Tracking DRTV orders leads to smarter media placement

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Irv Brechner, EVP and partner, Acquirgy
Irv Brechner, EVP and partner, Acquirgy

With 300-plus direct response TV campaigns under our belt and more than 15 years of experience in online customer acquisition, I believe there's nothing more important than wrapping one's head around the critical roles of websites and search in DRTV campaigns. They are all so tightly intertwined and as a result impact your DRTV media planning and buying in a major way. 

Unlike the "old days" where consumers mailed in checks or called a toll-free number, the way consumers respond today is very different. According to an October 2011 study by Nielsen and NM Incite, in an age where 62% of adults in the U.S. watch TV and are online at the same time, consumers have three distinct ways to respond to a DRTV commercial:

  • They can call the toll-free number on the screen.

  • They can go to the URL on the screen.

  • They can go to Google or any other search engine and type in the company, product or service name.

Clearly, that is a lot more complicated than mail or phone orders. We can still track phone orders as we have in the past, but tracking Web orders and what we call "DRTV-driven search" orders are much more complex. The big lesson we learned involves the following:

  • Embrace the notion that the Web and search are response channels. People go to your site or search for your product because they're reacting to an outside stimulus, such as your DRTV campaign. Thinking of your site and search engine marketing as response channels tends to give you a different perspective than if you think of them as something else.

  • Realize that you need to create the most accurate snapshot of where your orders and inquiries are coming from, and don't just make assumptions that have a good chance of being wrong. The reason for creating this response model is that you will wind up making smarter media placement decisions. Since 99% of URLs featured in DRTV commercials have no tracking component, we know 99% of DRTV marketers are not tracking Web activity in the most optimal way. 

  • Recognize that the consumer is in total control over how, when and where he or she responds. It could be a phone call from a landline or a cell phone, going to your site on a laptop at work or a smartphone at the beach, or Googling your product on any of these screens.

Taking the time to create a strategy to correctly track and allocate orders, inquiries and expenses will help you buy more media that's working. It will also help you stop cancelling media placements that appear not to be profitable, but actually are when you factor in all three response channels. That's the No. 1 lesson we learned, one that dwarfs all others.


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