Interactive TV has arrived... and it's working.

By: Matt Cote, Craig Meisenheimer

In all the talk about devices that consumers have in hand while watching TV, we often forget the most common one: The Remote Control. Yep, the trusty, old remote.  Luckily for DRTV marketers, Interactive TV is rapidly enhancing the power of this overlooked device.

Today over 85 million homes are equipped with some form of interactive TV. Dish, DirecTV, Comcast, TiVo, AT&T and others have all grown out a robust footprint of interactive TV homes.  The technology enables consumers to respond to an offer, request a phone call, click to watch more content and even play games with their remote.  And advertisers can take advantage of it all to drive incremental leads, sales and brand interaction.

At Eicoff, we recently tested these capabilities in a big way. Through the AT&T U-Verse system, we created a stand-alone TV channel for K12 Online Education. Simultaneously, while AT&T U-Verse subscribers were watching their favorite shows, we would air one of our K12 commercials. During that 30 or 60 second advertisement, a pop-up would appear and say, “If you’re interested in learning more about home-schooling curriculum, click OK for more information.” Once the viewer clicked OK, they were telescoped to our unique channel. 

This channel then allowed viewers to really dig into what K12 offered. They could click on one option for detailed information about the products available, much like you would on a website. They could click on another and watch a longer ad or even a 30-minute infomercial.  They could also request an information packet to be mailed to their home. Our prospective customers were not only guided to a place filled with useful information, but upon arrival they had control. They were transformed from passive viewers into active consumers, which is a huge step in any sales process. It all came together with the right messaging and configuration of content.

After six weeks on air, we were happy to see that this test was an overwhelming success. The cost per lead was about 50% LESS than the client’s overall DRTV campaign results. And there were close to 15,000 requests for information on a cable platform reaching only 6 Million Households.  We were excited to discover another avenue to help our clients reach their goals.

Overall the growth of Interactive TV has been slower than many predicted. Today, however, the industry appears to be finally coming into its own.  In addition to a large growth in scale, the technology of each platform continues to improve. The interaction is more streamlined, the options to engage with the consumer and drive response are all enhanced and more features are being added each quarter.  As the technology expands we are actively testing which features drive the greatest ROI for our clients. 

The great news is that all Interactive TV is highly measurable. You know how many people saw your Interactive Ad Unit, how long they engaged and how many responded, all on a very granular level. Interactive TV is proving to be a very strong tool to drive results. Immediate, measurable results. And just like the old remote control, that will never go out of style. 

For more information about Interactive TV and emerging media, contact Matt Cote at Matt.Cote@eicoff or 312.527.7129

How to Grow Your Business with DRTV Advertising

By: Eicoff

Whether your business is just starting out or is already well-established, advertising with Direct Response Television (DRTV) can be a smart way to grow your brand. From travel to finance to online retail, there are many industries that can benefit from using DRTV.

DRTV advertising provides the ability to bring your message to a large amount of customers and directly invite them to take action. It also enables you to measure the success of each ad based on response. It’s as close as you’re going to get to receiving instant gratification in advertising.

Of course, not all DRTV is created equally. There are distinct tactics you can use when putting together a DRTV campaign in order to have a significant impact on the growth of your business. Here are some of our top suggestions.

Define Clear Objectives. Pinpoint your specific objectives for the DRTV advertisement. Do you want to drive customers online to your website where you can obtain more information and build your customer database? Are you looking to increase awareness and obtain donations for an important cause? Do you want to generate sales of your product or service?

When you’re clear on the objectives and end goal of the DRTV campaign, it will be focused and much more likely to produce the desired results.

Demonstrate Value. In order to grab the attention of viewers, DRTV needs to demonstrate the value of the product or service. How will it help them? How will their lives be improved if they purchase this product? If they aren’t convinced they need the product in the first place, what sets yours apart from others on the market won’t make much of a difference.

Also, adding too much fluff and entertainment, without selling benefits, may interest viewers enough to watch, but won’t get them to take the desired action. And persuading viewers to do something is the entire goal of DRTV. 

Strong Call-to-Action. A call-to-action is a key component of any powerful and effective DRTV commercial. No matter how creative and enticing a DRTV ad may be, if there isn’t a strong call-to-action, response will suffer. The call-to-action should clearly guide the viewer on what action she should take.  It can help to include a special offer, a sense of urgency or a tangible item like a free information kit. Without these elements, you’ll end up with a weak call-to-action and a poor response.

Create and Foster Communication. Be sure to have a way to obtain contact information for those who respond to the DRTV ad. The information requested should be quick and convenient for people to provide, such as an email address. If you’re selling a product or service, this will be extremely important since not everyone who makes the call or visits your website will make a purchase – though that is the ideal scenario and what your ad should try to accomplish.

