The line in the sand differentiating Direct Response Marketing and traditional advertising is beginning to erode, with today’s prime-time commercials taking a page from the DR book. The elements that mark a true DRTV spot – an immediate call to action, unique offer, premiums, etc. – are now creeping into prime-time ads. Many traditional ad agencies are adopting the DRTV model in order to take advantage of lower media costs. As a result, networks have raised ad prices, forcing DRTV clients to come up with ways to bring in incremental revenue to support TV spend.
Traditionally, direct response marketing has been highly effective in helping companies launch new products because they could afford the lower, discounted rates available to DR marketers. Escalating ad costs and minimum requirements means fewer products will get launched through DR – and never see the light of day at retail. Direct Response will lose the advantage as a low cost method for launching new products and the hesitancy in DRTV media buys will mean less overall money for the networks.
While networks are looking at the immediate gain they are receiving from charging higher media prices, they need to appreciate the long-term effect this will have. The new rates may cause many DRTV clients to cancel day time/prime time spots, and force them to run during the cheaper overnight counterpart. As long standing partners of these networks, direct response marketers are forced to re-evaluate where they invest their media buys. As Don Draper of Mad Men once said, “Sometimes you have to dance with the one you came with.”