DRTV marketers tune out social

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A self-proclaimed media agnostic, InterMedia Advertising's president and CEO, Robert Yallen, says there's one channel he discourages marketers from integrating into their DRTV spots: social media. The social channel in particular has proven to be challenging for direct marketers whose calls-to-action (CTAs) are focused on making a sale as opposed to generating brand recognition or accumulating “likes.”

“You see a lot of advertisers now using Facebook and YouTube as part of the CTA at the end of a spot. I think this is a mistake because we believe that you need to ask for the sale.” Yallen says. “Why point [customers] in a direction where they're going to get information from other sources and possibly even be pushed to a competitor? It reminds us of the good old days of Yellow Pages where many advertisers used to make the mistake of, ‘Look for our ad in the Yellow Pages,' which is the worst possible tactical error somebody could make, because now you're pushing them right to your  competitors,” he adds.

Though Yallen acknowledges that consumers will always flock to their social networks to gain information and reviews from their peers, DRTV marketers need to point prospects to those traditional channels like the phone that are most conducive to selling.

“We want customers to call the call center and or log on immediately and communicate with the advertiser directly because we want the immediate sale,” Yallen says. “This is less brand-focused and more sale-focused… In our opinion digital supports DRTV. Not the other way around.”

One of the issues with digital and social media is attribution, especially when advertisers rely on a single URL or a vanity toll-free number. Some direct response agencies, like InterMedia, have developed tracking and optimization algorithms. “All tracking systems are directional at best,” Yallen concedes, “but we believe that we're able to make very informed decisions that continue to allow us to meet or exceed our clients' goal metrics.”

But the biggest pain point faced by direct response marketers is the fragmentation of the media landscape. While cable and national broadcast syndication—as opposed to digital or social presence—are vital for direct response efforts, Yallen points out that this area is growing increasingly competitive.

The headache for many direct response advertisers is that rates continue to increase as audiences and, by extension, consumer response rates continue to decline. These issues have prompted the need for more flexible pricing and media delivery options, Yallen says, such as performance-based advertising and unwired television networks, which ensure that DRTV spots don't air at the same time across various television markets, giving marketers more control over which audiences view the spots.

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