“Integrate or Be Left Behind”

“Integrate or be left behind” is the DRTV motto for 2013, says Rebecca Barr, VP of U.S. media of direct response ad agency Northern Lights Direct. While Barr admits that this battle cry has echoed throughout the marketing realm for the past few years, she declares it the winning strategy in the fight against market fragmentation.

“Just when you thought the marketplace couldn’t be more fragmented, it is,” Barr says. “Marketers are catching on. The thing [the fragmentation] that was most impactful, [is the thing] they’re starting to capitalize on and work that in their favor.”

The onset of the “second screen” (and, in most cases, the third and fourth screens) is one of the main culprits of market fragmentation, says Barr.

“You can’t do direct response television like you could 15 years ago,” Barr says. “Now, not only are there a lot more stations than there used to be, but it’s…also the rise of the second screen, where not too many people under the age of 55 just watch TV. They watch TV, they have their smartphone in their hand, or their tablet, [or] they’re checking their email…”

However, taking an integrated approach is DRTV marketers’ (not-so) secret weapon. For example, Barr notes that some TV ads invite consumers to download offers to their mobile devices. She also says having an SEM strategy and landing page to complement a brand’s television spot drives interaction and serves as an easy source for additional information.

Multiple screens aren’t the only drivers of the need for marketers to take an integrated approach. Barr partially attributes the integration movement to a related demographic shift. According to Nielsen’s State of the Media: The Cross-Platform Report Q3 2012, adults between the ages of 18 to 24 watched an average of 21 hours and 59 minutes of “traditional TV” weekly in Q3 2012, while adults between the ages of 50 to 64 watched a weekly average of 40 hours and 39 minutes. However, adults 18 to 24 watched an average of one hour and 51 minutes of Internet videos weekly, while those 50 to 64 watched an average of 42 minutes weekly.

“It used to be just the much younger generations were the smartphone users, then businesspeople, [and] now everybody’s got something in their lap when they’re watching TV,” Barr says. “They’re not just watching TV. Nobody fully engages just in TV anymore.”

According to Barr, TV watchers are just starting to skew toward an older demographic. So, if the young consumers won’t go to the TV, DRTV marketers must bring the TV to the consumers to prevent them from cord cutting all together, she says. “If this is your main demographic, you’re going to have to look at supplementing your television campaign with a pre-roll campaign or a deal with Hulu or On Demand to scoop up some of those people who are tuning into the shows …but they’re not doing it through traditional means. So, they’re not seeing the traditional television campaigns,” Barr says.

Barr says the economy also has played a significant role in both helping and hurting the DRTV landscape. However, she says nonprofit DRTV campaigns have taken the biggest blows.

“There’s so much doom and gloom, and people start to hold onto their discretionary income,” Barr says. “While we see opportunity in the marketplace as far as there’s inventory available [and] the rates are available, what we do tend to see is response rates go down [and] charitable giving goes down.”

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