Having a way to contact prospective customers enables you to keep in touch, informing them about business updates and new offers, until they are ready to do business with you. This ongoing communication is an important key to growing your business over time.

A well-crafted DRTV commercial that includes these elements can greatly impact the growth of your business by establishing a strong customer base, driving sales, and building brand awareness.

Contact us to discuss how DRTV advertising can help grow your business.


Posted In: DRTV Best Practices

4 things to know about: Performance Television Creative

By: Mike Powell

One of the joys of the creative process is that it's so wide open; there are as many different methods of channeling creativity as there are creative people. In the business of advertising, however, while the process is important, it's the output that gets all the attention. There are marketing objectives to meet. Mandatory messages to incorporate. Communication tracking goals to deal with. And so on.

When it comes to Performance Television and Direct Response Television (DRTV), the metrics just get more challenging. Clients expect to see tangible results, in the form of phone or web activity, qualified leads, sales, etc., and they expect to see them, like yesterday.

With this kind of accountability, Performance Television creative has to meet different standards. Here are four key considerations for successful results.

1. Identify the audience. Any good advertising embraces a well-defined target audience. Given that the goal of DRTV isn't to entertain, but to inform and educate (not to mention motivate), signaling the audience right out of the gate - essentially letting viewers know who we're talking to - helps insure they'll stick around. In some cases this can be a simple, direct statement, especially if there are qualifying characteristics, like being Medicare age or part of a very specific group. You can also identify viewers who fall into a relevant interest group, like foodies or video game enthusiasts.

2. Communicate with Clarity. This is an exceedingly simple concept that's surprisingly hard to execute: clear communication of specific benefits and features. Writers: resist the temptation to show off your poetic chops and/or your extensive vocabulary. Art Directors: make sure visuals support the strategy. Clients: make sure everything you're mandating for the copy comes from a consumer perspective. Even if you've spent years and a bunch of money to develop some kind of space-age ingredient or cool technology, if it doesn't matter to the consumer, don't put it in your commercial.

3. Create Value. Great brand advertising generates a strong emotional connection with its audience. This alone, however, doesn't lend itself to inciting consumers to take action. Performance Television is charged with motivating the viewer to do something - call, go online, text for more information, watch a demonstration video - and the sooner, the better. At some point, you're going to ask your viewer to take some of her valuable time to respond to your ad. There has to be enough value in what you're offering to make it worth her while. This means a little less character/plot, and a little more (okay, a lot more) substance. Remember: it's one thing to get someone to feel something. It's another thing to get someone to do something.

4. Sell...but never at the expense of the brand. Sometimes it seems like everyone's forgotten the reason advertising was invented: to sell something. Effective Performance Television is not shy about selling. Importantly, this doesn't mean yelling, schilling or wheedling. It means providing substantive information to the prospective consumer, and then clearly asking them to consider closing the deal - all without compromising the valuable equities of the brand. (Anyone who tells you a key pillar of their brand character is that "it doesn't sell," might be trying to sell you something else altogether.)

Four considerations to keep in mind as you think about an investment in Performance Television. The beauty is, these are not prescriptive rules, but rather criteria for success. Work with a team who has done this before. Because as straightforward as it seems, there is an art to it.

Should you consider DRTV in your content strategy?

By: Eicoff

While Direct Response Television (DRTV) isn’t a perfect fit for every product or service, it has proven to be an extremely valuable marketing tool for many businesses. If you’re unsure about whether you should include DRTV in your content strategy, here are five reasons you may want to strongly consider giving it a try.

1) Drive New Customer Sales. By using DRTV as part of your content strategy, you’re likely to see a significant increase in sales activity from new customers. Research done by TiVo Research and Analytics (TRA) found TV to be more effective than digital media at driving sales from new customers.

It makes sense. DRTV reaches a large audience, exposing viewers who would not otherwise know about your products or services and wouldn’t search for you online. Existing customers, on the other hand, are familiar with your company and can easily go to your website to get what they need.

Plus, since DRTV gives viewers an immediate way to take action, new customer activity is gained in a much shorter amount of time than through other advertising methods.

2) Generate Qualified Leads. DRTV is being used more often by various types of businesses for purposes outside of making an immediate sale—for example, encouraging viewers to request a brochure to obtain more information. Viewers who request the brochure become qualified leads since they’ve taken the first step and expressed an interest in your company’s product or service.

3) Increase Traffic to Your Website. For most brands and companies, attracting more people to their website is a major objective. It’s also a challenge. DRTV commercials by nature motivate viewers to take action. Thus, they can be an incredibly effective way to drive more customers your way.

