DRTV changes channels

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A multichannel approach provides a clearer picture of DRTV's potential
A multichannel approach provides a clearer picture of DRTV's potential

Pat McLean, VP of digital brand strategies for Capital One, emphasizes that the bank's goal through its DRTV efforts has been, “to take this direct response engagement model to a more affluent crowd in a younger and more tech-savvy demographic.” He adds that this audience “makes a statement about our brand, that we're digitally forward-thinking and have the type of brand and type of product that is relevant to that more tech-savvy crowd.”

Providing incentives valuable to prospects is vital to ensuring this sort of engagement, according to McLean. To create these incentives, Capital One began using Viggle, a loyalty program for television that rewards individuals who check in to shows they're watching. The program launched earlier this year with Capital One, along with Pepsi, Gatorade, and other major brands serving as strategic partners. Viewers watching various TV content are directed to unlock additional Capital One content that's related to what they're seeing.

“The best example of this interaction was during the NCAA basketball tournament when we were heavy in DRTV weight and had a heavy presence on Viggle,” says McLean. “As Viggle users interacted during the NCAA, they were exposed to additional content sponsored by Capital One [and] related to the tournament—trivia and so on—that allowed them to earn more Viggle points.”

Weaving DRTV into standard programming

Narrative DRTV ads with high production values can also drive viewers to branded websites, continuing the offline experience online. To engage prospects, marketing analytics firm Turn Inc. used a cliffhanger narrative for its high-profile B2B DRTV spot during the June 10 Mad Men season finale. Knowing the show's audience includes marketing executives, Turn's DRTV spot also provided data for a case study on its cross-channel analytics platform.

Q&A: Kevin Harrington, chairman & founder, TVGoods, Inc.

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The spot, developed with Turn's agency of record Gyro, used a 1960s ad agency setting and a narrative of a woman angrily shooting at her cheating man to emphasize the 10-millisecond speed of Turn's platform. The spot directed viewers to the microsite turn.com/decision where they could view three alternate endings to the spot, read a diary on the making of the film, and were prompted to enter their email addresses to receive further information.

“It's hard to explain the technology of what we do to someone who doesn't understand it, so being able to take the idea and apply it to something people can identify in the real world makes that connection for the customer,” says Paul Alfieri, VP of global marketing for Turn Inc.

Turn will draft a case study on the spot using its own analytical tools to measure the ad's impact, and then make that available to prospects. While the TV spot was a one-time campaign piece, the company approached it as part of a multichannel B2B marketing push. “We're looking at this as a fully integrated package with TV, online, and also PR and social, all working in concert to do this. We need to have all those elements there,” Alfieri says.

Tracking troubles rear their head

Perhaps the biggest challenge for DRTV marketers operating in a digital world is the muddling effect that online ordering has had on tracking efforts. For most of its history, DRTV drove consumers to place orders through an easily-tracked phone number that varied depending on the time and station that ran the ad.

“That was a very easy business model from an attribution standpoint,” says Rob Medved, CEO of Cannella Response Television. “Marketers and agencies could easily evaluate the media based on the revenue or orders or whatever measurement was triggering the response for that individual piece of media.”

The Internet, before it became standard in households, initially had only a modest impact on the DRTV industry. Medved estimates that about 15% of revenue came in through the Web. But as consumers became increasingly comfortable with online ordering, the percentage of online revenue also increased; now 50% of orders occur online instead of via the phone.

“Marketers don't know how to attribute those online sales back to a specific piece on TV, so they put it back in as a single line item,” he says.

Digital attribution can be easier in limited or local market media, where a team can review the zip codes of the order files or the IP addresses of where the order came from to get a better sense of attribution. But in broader campaigns, spending goes beyond individual pieces of media.

A popular solution to this has been to add a backslash to the on-screen URL, such as taebo.com/tbs for a Taebo commercial that runs on TBS. But this has met with mixed results as most consumers tend to input the basic URL and ignore anything after “.com.”

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