The Power of Low & Consistent DRTV Spending

A potential retail oriented DRTV client once opened our meeting with “this needs to be a top 5 show”. I responded “Why? What is the difference for your business between a top 5 and a top 30 show?” He was speechless. They’d never really wondered. It was just a goal set by their traditional DRTV media buying group.

In truth, all advertising is far too often driven by lore and anecdote – even when it comes to media spending. And DRTV is no different. So I’ve been fascinated by DRTV’s obsession with massive spending – especially when the product is at retail. Read more of this post

The Power of Low & Consistent Mass Media Spending

Advertising is far too often driven by lore and anecdote – even when it comes to media spending.

So it was refreshing to read Byron Sharp’s latest post “A Little Advertising Goes a Long Way” (link here). Sharp focuses on campaigns with huge media bursts and finds that far too often they’re tremendously inefficient. Read more of this post

New Book: “Building Brand with Direct Response Television”

With the October edition of Response Magazine, we have released my book “Building Brand with Direct Response Television“. This book takes an unusual look at DRTV – focusing on it’s biggest potential power: building brands while driving immediate sales (at retail as well as direct).

This book is the result of the past decade when I’ve written extensively about direct response television (DRTV) and it pulls together a comprehensive view of how DRTV can build brand, drive retail, and, in the process, dramatically change the marketing game. Read more of this post

Why I Don’t Use Dial Testing (Perception Analyzers) to Research Infomercials

I’ve spent nearly 20 years improving infomercial sales based on audience testing our shows in research. To do this, we don’t use dial groups. That surprises many of my colleagues so I’m regularly asked “why”. Read more of this post

Want Consumers To Pay Attention To Your Ads? Make Them Meaningful.

A few weeks ago I ran across this article titled “Four Reasons Why We Choose to Watch Ads”. Seemed like a smart read because I always love to see simple lists about advertising. Read more of this post

An Axiom For New Media: Big Numbers are NOT the Same as Meaningful Numbers

It seems like everything we hear about the new media world is based on big numbers. Hundreds of millions of these and bazillions of those – all delivered with mega-pico-tetra zillions of impressions. Why do we keep falling for big numbers?

I have this theory that we all have an instinctive built-in “adjustment” we apply to sales or promotional numbers. It goes like this: “They say it will save me thousands of dollars. I bet they’re over-stating. But if it still saves me hundreds, I’m happy. So I’ll buy it.” Unfortunately, once the numbers are big enough, our instinctive adjustment isn’t enough – but we use it anyway.

The yell & sell infomercial guys figured this out long ago. In yell & sell, they often make the numbers so huge that even after we adjust the numbers, they’re still impressive. And the truth is, manipulation with these numbers sells a lot of product. (There’s probably an interesting dissertation for someone in figuring out the differences between categories where we adjust by 20% and others where we adjust by an order of magnitude as in my example.)

New media evangelists have picked up this yell & sell gamut and draped it with the credibility of being “measured ROI”, by having the numbers come from a research firm, or by having them “audited”.

Here’s a great Lady Gaga one I heard at a Google presentation: “Lady Gaga posted a music video and got 95 million views in a year. Just think about it, only 500,000 people are watching MTV at any point in time.” Read more of this post

Do You Insult Consumer Intelligence With Entertainment Value?

I wrote recently about the advertising business’s mis-understanding of the idea of “likability”. I think we have a similar problem with the idea of “entertainment”.

Listen to many agencies and you’ll think that the only things that entertain are movies, concerts, comedy shows, and video games. That’s quite scary because movies, concerts, comedy shows, and video games FAIL TO ENTERTAIN far more than they succeed.

So the good news for the ad business is that people are more interesting than Hollywood thinks. Read more of this post

The Yell & Sell Approach to DRTV Decreases Retail Impact.

There’s no myth I hate more than the idea that DRTV’s primary role for companies is driving direct sales. Yes, I know DRTV stands for “Direct Response Television” and that we put “direct” into the medium’s title. But while DRTV is direct, it’s also much, much more.