Through DRTV, viewers can be enticed to go online to learn more about your exciting new product, discover your company’s broader line of services, take advantage of an irresistible offer or all of the above.

4) Measure Performance. DRTV is extremely accountable, allowing you to measure the success of a your advertising campaign by tracking viewer responses. Performance measures can include:

  • Number of website visits and time spent on site for each visit
  • Amount of phone calls and length of each call
  • Purchases made
  • Information requests received
  • Text message responses

Such detailed and useful feedback is a true selling point of DRTV as it allows companies to test and adjust DRTV advertisements as needed – known as optimizing – to meet their intended goals.

5) Build Brand Awareness. DRTV is also a great avenue to communicate your brand’s story in an inspiring way and for connecting with your audience on a deeper level. Demonstrating multiple compelling reasons to buy generates a more genuine interest in your brand. And that’s an important ingredient for earning repeat sales and building a loyal customer base.

DRTV can result in a large number of high quality leads, new customers and sales, in addition to other benefits. If you have a product or service that’s a good fit for this advertising medium, it could be worthwhile to make it a component of your overall content strategy.

Please feel free to contact us to see if your company can benefit from adding DRTV to your content strategy.


3 Things to Consider with Programmatic Television

By: Eileen Bousquet

The relatively new world of programmatic buying on TV presents a new kind of challenge to advertisers and their agencies when it comes to figuring out the best way to use the platform for the biggest benefit.

The promise of programmatic TV – combining available data and the latest technology to reach a target audience that goes beyond age and gender – leads to a logical question:

Why wouldn’t every television advertiser want to use this platform to reach their key consumers on a more granular level? The easy answer to that question is “of course, they would.” However, it’s not as simple as just hitting the go button. Even with new programmatic vendors and technologies seemingly popping up every month, there isn’t a turnkey approach to success.

Many advertisers should be able to reap benefits from devoting a piece of their budget to programmatic TV. The challenge becomes finding the right combination of vendor/platform, custom target, and KPIs for evaluation. Testing a variety of combinations may be necessary, but these tests can be done quickly with minimal investment.

So as you look at programmatic TV, here’s some advice to consider:

1)  Keep your objective clear. Is the test goal to drive increased conversion to sale by reaching a more targeted customer? To extend reach by utilizing networks and programs not included in the current media plan? To increase media efficiency against a specific segment of your target audience? Identifying the primary goal of the programmatic TV test should drive the decision about which vendor to use, since they all have differences in their approach and capabilities.

2)  Be open to different approaches for building a custom target. There are many ways to skin a cat, and the myriad of data out there can provide multiple ways to define the target audience. Third party data (MRI, Experian, Acxiom, Nielsen, Kantar, Rentrak, to name a few) and an advertiser’s own first party customer data can be combined to create the custom target, which becomes the focus of the campaign. Testing more than one over the course of time will provide learning about how to use programmatic TV to build your business and complement your overall ad campaign. In fact, it may help identify new or unlikely consumer segments that will inform your overall marketing efforts.

 3)  Evaluate the test based on relevant results.  Every programmatic vendor offers unique reporting and analysis – from basic calculation of incremental reach driven by the test to attribution modeling that endeavors to connect media weight to sales. Just as important as identifying the objective of a programmatic test is identifying the key metrics for evaluation. Direct response advertisers have an advantage in this regard because they can clearly observe not only direct sales, but whether the consumers responding to programmatic advertising are more qualified due to data targeting. But the bottom line for any advertiser is to not lose sight of the fact that a programmatic test needs to be held to the same standards as any other media vehicle: does it drive sales by reaching the right people with your message?

Data, automation and technology have made programmatic TV buying a reality that is predicted to become a larger part of the TV advertiser’s world in the coming years.  Testing the platform now makes sense so you can learn how it can best be incorporated into your marketing efforts in the future.

For further definition of programmatic TV and its potential, here are a couple of articles to read:

Parody Ads. Are they "Alright, alright, alright"?

By: Tim Burke

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but making a parody of my TV commercial will never hurt me.

Saturday Night Live has been bashing on brands for decades. Youtube offers a never-ending supply of user-generated ads that make fun of ads. And with the recent spoofing of Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln car commercials, I can’t help but wonder... “Is all of this mock-filled attention a good thing?”

In some cases, there’s no doubt it can do harm. However, for the most part, I see it falling under the same umbrella as, “All press is good press.” Lincoln, a relatively forgotten car brand, has received more attention in the last few months than the last 10 years. And according to MarketWatch, October 2014 sales are up 25% for the carmaker. 

