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Facts Versus Fiction: Debunking The Myths Around DRTV And Performance Marketing

Facts Versus Fiction: Debunking The Myths Around DRTV And Performance Marketing

Author: Dick Wechsler

Date: September 10, 2020

I admit — I have a chip on my shoulder. 

For more than 30 years, I’ve heard people disparage and belittle direct-response television (DRTV): “you mean the stuff that runs overnight? “No brand would want to run there.” I beg to differ.

For several years, DRTV and performance-driven marketing have been the growth catalysts for the direct-to-consumer (D2C) and e-commerce sectors.

For example, DRTV was a big part of Peloton’s journey from startup to much-loved category disruptor and then to public company. Performance marketing provided Peloton with a launchpad for accelerated growth and awareness. 

This January, everything changed. The global COVID-19 pandemic hit, D2C marketing exploded and e-commerce experienced an acceleration unlike any other.

As a result, many companies doubled down on their D2C efforts. Any resistance that consumers may have had toward e-commerce quickly evaporated.

A surging pandemic and shelter-at-home orders made e-commerce the safe and preferred way to purchase groceries and household necessities.

Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, reported that their e-commerce sales grew from 33% to 282% from February through April. This surge demanded data-driven insights and flexibility across all aspects of business, from supply chain to marketing.

So it’s a good time to address common DRTV misconceptions.

The truth is that DRTV is accountable, measurable, and flexible. It drives revenue, growth and scale while delivering efficiencies and building awareness.

Fiction #1: “DRTV runs in cheap, low-value inventory that no other advertisers want.”

Fact: DRTV is a four-letter acronym, not a dirty word. It is a performance marketing strategy that runs in all dayparts — from early morning through prime time — on all networks.

DRTV is purchased in the scatter market, often on a preemptive basis at a distinct discount.

It offers marketers a significant price advantage over the general market, expanding their reach and diversifying their viewership on the same desired budget.

Fiction #2: “Clearance is unreliable. Campaigns are likely to over-clear or under-clear and no one can run a successful business with that uncertainty.”

Fact: Yes, DRTV is often — but not always — purchased preemptively. Clearance and delivery are not often guaranteed — however, they are tightly tracked and assessed daily to meet and exceed goals.

A dedicated team of people, not computers, that continuously gather and analyze pre-logs to gauge clearance helps to ensure this. Ratings are also tracked daily, fostering flexible schedules that are continuously tweaked in-flight to meet budget and deliver KPIs.

Performance marketing thrives on efficiencies. DRTV is often purchased on a preemptive basis to take advantage of inefficiencies in the media market to secure the lowest possible rate and to deliver greater ROI.

Fiction #3: “You can’t control frequency or the programming in which campaigns will air.”

Fact: Yes, you actually can control frequency and programming. All schedules are purchased in clearly defined time frames with established daily clearance and separation guidelines. Furthermore, ‘Do Not Air’ lists are also included in broadcast orders as dictated by advertisers.

Fiction #4: “A DRTV impression is less effective than a ‘brand’ buy.”

Fact: Why would a spot purchased in the scatter market that clears at 9 AM, 3 PM and 9 PM be any less effective than a commercial that was purchased on a guaranteed basis — at a higher price — that airs at the same exact times on the same exact networks? It just isn’t so.

The difference? The DRTV or performance marketing scatter buy likely cost a whole lot less, driving down the cost per point, cost per thousand and cost per acquisition.

Fiction #5: “You can’t accurately measure the impact of video (TV, DRTV, any broadcast) on digital.”

Fact: There are effective attribution models that can track, measure and analyze the impact of TV on digital and e-commerce daily.

Real-time insights allow for continuous campaign optimization and daily scaling. Along with these insights, performance marketing also offers a deeper understanding of customer behaviors than most common digital “vanity metrics” would, delivering on traditional KPIs like reach, frequency and share of voice, with the added flexibility, efficiency and accountability needed today.

The profound shifts that have been triggered in D2C marketing and e-commerce by COVID-19 now affect everything from consumer-packaged goods to groceries, automobiles, personal health, and home furnishings. In lockstep, the demand for DRTV, measured media and performance marketing has grown.

So it’s time to recognize them as strategies that satisfy the needs of a shifting D2C and e-commerce landscape: real-time insights, flexibility, measured performance and ROI in today’s constantly changing, multichannel marketing environment. 

Better planning & measurement start here. Let’s get to work!

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