While you’d expect brand, retail and direct response commercials to be different, it might surprise you to know how vastly different the media footprints must be for each type of campaign to do its job cost-effectively.

With brand or retail campaigns, a narrower schedule with more frequency will return more sales than a campaign that tries to reach your total market with less frequency. With Direct Response, the opposite applies. You don’t want frequency, you want reach. One spot per programme, preferably when only one person per household (the key influencer or decision maker) is watching.

Brand awareness gives you presence

Brand TV commercials work over the long term. And (unless you’re a major, long-term brand with years of history and presence in the marketplace) your campaign effectiveness ends when you go off air. So a more pragmatic and economical media approach – such as aiming for a smaller pecentage of your target market – delivers spots over a longer period of time to create a more effective brand awareness TV campaign.

To increase awareness, visibility and response further, you can include 15 second commercials and online video ads to increase the frequency of your campaign without a major increase in cost. And this potent kind of TV+online strategy works an average of 28% better than TV alone.

Retail campaigns drive sales

Since shopping for groceries and other retail activities are part of the consumer’s weekly schedule, you get the most cost effective response by targeting grocery buyers in off-peak programming on days adjacent to regular shopping days. And just like in-store, discounts and special offers in the commercials work to increase traffic and sales.

Direct response builds a profitable sales channel

Direct response media buying is the opposite of brand awareness and retail. You don’t want frequency, you need reach: more exposure to more potential customers. Here’s why: A direct response commercial is a self-contained sales pitch, It doesn’t need repetition to drive a message home. It works on its own. So one spot per programme is enough. Most of the programme’s audience will see the sales pitch and either respond or not. If you repeat the sales pitch two or three times in the same programme (to the same audience) the response to the second and third spots will fall dramatically. And that media wastage will drive your cost-per sale up significantly.

Direct response commercials work from the moment the first spot runs, with web hits appearing as the 60, 90 or 120 second spot is concluding. So one spot in each of a number of programmes, tracked via web metrics, is a great way to test and develop a cost-effective direct response campaign.

Non-prime-time is the key direct response TV advertising. The cost-per-thousand is lower, programming isn’t too involving, you’re only paying for one or two viewers per household, and they’re less likely to be distracted by prime-time household activities: family, meals, kids, etc. So you get a lot more response for your money.

Direct response commercials need to sell the benefit and then make an offer to generate the urge to jump online NOW, not later when the intent to buy will be forgotten. Known brands work better than unknown brands. And each commercial needs to sell enough to pay for its airtime and make a margin.

Creating a great direct response TV commercial message is covered in another blog post: How to write a Direct Response TV commercial.



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