Connecting the DRTV-Internet Dots

August 26, 2011 by  Filed under: Advertising 

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when the DRTV industry was deathly afraid of the Internet. How dare this new direct medium come in and invade a turf that was held sacred for decades? Sales cannibalization was just one of many different fears swirling around in the average DRTV company’s head as E-commerce grew by leaps and bounds in the late 1990s.

In some corners of the business world, the Web has certainly taken its toll. Magazines and newspapers were decimated as more advertisers moved budgets to the digital environment. Intermediaries like travel agents watched their business siphoned off by online versions of themselves. Record stores have gone the way of the 8-track tape, and book and video stores are crumbling.

But, through it all, TV advertising survives – and even thrives. In fact, it remains the most popular advertising medium for everyone from the sole proprietor/inventor to the Fortune 100 company – and everybody in between. As for the DRTV slice of the TV ad pie, the Internet has boosted response in ways that we couldn’t have imagined just 10 years ago. Here’s why:

1. The Internet supports – and even enhances – DRTV’s accountability qualities. Unlike many other ad channels, DRTV and the Web are extremely accountable. Whether marketers are tracking incoming calls to a toll-free number or using Google Analytics to trace online traffic, they’re getting measurable data that can be used to tweak future advertising campaigns.

2. Both are marketing mediums, not just advertising mechanisms. DRTV itself is less of an advertising strategy and more of a marketing medium. That’s why it integrates so well with other efforts, including the Web. The two strategies work hand-in-hand to create a more powerful sales environment where both new and established brands can be seen and heard.

3. Elements like online video allow marketers to stretch their production dollars. Who knew the Internet would turn into a hotbed for online video – and so quickly? This single event alone allows DRTV marketers to move their infomercials and short-form commercials online with just a bit of slicing and dicing. Demonstrations, testimonials and pitches parlay well onto the Web, which serves as the perfect extension for DRTV campaigns.

4. Preliminary testing is easier, and cheaper, online. What better way to test out a product to see if it “sticks” than by using a quick, targeted Web trial? When the results come in, marketers can assess the numbers, and see if it’s worth the time and money to roll out a full DRTV campaign.

5. Social networking tools have fueled the fire. Just when we thought the Web had reached its full potential as a marketing tool, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter came along and swept up millions of users who interact daily online. This has opened yet another door for DRTV marketers, who are taking advantage of social networking to connect with new customers, build brand awareness, and position their “handles” as calls to action in addition to, or sometimes instead of, the toll-free number.

These are just five ways the Internet and DRTV work together to advance marketers’ campaigns. Going forward, we’re sure to see even more inventive solutions come to life that bridge the two mediums and bring them even closer together.

Author of over 200 published articles, Tim Hawthorne is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Hawthorne Direct, a full service DRTV and New Media ad agency founded in 1986. Since then, Hawthorne has produced or managed over 800 Direct Response TV campaigns for clients such as Apple, Braun, Discover Card, Time-Life, Nissan, Lawn Boy, Nikon, Oreck, Bose, and Heifer International. Tim is a co-founder of the Electronic Retailing Association, has delivered over 100 speeches worldwide and is the author of the definitive DRTV book, The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing. A cum laude graduate of Harvard, Tim was honored with the prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) in 2006.

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