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DRTV – A Guide by Chamber

DRTV – Why do you think you need it?

Presumably if you are reading this, you have some interest in TV advertising.

When faced with the statement “I want to advertise on TV”, normally the first response from an agency is “How much do you want to spend?” However, the best response is, “Why?”

While available budget shapes most media plans, in a perfect world we’d determine the ideal role for any advertising campaign and then find the money to fund it. This method is particularly relevant for startups raising capital.

TV is able to drive sales for most consumer-facing businesses, but it should be viewed both in terms of your business strategy and its role amongst a broad range of increasingly diverse media channels.

With many e-commerce and DTC brand starting with digital acquisition channels, largely paid search in Google and paid social with Facebook and Instagram, TV can be a great route to move beyond efficient, but sales volume limited, approaches. However, there might be more relevant media channels to consider. Targeting a young urban audience? What about underground OOH (posters)? Have an over 60s audience? Consider a lower risk cost per acquisition press deal.

DRTV – Why do you think you need it?

Presumably if you are reading this, you have some interest in TV advertising.

When faced with the statement “I want to advertise on TV”, normally the first response from a DRTV agency is “How much do you want to spend?” However, the best response is, “Why?”

While available budget shapes most media plans, in a perfect world we’d determine the ideal role for any advertising campaign and then find the money to fund it. This method is particularly relevant for startups raising capital.

TV is able to drive sales for most consumer-facing businesses, but it should be viewed both in terms of your business strategy and its role amongst a broad range of increasingly diverse media channels.

With many e-commerce and DTC brand starting with digital acquisition channels, largely paid search in Google and paid social with Facebook and Instagram, TV can be a great route to move beyond efficient, but sales volume limited, approaches. However, there might be more relevant media channels to consider. Targeting a young urban audience? What about underground OOH (posters)? Have an over 60s audience? Consider a lower risk cost per acquisition press deal.

Considering the different roles of TV

This guide is ultimately focused on direct response television (DRTV), which is focused on driving an immediate action at an efficient cost. But there are different routes, primarily known as brand and brand response TV.

The rest of this article will be dedicated to DRTV, but first we’ll discuss what it isn’t.

For the purposes of this guide we aren’t going to discuss Adsmart or any forms of video on demand/digital TV. Why? Typically these are rarely planned alongside DRTV plans and are normally included in bigger budget brand plans that try and hit audiences who don’t watch as much “regular” linear TV.

Brand TV typically is largely focused on peak (post 6pm) airtime, and is often primarily concerned with ITV1 and Channel 4 traditional terrestrial airtime. Name brand airtime is focused on pushing brand metrics, raising awareness and consideration.

While traditionally the domain of FMCG/retail brands looking to drive preference, it has been readily adopted by digital companies you might consider to have a more immediate short-term response focus.

Price comparison websites are a pertinent example. Their aim is to drive web traffic, but they know that only a small percentage of their audience is in the market for insurance at any one point. They also know that for the majority of the population people have very little interest in their insurance, beyond getting the best price.

So they use peak brand airtime, and use ads containing talking Meerkats and opera singers, to drive consideration for their product. This means that when people drop into market for a view they will visit their site. Their objective is ultimately still web traffic, but they use brand airtime to fuel a long-term objective, accepting that they won’t see enough immediate uplifts to justify the cost.

This route is proven to be very efficient, with the long-term return on investment. While it could be suggested this study has some bias coming from Thinkbox, the body charged with promoting TV, it is based on insight from third party measurement companies Ebiquity and Gain Theory, showing TV is significant.

However, this type of TV typically requires much heavier investment, and pay back is less immediate than direct response TV.

Brand response TV simply uses a combination of brand and direct response airtime. This can be a mixed plan of DRTV and brand airtime running at the same time, however many advertisers use a combination of almost entirely DRTV, with “bursts” of brand airtime at periods.

Depending on your perspective, and often the advertiser, brand response is either seen as the best of both worlds, or doing neither job particularly well. Overall it often represents the first step in an advertising campaign moving from DRTV to brand only plans, and allows DRTV advertisers to progress their TV planning beyond an entirely short-term focus.

Objective Settings

Total clarity with your DRTV agency on the roles and objectives of a TV plan is key. If a brand peak airtime route is taken, stakeholders need to be clear that returns will be less immediate and obvious, and the business needs to believe that building a brand in the long term will pay back.

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On the flipside, don’t expect to walk into a room and have everyone know your brand if you have focused on DRTV airtime. Your efficient immediate response will be at the cost of driving real brand fame.

The worst examples of TV campaigns are not those those with bad plans or creatives, but those where stakeholders aren’t clear on the outputs. Often this can lead to hasty decisions to try and pull or change airtime, ultimately wasting much of the investment.

DRTV, what actually is it?

DRTV represents largely daytime inventory across satellite/multichannel UK TV stations. It represents the airtime that isn’t in demand from brand advertisers who still dominate TV buying.

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Therefore it is priced at a much lower rate than peak airtime on this basis, but is restricted to an all adult buy (whereas peak airtime is typically bought based on the volume of your target audience that was delivered).

Generally, the assumption is that viewers of this type of DRTV airtime are less “involved”: the television is in the background while someone is reading a newspaper, browsing online, the kids are playing, etc. This differs significantly from peak airtime where programming is often focused on high attention, “event led” programming, where people are less likely to respond to a call to action, but more likely to engage in a consumer’s brand and drive longer term perceptions of a brand.

What DRTV is great for

DRTV’s increase in popularity has largely been driven by ecommerce advertisers who have started to maximize the volume of leads they can get from self-serve digital platforms, typically Google Adwords and Facebook, and are looking to increase their customer base.

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On the flipside, don’t expect to walk into a room and have everyone know your brand if you have focused on DRTV airtime. Your efficient immediate response will be at the cost of driving real brand fame.

The worst examples of TV campaigns are not those those with bad plans or creatives, but those where stakeholders aren’t clear on the outputs. Often this can lead to hasty decisions to try and pull or change airtime, ultimately wasting much of the investment.

When DRTV isn’t the best route

While DRTV does expose some audiences to a brand, this type of low attention airtime, the limited number of people who will watch an ad does mean that its ability to drive awareness and consideration for a brand are restricted.

Traditionally, DRTV use is limited to retail and FMCG, where both brand TV and other media channels represent often more efficient routes to drive footfall or sales (and there are some restrictions from TV companies on accepting a DRTV ads without a strong immediate call to action). For brands that have both an ecommerce and retail or FMCG element, brand TV is still often considered the most efficient way of driving returns.