DRTV scraps low-rent ad form image to embrace interactivity on Web platforms

It’s not just about 800-numbers anymore. Direct response TV, once seen as a low-rent ad form, is quickly gaining momentum, as leading national advertisers embrace the medium and integrate it with other digital platforms. Advertisers increasingly are using DRTV for brand building, directing viewers to seek more information, download coupons online or make contact via social media.?

That has also expanded the range of advertisers using DRTV including Volkswagen of America, Pizza Hut and Samy Fat Foam Hair Color. Western Creative developed a DRTV ad for TV and online for Fat Foam, as a preroll ad on video sites. It also has a call-to-action to go online for a discount coupon.?

“There’s this whole idea of brand response,” says Scott Pinkney, VP and creative director of Proximity Canada. “It’s not only driving to an 800-number, but also to a microsite or Web page.” ?

For example, Proximity China recently launched a direct response ?campaign that includes TV, inviting consumers to design a Volkswagen model online.?

Leesa Eichberger, VP of marketing at Vonage, says the telecom does extensive DRTV, layering it with other efforts such as direct mail. This summer it will launch its first mobile and social media campaigns, integrated with DRTV spots. “We consider all our advertising to be DR in nature,” Eichberger says. “If it doesn’t get a ?response, we don’t do it.”?

Spending on DRTV, which is on track to rise 6% this year compared with 2010, is expected to grow at an even faster clip in the coming years. By 2014, the spending on segment is expected to increase 7.1% year-?over-year, to $6.4 billion reports the media investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson.?

The integration of other channels, such as websites, social media, mobile and text messaging, into DRTV campaigns will speed growth, says George Cole, partner of VSS ?Structured Capital Funds.?

“It isn’t as they said [before]: ‘Go to the 800-number.’ It’s ‘go online,’ it’s search, it’s Facebook, it’s ‘go to ?YouTube.’ It’s all that range,” explains Lynn Fantom, CEO of the direct response agency ID Media. ?

As research has shown, viewers are multitasking as they watch TV, so integrating those digital channels is adapting to their behavior, she says. ?

DRTV had been in decline but now is set to “explode” due to the emergence of new technologies and the growing pressure to show results, notes Tom Marsillo, SVP of cable network Zee TV. ?

Advertisers are coming into the medium and making higher quality creative, says Marsillo. Back in his days at the Spanish-language TV network Univision, he recalls, programmers would say DRTV made the schedule look cheap.

Blue-chip marketers such as Johnson & Johnson are embracing DRTV, giving the medium legitimacy, Marsillo says. J&J used long- and short-form DRTV for the launch of its Neutrogena skiniD line and to drive online traffic and couponing for its Clean & Clear brand. ?

Technologies such as quick response codes and smartphones are helping to drive DRTV’s growth. Innovations such as interactive advertising and Web-enabled TV still don’t have enough penetration to make a mark, but are expected to have greater ?impact as they grow in reach. ?

Cole noted that Pizza Hut tested interactive ads allowing the consumer to place a pizza order via DRTV, while CNN promos direct viewers via Web-enabled TVs to the network’s website.?

“The whole interactivity feature is what DRTV is all about,” says Cole. “The fact that you will have an easier interface and a more user-friendly ?interface will help.”

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