Today, DRTV’s roles for companies covers a wide range of brand and sales objectives — roles that are critical for those companies strategic success. In delivering on these objectives, direct sales or direct responses are typically critical, but they are often only one part of the total picture.

For example, when a product hits the air and is at retail simultaneously, between 7 and 20 units are sold at retail for every single unit sold directly to consumers. DRTV’s biggest profit opportunity is at retail. But many yell & sell practitioners haven’t really worked this reality into their thinking.

When you stick with the 1980’s format for DRTV (like many still do), you make driving direct sales into your sole goal. But there is clear evidence that these approaches DECREASE retail sales dramatically. In other words, pulling out all the stops to get every last possible direct sale appears to drive away more retail consumers than it gains in direct sales.

Read my latest article in Response Magazine for more thoughts about the balance of direct and retail sales – two of Atomic’s Six Degree’s for Maximum DRTV Impact. Then watch for two more articles this year to cover the remaining 4 degrees.

While you’re there, check out what Response’s Editorial Board (including yours truly) says about the last 25 years and next 25 years for DRTV.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett

Can QVC Succeed with Instant TV Ordering Where Everyone Else has Failed?

QVC Wants to Eliminate Telemarketing Costs with Instant TV Ordering

There’s news out this week the QVC is going to seek one of the tech world’s holy grails of TV advertising: easy ordering directly through your TV. Isn’t it tremendous that the technology is finally ready for this great step forward?

Not really. Since the early 1990’s, system after system has been tried with the grand promise that easy ordering from TV will deliver outstanding results. And, it’s failed every time.

Instant TV ordering hasn’t failed due to technology problems. It’s failed because consumers really don’t care. Let’s look at the consumer equation…

Many consumers like to pick up the phone to talk to a live operator and place an order. It’s a pretty simple low cost operation. Even better, the consumer gets a value from the phone call. Their order is taken in a low risk situation by a live operator. They can ask one or two questions to be certain they know the price, control shipping options, seek guarantee details, etc…

Other consumers prefer to go online to seek the same information, review what other people say about the product, possibly chat with an operator via the computer, and then order when they’re comfortable.

In other words: Today’s system is low pain and low risk while delivering important consumer value.

That hasn’t been true of instant ordering. Instant ordering eliminates the important information possible through other mediums and increases the potential of making an error that can’t be corrected except by refusing the order when UPS arrives.

And that’s why past tests have failed: there was no consumer problem to be solved AND instant ordering increased perceived risk.

Note carefully: these are consumer problems, not technology problems!!!!

There is a chance QVC’s effort might work. And that opportunity comes from two advantages.

1. The cost of implementing this is relatively low given digital cable progress. So, there’s no added cost to the consumer and QVC doesn’t need stellar results for it to work and pay-per-view has habituated consumers to ordering content instantly on the TV.

2. QVC has a dedicated repeat purchasing audience of around 3% to 5% of the population. Like Amazon’s one click ordering, they have higher trust meaning that consumers might perceive less risk than they have in past tests.

Who knows what will happen. Based on past experience, I would have put the chances for success below 20% (that’s more than double what I’d give other instant TV ordering efforts).

Then, I read QVC’s announcement. The announcement focuses how great it will be to reduce telemarketing costs. That’s a bad start for delivering value to consumers and now I’m tempted to lower my estimate of success. (And I’m definitely not naive enough to believe QVC’s going to use those reduced costs to drop prices.)

QVC needs to learn quick: this must be a consumer effort. It will only work by delivering value to their consumers. QVC and Ensequence need only take a brief tour around the junkyard of failed TV technology to see that just because a company wants a technology to work doesn’t mean it will.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

Old Spice? Same old problem. Agencies Need to Learn Business Planning Skills

A few years ago I heard an author speak about his new advertising book. His primary claim was that clients turn down great creative because they are ignorant. Challenging thought. And wrong.

