July 1 is quickly approaching: half-time for your year’s media efforts. Help make your year’s second-half its strongest with a savvy plan that takes advantage of the benefits of running DRTV media in July. Here are the top seven reasons why:
1. Rates are down.
Q2 is usually an expensive quarter for media rates, so a lot of advertisers come out of sweeps having spent most of their media budget. This, and the general lack of summer holiday ad blitzes, has lead media operations to lower their rates in July.
2. More ad space is available.
Another side effect of the competition’s busted budget is more available ad space. More space means you can create a more robust media plan. This added frequency gives you more bang for your buck, making it perfect for product launches and new brand initiatives.
3. Viewership shifts to more affordable stations.
Summer is when many of the big networks’ shows go on vacation. It’s also when things start to heat up where DRTV does best: affiliates and cable. During these months, viewers gravitate to the off-season replacement shows and original programming that run on these stations. Capitalizing on this shift allows your DRTV spot to get premium attention without paying network rates.
4. Your products may be seasonal.
Summer living comes with opportunities. Your product may have new relevancy in the warmer months or as viewers’ habits change. School is out and children’s stations are at their peak at this time. So, summer break is a great time to target parents with family-focused products.
5. Response is up.
Much of the programming in summer months falls into a category we like to call “low involvement.” During this passive viewing, consumers are more open to engaging with DRTV’s active messaging, and thus to respond.
6. It’s time for your mid-year checkup.
DRTV best practices involve constant testing on a weekly, even daily, basis. Mid-year is ripe for evaluating your campaign’s performance to date and identifying any necessary adjustments. For a 360 evaluation, bring in all the key players in media, creative and telemarketing. You’ll be surprised what they have to say to each other.
Key questions to ask:
Telemarketing: After listening into a few calls, what questions/concerns are consumers expressing? Are the leads from your creative aptly qualified? Can these insights help drive changes to the script?
Creative: How is your control creative performing? Does any of the current messaging need to be adjusted? What is the competition doing?
Media: Are there any overages or shortages in the budget? Is the current mix and frequency working? What is the true ROI for your DRTV campaign so far? If you are only tracking calls/leads, how is does conversion look down the funnel to sales?
7. There’s still half the year left.
Among the many strengths of DRTV are its flexibility and quick reaction time. Using your mid-year checkup as a road map, now is the time to consider producing new creative, adjusting the existing creative or media plan, and laying the strategic groundwork for Q3/Q4 and beyond.
DRTV is anything but lazy in the lazy days of summer. Making the right media moves in July can boost your media dollar and your DRTV campaign’s effectiveness.
Sure, seniors are active and engaged and use the Internet. But according to the report, although many of them have cell phones, comparatively few have smartphones. Ditto their involvement with social media.
But in 4th quarter 2012, seniors averaged almost 221 hours per month watching traditional TV, about 40% more than the total population average.
And according to SpotGenie Partners, they predict TV will continue to dominate the advertising media mix for years to come. “Television and television advertising are not only surviving in the new media age, they are thriving.”
The cherry on top? Growth in online ad spending won’t come at the expense of television. “In fact,” the report explains, “TV is the one medium that complements social media…TV impresses and motivates its audience and ensures brand recall. It remains the medium of choice to influence consumers and drive purchasing decisions.”
I love good quotes almost as much as I love my Mom.
So what’s the lesson here? The senior age group is now, for the first time, the largest in terms of percent of population in the US. And it continues to grow. More people were 65 and over in 2010 than in any previous census.
Direct Response TV is still the most cost-efficient, compelling and motivating way to reach them. Two-minute spots are an ideal way to build your brand and explain or demonstrate your product or service. Seniors insist on lots of information before they make a decision; DRTV gives you the time to do that.
Coupled with that, of course, is buying the right stations at the right times. A spot targeted to the right people is an ideal, cost-effective formula for generating interest and response.
There’s a big world of 65+ seniors out there. They’re watching TV – lots of it. They crave information before making a purchase decision. DRTV is still the best way to reach and influence them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my Mom wants to ask about one of “my” commercials that I wrote, shot and produced.
