Data is king when it comes to direct response television. And the great thing about DRTV is that it will show you almost immediately what works and what does not work. You don’t have to worry about ratings, shows, hunches or demos because once you have your lead, website and call data info it will show you where your leads are coming from. Don’t get me wrong – branding info such as ratings, demo and cost per point are important when starting a DRTV campaign from scratch. You can use that info to lay down sound reasoning on where to start your DRTV test, but after that you will use what the data is showing you and make adjustments accordingly.
Negotiate! Negotiate! Negotiate!
For the majority of stations, you can negotiate down (at least a little bit) whatever rates the station sales reps send to you. The reps will usually send you a higher rate than what the average advertiser is paying on that station. I like to ask to pay for anywhere from 25%-50% less than the rates that the rep sends over. You’d be surprised how many times the reps won’t even try to counter your offer and will give you the lower rate. Rates are set according to supply and demand, so a station or show that has lower ratings and less interest from advertisers will have more wiggle room on rate. Popular shows or highly rated shows will have less wiggle room, and if it’s already oversold then you’ll have to pay the premium rate for your spots to clear on those shows or stations.
To go along with lower rates you should also ask for bonus spots and bonus billboards. These usually consist of the station displaying your logo and saying that specific show is “brought to you” by your company. To know if you’re paying too much for your spots, keep an eye on your spots to see if they are clearing at 100% each week with no preemptions. For DRTV to work you need a good frequency during commercials, so you don’t want your spots clearing at 40%-50%. I like to shoot for 85% clearance, that way the majority of your spots each week are running, make goods are easier with only a few spots getting preempted and you know you’re not paying the highest rates on the station.
Competition breeds innovation.
When beginning a DRTV test, looking at where your competition is at is a good place to start. Pulling a Kantar competitive spend report for your company’s competition in the business world is a great way to find out where your competitors are placing TV ads. It will show you how much they are spending on advertising, and more importantly where they are spending their budget. Knowing where your competition spends the most money each month can help you pinpoint good places to test some of your DRTV spots.
Starting a DRTV campaign from scratch means you will have no past data to rely on, so you’ll need to test everything to find out what works and why. Test all different times of the day, from the early morning to daytime to overnights. Test weekends vs. weekdays, and test different spots if you have multiple pieces of creative. Test :30s vs :60s, and test broadcast television against cable networks. Also, don’t forget the little guys such as METV, MYTV, ION and Bounce. These often are forgotten stations, but usually are very cheap and can provide some of the best CPLs (cost per leads) out there. As you get more and more data, you’ll be able to start adding spend to top-performing areas and pulling back spend in the underperforming areas while continuing to test to find your next great lead generating area.
Take care with your creative.
Video may have killed the radio star, but bad creative can kill your DRTV schedule. If your CPL is not where you want it for your DRTV schedule, it actually may not be the shows or stations you’re running on – it could be that the creative you’re using is just not very good. A change and update in creative can make all the difference. Make sure you have a strong call-to-action prominently in the spot, along with the phone number and URL running during the majority of the commercial – not just on the :05 tag at the end. Possible leads will need time to write down the phone number or URL while viewing the commercial. Otherwise you lose DRTV leads and data to organic internet searches.
Want to learn more about direct response TV? Contact our full-service advertising agency in Kansas City to learn more about our DRTV campaign services.
—By Garrett Boal, Senior Media Planner