Television: The Newest Channel of Commerce

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?

Better accountability.

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.