DRTV Agency Eicoff Launches Dot-Com Division

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A. Eicoff & Co., Chicago, a DRTV division of Ogilvy & Mather, launched a new service called HitVision to serve dot-com advertisers.

The agency intends to apply DRTV marketing techniques to dot-com advertising, which is exploding this year as Internet retailers brace for the holiday buying rush.

"Dot-com advertisers are faced with enormous clutter and they are all trying to get a voice," said Rick Sangerman, vice president and director of client services at Eicoff. "The problem with a lot of the dot-com spots I've seen is that they are not benefit-oriented. You still have to sell the benefits."

Selling the benefits is one characteristic of direct response advertising that separates it from branded ads espoused by most of Madison Avenue. Eicoff's clients have operated with a strong imperative to generate a consumer response through an 800 number and the agency wants to apply DRTV techniques to generating Web traffic.

"We are the experts at sending people to an 800 number," he said. "We asked ourselves, 'What's the difference in sending people to a Web site?'"

While brand advertisers pay a premium for guaranteed placements, direct response advertisers buy remnant media at rates discounted by a range of 50 percent to 75 percent. Brand advertisers tend to measure the audience for an advertisement in terms of reach and frequency, while direct response advertisers measure the audience in terms of sales or leads. Direct response advertisers also use lengthier spots of 60 to 120 seconds or half-hour infomercials to demonstrate the features and benefits of a product. Meanwhile, most dot-com ad's are 30 seconds or less, about enough time to show a Web address and a quick explanation of its services.

"We're showing dot-com's how they can get longer-length creative at DR rates," Sangerman said, adding that a key reason for forming the HitVision division was that sales reps from broadcasters said they would consider DR rates for dot-com advertisers.

"We determined in talking to the media people that they would honor our direct response rates whether or not there was an 800 number or a Web site in the spot," he said. "The creative we're doing is a little more DR."

HitVision's clients include Games2Learn.com, an education software company, and MotherNature.com, a retailer of health products. Eicoff's other clients are transitioning their spots to emphasize Web ordering, including Fantom Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners in Toronto, American Blind and Wallpaper home décor and the American Association of Retired Persons, Washington, DC.

HitVision is the second specialized division Eicoff has formed in the last two years. It also launched Eicoff Health to target pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare companies.

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