In my experience, creative is approved more often and more easily when agencies have the business skills needed to explain work’s impact in business terms. But a vast number of agencies, lacking these skills, seek to avoid having campaigns measured for business impact.

And so, let’s consider the recent discussions of the Old Spice campaign. Interpretation of results from this campaign are in a bit of flux. Last week, we were informed the campaign had become a social phenomenon – spreading like wildfire on the web and on social media. Millions of clicks and multiple fan sites made it a social “happening”. Of course, clicks are pretty meaningless. So we were also informed that the TV campaign had delivered astounding sales – leading social media “experts” to crown the campaign with glory.

Then there was the weekend. Now AdAge has found that what we were told may be entirely false. They found that Old Spice had a good quarter at retail – just like their competitors. Old Spice retail numbers were primarily driven by coupon efforts – just like their competitors. And all the percentages of growth are remarkably similar to their competitors with similar coupon efforts. In other words, it looks like the much touted campaign had little to no impact (Note: AdWeek erred by analyzing the campaign in a vacuum – without the competitive context.)

Whoever was analyzing the campaign before AdAge got hold of it lacked the business foundation necessary for the analysis. Of course, I don’t know who hoisted the “Mission Accomplished” banner. But in the cases I’ve been close to, it’s typically the agency who takes this step.

Agencies Need to Add Skills to Focus on Business Impact

Clients should be angry that the advertising business accepts stories like this one about Old Spice at face value. And they should demand that agencies take substantive action to merge their planning with business realities.

Merely discussing obscure (and highly clever) brand theories is not the same as discussing a business result. Business results must be closely tied to market share or the P&L. Based on our success at Atomic Direct, I’d start with four key changes.

1. Agencies need to choose to care about business results. Agency culture honors awards and new business wins far above client business results. So hiring new skills won’t make a difference unless the culture changes with a long-term effort that focuses every agency activity with expectations for client business results.

2. Agencies need to hire new skill sets – people with the ability to plan and analyze business results from advertising. These people are most needed in strategy, planning & client services. Then they are needed to influence every part of agency work. After all, great creatives aren’t often good at business. And that’s okay when, as we’ve done at my agency, they work closely with people who are skilled at leveraging advertising creativity for business impact.

3. Agencies need to stop using “long term brand impact” as the catch-all excuse to justify ineffective campaigns. I expect that next week we’ll hear that Old Spice’s intense social media interest will deliver improved brand value over 1 to 3 years. It might. But clients shouldn’t trust this logic at face value. Future payout is a business result and that means there should be ways to reasonably estimate the size of that impact.

4. Agencies need to develop a robust language for different types of business impact. Advertising isn’t a one note theme where immediate cash register sales are only possible business result. But today even the best textbooks lack the sophistication to help avid students define business goals and measure results.

Weak Planning for Clients Leads to Weak Agency Relationships

Old Spice is an old story – mass awareness and cultural buzz without business impact. Agencies used to get away with stories like this. But clients are taking a more serious look at the impact of their advertising.

In part, the arrival of new media has given them new opportunity to investigate relative effectiveness. With agencies eager to play in this new sandbox, clients have switched spending from old media to new – seeking higher returns from a response measured medium.

From what I can see, they have only rarely found that new media creates higher returns (and I think we’ll only find Old Spice results become fewer and fewer now that they’ve fully embraced social media). But clients have also seen something more troubling. Too often their business results haven’t suffered when they shift money from traditional campaigns to new media. Social media advocates want to claim this reflects social media strength. I disagree. The measured social media impacts I’ve seen for mass market products are really bad.

Instead, what these clients have found reflects the fact that lacking good business planning, none of their campaigns (traditional or new media) are delivering good business results.

And so, clients should demand business results from all advertising – old media OR new. But agencies shouldn’t fear this change. Agencies who develop these skills will return to a stronger position – as a partner to their clients.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett