Make the most of the coveted two-minute time spot

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For those of us who have been in the business long enough to know, the direct response television arena has changed dramatically over the past 35 years. But one fact remains constant: a direct sell spot campaign is heavily dependent upon its two-minute creative.

In today's DRTV media buying world, there's a common belief that 120-second time slots, known as "deuces," are impossible or, at the very least, extremely hard to find. It is true that given the supply and demand nature of airtime, two-minute inventories are not always abundant. But given that the goal of a DRTV business is to generate profits, these spots can be an important part of a strategy designed to maximize results.

For product sales and some high-end lead generation programs, a 120-second spot allows more than 100 seconds of selling time -an essential element for a program's success. Compare that to a 60-second spot, which only allows for 40 to 45 seconds of sell time - making its sell time less than half of the 120-second time slot. The end tag (CTA) of either length needs to reinforce the offer, resell the need and prompt the viewer to respond now, taking another 15 to 20 seconds off, regardless of the original length. Due to the greater sell time and the fact that a one-minute spot can cost more than half of the two-minute rate, the 120-second spot has long been known as the DRTV workhorse. Because 120-second spots typically generate significantly stronger results than 30- or 60-second spots, program success can become dependent upon their results. Media buyers must therefore capitalize on every opportunity when it comes to securing two-minute spots.

When media avails are just plain tight, strong media agency/station relationships can prove critical in winning the battle for these 120-second times. When a strong relationship is in place, a station can be more willing to negotiate, resulting in greater opportunity for the client. Creative spot placement and capitalizing on a variety of time periods - in tandem with the shorter length spots - can be the difference between a program's success and failure.

But acquiring media time for two-minute spots is only the first step to ensuring a campaign's overall success. Utilizing a 60-second spot to accommodate two-minute inventory problems, station policy, or PIs and bonus airings, balancing 60- and 120-second spots for a campaign becomes critical to the bottom line. Capitalizing upon seasonal opportunities - "fire sales," holiday availabilities, promotional programming, PIs - are critical shifts in buying practices between 120- to 60-second spots, while maintaining campaign results. These proactive techniques are vital for a campaign's success and growth. This is when the skills of an experienced media agency pay off in spades.

So the next time someone says two-minute time is hard to get, think about the last direct response spot that piqued your interest? Was it a two minute? The truth is two-minute time is a dinosaur; after all it's been with us for decades and it's not yet extinct. But for direct-to-consumer sales, the dinosaur deuce is truly the darling of DRTV.

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