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How Internet killed the DRTV Star (and how it can help make DRTV a Superstar)

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

It’s only natural that the direct response industry has seen a steady decline in the past years. It’s failed to adapt to a new world that’s emerged in this new millennium.

Direct response is now a dinosaur that will become extinct if it does not learn quickly to adapt and evolve.If this prediction doesn’t sit well, can you at least accept that Direct Response Television is in serious decline and is missing out on a huge opportunity? What is Direct Response’s response to the internet commerce era?To maintain the status-quo with an unchanging business model that’s been the “Go To” method since the early ‘80’s?The Direct Response industry seems to be content to muddle along using an outdated paradigm. Why? How badly do sales have to decline before there is a significant paradigm shift in the industry?Amazon’s sales rival that of retail giant Wal-Mart, and in fact, it has Wal-Mart scrambling to update their own online business model to remain competitive.

And that’s here in the USA. Ali Baba, which is another ecommerce giant on a similar scale to Amazon, dominates Pan-Asian on-line retail markets. And Ali Baba is encroaching on the US ecommerce retail front, presenting yet another online option for the ecommerce retail market.There is no reliable statistic that illustrates the American television viewer’s propensity to purchase online as opposed to Direct Response Television (which requires actually dialing the telephone and talking to someone).

A conservative estimate is over 50% would rather purchase online than call to place an order.And the Direct Response Television industry has one other, very significant hurdle to overcome; shipping speed. Amazon can deliver their products often by the very next day and also deliver Sundays and holidays. Worst case is their deliveries will take up to a week. Not so with DRTV. An industry with a 4 to 6 week delivery time simply cannot remain competitive in this age of instant-gratification. Buy it now; get it now. DRTV does not seem to embrace that model.Direct Response Television must intertwine with the burgeoning internet ecommerce industry.It is beginning to happen, albeit slowly.

Many DRTV commercials are now displaying web sites (although most do not generate for stations or agencies); however, the web sites are rarely the focal point of the commercial. This needs to change, and the sooner the better for the health and welfare of the industry.So how does a successful web site component of a television direct response campaign look? The web site address is short and easy to remember and displayed in large font across the screen for the majority of the commercial’s duration. There should also be a promotional code, possibly flashing at times to draw the viewer’s attention. Keep the Promo code short and easy to remember.

For example, promo code: SALE2.(The web address is used as an example and is not suggesting readers visit this site) Place an expiration on the promo code that’s clearly stated on the commercial. “This offer may expire at midnight tonight!” And ensure to have the promotion actually BE a promotion, meaning a price drop below that of non-promo window or general internet purchase; or some other perk to entice potential buyers. When potential customers visit the site, provide an option to chat with a live agent, or call a live agent, as well as simple internet purchase.

Agents who are enthusiastic and can be considered Subject Matter Experts on the products and the business they represent.Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. “You notice a TV spot during a commercial break with the Shazam bug displayed on it, so you launch the app on your smartphone. The next commercial you see on TV is for Shopkick, so you jump to that app on your smartphone to earn an instant coupon.” That (scenario) is soon to be a reality, according to Stacey Shepatin, co-author of the book Social TV .

The industry as a whole has to go from asking ‘how would my grandmother want to buy this product?’ to ‘How would my daughter want to buy it?’ One network is already testing a platform that allows viewers to press a dial button on their smartphone via a companion app and be connected with a live operator ready to take an order for whatever direct response commercial is showing at the time. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If marketers will create incentives like the instant coupon Shepatin discusses in her book, it will be a brave new world for Direct Response advertisers.(Take a look at my Opinion Piece: Just a Thought for more on this topic.) We are most likely at the coming-of-age for Direct Response TV, not its twilight. But ultimately, that will depend on what actions the ingénues of today’s Direct Response industry take.

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''We are most likely at the coming-of-age for Direct Response TV, not its twilight.'' Enzo Stephens in ''How Internet Killed the DRTV Star''

'' The concept of addressable television ads has been proclaimed  for years as the Holy Grail of advertising.'' Mike Proulx, Social TV

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