While you have to give the Oscar Winner - and his cool persona - much of the credit, you cannot underestimate the role of these spoof ads. From Ellen Degeneres to Jim Carrey on SNL, the extra exposure has been massive. People are thinking and talking about Lincoln. That’s a huge win for any brand or product. So if you ever find your TV commercial a victim of others’ satire, just think of Mr. McConaughey and say to yourself, “It’s alright, alright, alright.”

To further embrace the spirit of this blog article, below is an Eicoff commercial lucky enough to provide inspiration for a few writers at Saturday Night Live. Our commercial chronicles the invention story behind Breathe Right Nasal Strips. SNL's commercial wonderfully imitates ours, only featuring a different product solving a much different problem.  

Our Commercial


Saturday Night Live's Parody Ad

'Tis the Season(s) For Holiday Radio

By: Wendy Dunphy

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer... in October? Yes, it's already begun! Radio stations around the country have been racing to switch formats and feature holiday music 24/7. 
This New York Times article details the compelling attraction for listeners who eagerly anticipate the highly popular, annual Nov-Dec short term switch to the all-holiday radio format. Almost 500 stations nationwide will take part in this transformation. Even in warmer locales, like Alabama, people are eager to sing along to Let It Snow by Bing Crosby.  For local radio stations, this Jingle Bell Takeover is a big winner. It creates an advertiser-friendly format filled with listeners who can't wait for the holidays and the biggest shopping season of the year to begin.
While some radio stations have already switched to their holiday playlists, our local Chicago station WLIT-FM is engaging their listeners with an online contest, “Guess when our holiday music starts!” You can visit their website for your chance to win. OUR PREDICTION: Soon very soon.

Philips Launches Another Exciting Innovation

By: Rob Schmidt

Our client Philips Lifeline has always been the leading innovator in medical alert systems. Today they take their technological expertise in this field to a whole new level. With the launch of a new mobile product called GoSafe, Philips is giving seniors greater safety, security and freedom than ever before. It's the kind of product that will truly make a huge difference for many people. Visit their website to learn more.

And stay tuned for a category changing commercial coming soon to a TV screen near you.

2 minutes of awesomeliciousness

By: Mike Powell

I watched Jeff Goldblum's GE Link smartbulb ad many times. Over and over, in fact. All two-minutes of it, basking in every creepy second. (Perhaps "unsettling" is a less pejorative term? Either way, it is awesome.)

I love ads like this. They're immanently watchable, shareable, talk-about-able. But the delight here is they manage to squeeze in a few legit selling points for the GE Link Lightbulb! Actual brand benefits! Tasty product features! Try doing all that in 30 measly seconds.

This is a delicious example of the blending of brand advertising principles and proven DRTV tactics. Heavy on the entertainment, light (pardon the pun) on the facts and figures, but will no doubt build awareness and titillate the curious. 

I know, it's a parody! But a parody of selling something that is actually selling something. For a full dos minutos. So who's getting the last laugh? Hahaha - everybody. Well done, folks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch this thing again. It's like an itch...

Posted In: DRTV Creative

Lunch Lab. Fresh Thinking. New Ideas. Pizza.

By: Jamie McConnell

Despite the 4th quarter chaos, looming deadlines and an inbox full of unread emails, I managed to slip away from my desk to attend The Eicoff Lunch Lab. I mean come on, a person's gotta eat, right?

Matt Cote, Eicoff's VP|Video Innovation, set the tone for his presentation with this thought:

When it comes to innovation, forget the multitude of reasons why something won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.

Innovation seems elusive and complicated, something beyond our control. Also risky, because of a fear of failing, and the fallout from that failure. Being successful requires change, but with change comes uncertainty. Let's face it, none of us are Steve Jobs, creating The Next Big Thing like the brand newest iPhone or what have you. How do we, mere mortals, make innovation happen?

Innovation, Cote explained, doesn’t have to be a big idea homerun like the iPhone. It's simply a question of looking at things differently. As in everything. All the time. It isn’t a department, but rather everyone working together with a common goal: to make the most of every new opportunity to our clients' advantage.

Innovation is at the core of any successful company. Who would have thought that a DRTV Advertising Agency would be finding ways to deliver measurable results via breakthrough technologies like interactive TV, online and mobile video, programmatic/addressable TV? How about a client-customized iChannel? A click-to-buy test on Smart TVs? And what's next?

The question to ask isn't why, but why not.

Lunch Lab is an ongoing series at Eicoff, one of North America's leading DRTV advertising agencies, with presentations and discussions about various topics, from DRTV best practices to what's going on in the advertising industry at large. It's a great way to keep up on the latest, learn something new, etc.

And there's pizza, so...

Posted In: DRTV Best Practices