C’mon, if she wants to think that, who am I to argue?
Clients, potential clients, even friends and relatives are curious. They’ll ask us, “Isn’t the internet hurting your business?” “Doesn’t online ad spending eat up the TV budgets”? “Who’s got time to watch TV?”
Truth is, television is still king - no doubt. Sure, they’re on the internet, too. Who isn’t? And as we’d expect, the amount of time spent online is growing, too.
That means we spend almost 20% of our day watching television! And the numbers are even higher for the 50+ market. Staggering statistic – especially considering the number of hours Americans spend at an office with internet access. And sadly, no TV.
There’s no question TV is still the best and broadest way to reach your audience.
In a time where consumers are constantly demanding video content yet some can’t wait to click the “skip ad” button after a few seconds online, we find it quite exciting to know that TV advertising is heading in the opposite direction. According to the announcement we made today, industry research and our own personal accounts have shown since 2007, spend against two-minute commercials on TV has doubled.
Why the increase? The reason is quite simple, it works! One might say that it’s because CMO’s are being held more accountable or the industry is realizing that not only can you build your brand with DRTV, but you are likely to get a stronger response with longer length. You would think that response rates would double from a :60 to a :120 – twice the time means twice the response at best right? When done correctly - and there’s a need for two minutes to tell a story and engage the audience - then response is indeed significantly higher. The more time spent explaining the benefits of a product or service to a consumer audience, the more time to capture the call-to-action…and less time for other advertisers during the commercial break.
You can learn much more on the data behind these claims and how consumers are responding to TV offers in today’s announcement.
In a time where consumers are constantly demanding video content, but less is typically more, we think the announcement we plan to make next week will surprise you. We’ve said for a long time, two-minute commercials are king. And, the data we will reveal – from industry research firms Kantar Media and Experian Marketing Services, along with Eicoff’s own business momentum - proves it. Marketers are spending more now than ever on two-minute ads. How much more you ask? Ten percent, twenty-five percent, fifty-percent more? Be on the lookout for our announcement early next week for all of the details. The release will also include interesting facts about how consumers are responding to TV offers and just how much they’re spending online as a result.
For years, savvy DRTV marketers have used free gifts and giveaways to improve program response. Premiums and gifts help facilitate the transaction – and have long been recognized as good ways of closing the sale or order. In many cases (including many from my own personal experience), premiums have been what I call the “tie-breaking” element for a DRTV campaign: with one included, the program pays out. Without one, it doesn’t.
So, why is this? Many in the DRTV community may cite simple greed as the driver. Essentially, that consumers just want more before they’ll commit themselves to a sale, or provide their name and address for further follow up. But I believe the truth is likely much more complex.
There is a great deal of research now about what’s known as the Rule of Reciprocation. It is a basic human behavior, taught in every culture around the world. In its simplest form, this rule tells us that we are not to take, without giving something back in return.
For example, according to Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, if a server brings you a check and does not include a candy on the check tray, you will tip the server whatever it is that you feel the server deserves. But if there's a mint on the tray, tips go up 3.3 percent.
This experiment show us that there is something more, a powerful, learned behavior that compels someone to give something back – to respond in some way – when they accept something. And because of the rule of reciprocation, that simple gift to your customer (such as a $1 deck of large-print playing cards) can be leveraged into a sale or learning many times more valuable than that small, initial investment.
Finally, one of the best learnings on the rule of reciprocation is that it is universal. There is no group or population where this behavior isn’t taught and heavily socially reinforced. There are simply no audience segments that can deny their own nature and turn off this response.
There are certainly cases where gifts or premiums may not be as viable or advised. But wherever possible and appropriate, a simple gift of some kind should at least be considered. Their use can help drive incremental performance and value for your DRTV campaigns.
Scott Ballew is a Management Supervisor at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America's largest DRTV agencies.
In a world of time-shifted TV viewing and increased advertising accountability, is DRTV (direct response television) the future of advertising?
Stay with me.
