Kelly Scott Madison

Are You Stuck In The Direct Response Stone Age?



Find out how to best utilize DRTV today and avoid Stone-Age tactics  

In many ways, the early evolution of direct response television (DRTV) foreshadowed the initial days of digital, when attribution was given solely to the last ad clicked. Today, many advertisers are still stuck in the DRTV Stone Age.

In its early development, DRTV was designed to sell gadget items, which were not available through traditional retail channels, directly to the consumer. Early DRTV successes such as the Chop-O-Matic and Popeil Pocket Fisherman, were purchased on impulse based on an unknown level of exposure that motivated the viewer to act. Response was tracked through a unique toll-free number that represented the only way to order the product. Credit for the sale was given to the media vehicle from which the number was associated (i.e., the “last number dialed”), regardless of the frequency required to generate the response. Schedules were optimized from this data to produce a positive return-on-investment (ROI) based on the available product margin or media allowance. 

Eventually, the DRTV model expanded to include services such as vocational schools or home siding (think Sears) targeted to lower- and middle-income audiences watching daytime television. The model remained the same, even though there was often a long purchase or recruitment funnel after a lead was sourced. Inbound calls that were driven to a main number, generally acquired through directory assistance, were not given media attribution. Instead they were credited to yellow pages, referrals or “other.” Eventually, many of these service providers realized that these types of leads increased when a DRTV schedule was on air. Some made adjustments to...

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