Customized DRTV Blooms for 1-800-Flowers

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A 1-800-Flowers Mother's Day DRTV campaign to consumers in the Los Angeles area that changed ads in mid-run and targeted them down to ZIP codes yielded higher results than non-targeted spots.


"It lets us take a broadcast medium, which can't get that targeted, and make it targeted, more like direct mail," said Sheri Rothblatt, senior vice president and co-media director with Wunderman, 1-800-Flowers' marketing agency.


The two-week campaign, which ran prior to Mother's Day in April and May, was produced using software tools developed by Visible World, an ad technology company. Visible World's technology can record spots in digital format and divide them into separated components so footage, audio and graphics can be remixed digitally without going to the cutting room.


With this technology, DRTV marketers can film different product shots, storylines and narratives, then switch the different prerecorded components as they wish. As campaign results come in, the marketer can give greater prominence to a product that sells well, remove and replace products that sell out or sell poorly, and change offers.


Equipped with the ability to modify DRTV spots on the fly, marketers can divide their target audience into "ad insertion zones," geographic segments of neighborhoods or ZIP codes with unique demographic characteristics. They can then determine a set of rules that delineate which products, offers and storylines should be sent to each zone.


Visible World's system automatically assembles the spots according to the rules set by the marketer and delivers them to the appropriate zones. If the targeted consumers are digital cable subscribers, the system can identify them individually using the unique ID numbers of their set-top boxes and tailor the spot to their individual demographic information.


According to Visible World, the technology does not allow personalization since no consumer names or other personal information can be added into the spots. Instead, it lets marketers customize each ad based on consumer business data.


In the 1-800-Flowers campaign, 3.5 million households in the Los Angeles area were grouped into 79 ad insertion zones. 1-800-Flowers created a storyboard for the campaign that allowed it to switch video content of flowers and gifts, multiple voiceover tracks for different demographic profiles, and variable on-screen text that generated a countdown to Mother's Day.


"There's some expense increase in making sure you have all the eventualities covered," said Pamela Knox, senior vice president of marketing for 1-800-Flowers. "In terms of monitoring, it's not overly arduous. It's a matter of staying on top of it."


The ads ran on 30 cable channels. The campaign was tested against a control, a standard DRTV ad that ran a week prior to the Visible World ad on broadcast media with equal spending levels.


To determine whether responses and sales were coming from the control ads or the customized ads, 1-800-Flowers asked consumers to use product codes when they ordered. Consumers didn't always remember their codes when they called, so test results were limited.


However, the results that did come in showed that, measured by product code, the Visible World ads generated double the orders of the control ad. Average order sizes were also $4 higher than the control.


1-800-Flowers hopes to test Visible World's targeted DRTV again, Knox said, though she did not disclose plans for future marketing efforts.


The value of the technology is that it lets marketers make adjustments in real time, which can be difficult with standard media, Knox said.


"I think it's got great possibilities," she said. "Something that sells well in Chicago or New York may be entirely different than what sells in Los Angeles."


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