable box entirely. Yet, Nielsen’s Generation C constitutes 23% of television viewership, a disproportionate volume considering population size! Most users who partake in digital video do so in addition to, not in place of, traditional TV.

Furthermore, Millennials are the most likely cohort to clutch their smartphone or tap away at a laptop while watching TV. Nielsen recently demonstrated that these behaviors, labeled multi-screen viewing, may produce increasingly loyal viewers, than “traditional” TV viewers. Broadcasts with high volumes of tweets during their premieres can pull in more viewership. And programming has caught on: Fans of The Bachelorette can watch fellow viewer’s tweets flicker across the bottom of the screen just below the TV romance.

One last difference between traditional TV viewing and digital highlights a particular advantage of DRTV. Digital viewers are more likely to binge watch entire seasons of shows at once. Sounds an awful lot like “nontent,” a DRTV staple, to me. When I can pause my fourth episode of Toddlers & Tiaras in a row, why not pick up the phone to respond to a well-targeted DRTV ad?

I posit that the coming shift in TV behavior demonstrates not our impending doom as marketers, but increased opportunity for consumer engagement, particularly with DRTV. The concepts that make DRTV a high-ROI marketing avenue for marketers on traditional TV are only set to expand with increased digital viewership.

Maura Foley is an Analyst at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.