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Direct Response or Brand? No Need to Choose - You Can Do Both!

When planning a new TV campaign, determining the best buy strategy to deliver maximum ROI is always the first nut to crack. If you are in the business of direct selling or lead generation, should you stick with a pure Direct Response strategy or focus on branding? Or can you do both?

In the past (we can safely call them the old days now — they aren’t coming back) there was a well-defined division between direct response campaigns and brand campaigns. Sure you would see the occasional cross-over from giant brand advertisers like Sears, The Home Depot or Lands’ End dipping their toe into the once shunned direct response waters, but rarely would you see direct response campaigns taking the plunge in the deep end of the pool.

Fast-forward to the — let’s call them the “new days” — where old rules are out the window: no one uses a telephone to buy things anymore and while people still tune into primetime TV, they aren’t necessarily fully engaged.

New Days, New Rules

Historically, direct sell and lead-gen advertisers have stuck with a traditional direct response approach to TV. Spot lengths were 60 or 120-seconds, there was always a phone number and everyone stayed far, far away from the more expensive TV real estate like prime. The TV landscape has shifted significantly over the last 10 years and change continues to happen on a near daily basis.

One massive impact to DRTV has been the advent of the web and paid search, which for some products make unique toll-free numbers (TFNs) and call centers a thing of the past. Arguably as significant is the ability to measure online traffic/lead gen/ sales influenced by TV. Brand tactics like program-specific placement and on-screen sponsorships can now be measured. Assumptions about the effectiveness of your spot placements based on ratings are now replaced with assumptions which fuel attribution models.

Program-specific/high-profile placements were once side-stepped by DR advertisers unless they could be secured at a fire sale rate; the branding was great (we assumed) but people were once so engrossed in their appointment TV watching that they were loath to miss even a couple minutes to pick-up the call and order something they saw on TV.

With the rise of the second and third screen, people multi-task; they loosely follow their show while simultaneously searching for a product on their phone or tablet (same goes for app downloads). As people search and research your product, the responsibility for conversion shifts to the website; no longer are we relying on a 1- to 2-minute spot to pre-qualify respondents. With most sales and lead gen now happening online, the spot lengths have reduced to 30- or 15-seconds which significantly reduces media costs for the same amount of eyeballs.

Are You Saying What I Think You’re Saying?

In the new age of conversion and measurement, it is time to employ a blended or hybrid approach in your direct sales and lead gen campaigns. The previous standard DR strategy of targeting low reach/high frequency opportunities now appear as noise in the attribution model, where the traffic they drive most likely won’t exceed the baseline. Adding a layer of higher reach, program-specific spots will boost your traffic, build your brand, scale you acquisition and deliver on your ROI objectives.

Go ahead and dive in . . . the water is pleasant (and profitable!).

About the author

Rebecca Barr, Executive Vice President, Media Strategy & Investment

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