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Ten Tips to Manage Your DRTV Media - Canadian Market

The Basics:

  1. Use a unique toll-free number for each station
    Every station, market, daypart and/or program is going to generate a different response at a different cost per. Simply put, not using a unique toll-free number for each station severely impacts the optimization process, which essentially means you are not making the most of your advertising investment. More importantly, there is little argument against using unique toll-free numbers, as the cost is incremental in relationship to the total campaign investment. It’s worth the money. Just do it.
  2. Enable tracking beyond calls
    Optimizing DRTV media based solely on calls is equivalent to making web decisions based solely on traffic. Of course, it’s a key indicator, but not necessarily the whole story. Some stations may generate a ton of call volume, but the quality of those leads may not be as strong as another station that generates half the call volume at a lower cost. Trying to optimize your media without that level of additional detail means you are likely leaving a significant amount of untapped opportunity on the table. Well before the launch of a campaign, invest the time to understand the attribution capabilities and challenges within the current sales process, and the tweaks required to enable detailed tracking of all core response metrics. The extra time and energy is guaranteed to be well spent.
  3. Optimize your call centre script
    This may sound straightforward, but it’s surprising how many times advertisers invest heavily in a direct response campaign only to watch response go off the deep end because they don’t have the right systems in place to convert the calls they are paying to drive. You have generated the interest, now close the sale. Prior to a campaign launch, invest the time and energy to understand how you are currently servicing calls, and develop a conversion-oriented call centre script that will turn prospects into customers. Lastly, invest in the necessary training of call centre agents to ensure they are clear on expectations, establish a process to monitor call centre performance on an ongoing basis, and make adjustments as needed.

If it’s not working:

  1. Cut it
    If clearance was unaffected and spots ran more or less as planned, it’s unlikely that any amount of optimization will pull a rabbit out of a hat, especially during a short flight. It may be better to cut your losses early and focus your attention on where there are signs of life.

If there are signs of life:

  1. Narrow dayparts/programs
    Leverage state-of-the-art media technology to layer spot placement against response to identify potential peaks and valleys. For example, if you are getting a higher response in the afternoon daypart, which is also 20% cheaper than the morning, tweak your spot distribution accordingly and measure the corresponding impact on response and overall cost efficiency. Similarly, look for commonalities in the types of programs that are driving higher response and leverage those insights to fine-tune your DRTV media buy.
  2. Bonusing/rate reduction opportunities
    Beyond the basics, much of what makes or breaks a media buy comes down to relationships and the effective management of a media buy. Engaging your reps in the success of a campaign will help support your ongoing negotiations. Keep them in the loop on performance expectations and when weeks may be falling short. For the most part, reps would rather work with you to get a campaign where it needs to be than cancel a buy outright. Look at rate flexibility, priority bonusing, etc. On the flip side, make sure you share your successes in addition to the failures.
  3. Manage clearances
    Without effective management of media clearance, the race is pretty much over before the horse even leaves the gate. Many advertisers will frequently aim for the lowest rate possible, and then one week into a campaign find they are clearing less than 50% of what they booked. As a result, response isn’t where it needs to be. A seasoned media buyer will be able to evaluate the landscape and make a recommendation as it relates to buying pre-emptable or non-pre-emptible inventory in line with campaign objectives.
  4. Lock in top performers
    Strong success right out of the gate? Lock it in as soon as possible. Leverage your rep relationships to negotiate a competitive 52-week deal that will deliver the cost per efficiency you need, with guaranteed visibility throughout the year. This will allow you to mitigate any typical seasonality curves as well.
  5. Test optimal frequency
    Frequently overlooked, testing optimal frequency levels by station can have a significant impact on overall performance. Particularly with core performers, understanding how much weight you can add before efficiency is impacted is extremely valuable for any campaign. On the flip side, you may be overinvesting in a station and can pull back moderately on frequency, and still drive the same level of response but at a significantly cheaper cost per. You’ll never know unless you test!
  6. Creative and offer testing
    Once your media buy is humming along, creative and offer testing is really the next level in optimizing any DRTV media buy, and often what has the most significant impact on response. Engage your creative and digital teams to brainstorm ideas on which variables to test, based on available multichannel learnings. From a media perspective, ensure you structure a controlled media test with a clear set of objectives and consensus on how the test will be evaluated. Lastly, give the test enough time to run in order to draw conclusive results, and try to concentrate any testing outside of peak response periods.

Getting off to the right start

The measured media landscape is dynamic and constantly evolving. Without the proper resources and expertise, a campaign could be dead in the water and may never get the opportunity to pass go and collect $200. But with the right media buying partner and the help of these tips, you can ensure your campaign gets off to the right start.

About the author

Anna V Fowles, Executive Vice President, Performance Creative

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