Since the earliest days of television, direct response commercials have leveraged the tech of the times.
From the US Mail, "Send your check or money order to P.O. Box..."
To the telephone, "Don't wait, call now…"
To the internet, "Visit us online at..."
The evolution continues, and DRTV stands at the threshold of a giant leap forward.
In June, TiVo and PayPal announced a game-changing team-up. It gave TiVo viewers the power to buy advertised products with their remote and pay for them safely and securely through PayPal. Wow. Suddenly advertisers could turn 30-second spots and interactive TiVo placements into “actionable purchasing opportunities.”
In other words, TiVo and PayPal just opened a new line to the cash register. But what it all boils down to is a new spin on DRTV.
Scott Dunlap, VP of Emerging Opportunities and New Ventures for PayPal said, “...we see television as the newest channel in commerce. Teaming up with TiVo will help us connect merchants and consumers via the TV set in the fastest and safest way possible. We are excited about the prospect of delivering a more complete and seamless couch commerce experience."
A “seamless couch commerce experience.” No doubt this evolving technology will make buying products on television as easy as everything else TiVo offers. So what are some implications for advertisers and agencies?
Here’s the good news, and the bad news: determining a spot’s success and ROI will be easier than ever. Measuring its response rate, and actual sales via PayPal, will enable advertisers to evaluate a spot’s impact more accurately. If the spot works, break out the champagne. If not, what then? Partnering with an agency that understands the nuances of direct response, and how to build on your spot’s success or revise your creative most effectively if necessary, will be critical.
Harder working creative.
Creative using this technology needs to be approached differently. Bottom line, it will need to sell – turning a corner from generating emotion and awareness, to getting viewers to click the remote and take action on the spot. Advertisers may consider versioning spots. By leveraging TiVo’s targeting capabilities, multiple versions of one spot could be tailored, featuring different offers for different markets. This can make the spot more relevant and appealing to the viewer, and thereby increase response rates.
Thanks to partnerships like TiVo and PayPal, DRTV won't just fill time slots – it will fill shopping carts.
But while you may have the tools, you still need the know-how. Just like buying a guitar doesn’t make you a rock star. Partnering with an agency that understands how to use the tools most effectively will give you a longer leg up and set you apart from the competition. And that’s really what makes registers ring.
Jim Madsen is a Copywriter at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America's largest DRTV agencies.
Quick shout-out to Quicken Loans for their groundbreaking volunteer work in 2012. Check out the below article and read how Quicken Loans served communities in their own backyard and throughout the country in 2012.
Quicken Loans and the Family of Companies Gave Back in a Big Way in 2012
By: Krissy Schwab
It’s pretty stunning, really. When you think a company can’t give any more, they somehow find a way to do so. Just when we thought 2011 was a huge year for Quicken Loans and the Family of Companies to give back to the community, they gave even more in 2012.
The Community Relations team here at Quicken Loans rallied team members working in Southeast Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona to give back to the communities in which they live, work and play. From raising and donating money to getting our hands dirty working at volunteer events, team members came together and shattered last year’s numbers:
Team members around the country volunteered at 119 events.
Quicken Loans and the Family of Companies donated $7 million to charitable organizations – about three times more than 2011.
Team members themselves raised nearly $600,000.
Team members spent 9,960 hours volunteering in the community –nearly tree times more hours than in 2011.
Team members donated more than 3,000 toys to The Salvation Army.
They helped the Greening of Detroit plant hundreds of trees and tended to the many urban gardens around the city, making Detroit more beautiful along the way.
Team members also served hundreds of meals at Cleaners Community Food Bank, Forgotten Harvest, Lighthouse of Oakland County, the Cleveland Food Bank and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
The Community Relations team gathered the troops to raise money for other charities dedicated to helping those afflicted with illness. More than 220 team members participated in the annual Susan Coleman Race for the Cure, and about 200 volunteers came out to support the Alzheimer’s Walk at the Detroit Zoo.
Fellow Marketing team member Jason Brown volunteered at Capuchin Earthworks urban farm and found the experience rewarding: “It felt awesome to work on a project that benefited the community of Detroit, and I look forward to more volunteer opportunities this year.”
I, along with the rest of the Content team, recently volunteered at Focus: HOPE, packing boxes of food for the elderly. I agree with Jason; it felt good helping out a local organization – especially since many charities can always use some extra assistance.
Our dedication to the communities we live, work and play in continues to grow. Look for more events, sponsorships and volunteer opportunities in 2013.
In the paper titled "The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas" the reputable academics who conducted the research (I'm definitely uptowning on this one) suggest that the biggest challenge for clients when it comes to embracing creative thinking is the unknown. It's risky. Largely because it's, well, unknown. In a world that's often resolutely risk-averse, this is the paradox: I want creative and novel ideas but novel ideas take me out of my comfort zone and render me uncomfortable.
Which isn't to say DRTV is inherently un-creative, nor devoid of risk. (Ask the people who brought the world The Snuggie if they thought that was a sure thing. Over one hundred million dollars in sales later...)
But let's face it, the risk we're talking about is All About The Money. DRTV embraces the kind of creative thinking that will prove itself - or not - quickly and without a huge investment. A couple weeks on the air and you'll have your answer. A client who jumps on the DRTV bus doesn't have to hold her breath hoping an idea will turn out to be successful in Year 2 or Year 3 while watching her marketing budget dry up, not to mention her prospects for that big promotion.
Even with all the copy testing in the world, there are no guarantees in life. Except with DRTV. If it works, you'll know it faster than the time it takes to sew arms on a blanket. If it doesn't, well you'll know that right away too. So you can move on to your next novel, creative, risky idea.
Take the creative bias out of your creative ideas. Try DRTV.
Mike Powell is the SVP/Executive Creative Director at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.
A. Eicoff & Company has reinvented itself a number of times in its history.
This may come as a surprise, since the agency has been remarkably consistent in its focus on television advertising for measurable results. Yet we’ve changed despite this focus. In fact, reinvention has been what’s allowed us to survive and thrive for more than 50 years.
Alvin Eicoff reinvented the DRTV business by introducing the 800 number in direct response commercials. Ron Bliwas reinvented the business again by broadening our client base and demonstrating that all sorts of offers could sell well via direct response.
The first reinvention that I was part of took place in the ‘80s. We recognized that Fortune 500 companies were becoming interested in DRTV and that an opportunity existed for us to capitalize on that interest. Prior to this, many of our clients were smaller, entrepreneurial companies. But things were changing. Cable stations were proliferating—more time slots were available for DRTV and greater opportunities to target specific markets. In addition, advertisers were starting to demand greater accountability from their television spots, and DRTV provided it.
So we started talking to Fortune 500 companies. They wanted results, but they also wanted high production values, creative that dovetailed with their other spots and a different media buying strategy than we were used to. Could we go from the king of the hard sell pitch to being the master of image-conscious, results-driven advertising?
It took some rethinking of our basic concepts, some testing and some new hires, but eventually we successfully translated the Eicoff way into Fortune 500 terms.
In the following years, a number of additional reinventions took place, including:
•Establishing DRTV as a viable strategy for retailers (Sears and Rent-A-Center).
•Developing proprietary media-buying software (Core Direct) that provided breakthrough efficiency and effectiveness.
•Overcoming decades-old obstacles to medical advertising by originating Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical DRTV spots.
•Integrating URLs into DRTV commercials.
•Creating an analytic protocol for tracking web traffic generated by DRTV.
•Making DRTV an effective approach for the Medicare reimbursement category.
The strange thing is that despite all this reinvention, we adhere to many of the same principles that Alvin Eicoff established when he launched the agency. If he were around today, Al would love the creative that still motivates viewers to call or click and he would relish the media strategy that cherry-picks the absolute best slots for a given offer at the best prices.
So we’re the same, but different. That’s the paradox of reinvention—we’re creating a new agency continuously but retaining the foundation of who we are.
Bill McCabe is the President/CEO at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.