January 2007 - Technology Talk

Getting High Marks on Your DRTV Campaigns

By Andy Nobbs

Profound changes have shaken the media industry over the last 12 months, making 2006 one of the most eventful years ever for television professionals. Take a minute to reflect over last year, and you will notice a consistent theme across a number of markets within the media industry-fragmentation.

The steady and unrelenting introduction of new technologies continues to change the world as we know it, affecting everything from how people listen to music to how they watch television. Broadcast media is at the core of this revolution. The introduction of new technologies has caused the broadcast industry to experience rapid, disruptive and often traumatic transformation, and has resulted in a plethora of new options for receiving and viewing video content. As new ERA Chairman Rick Petry noted in a recent issue of Electronic Retailer: “The ‘good old days’ are gone forever.”

These changes affect all aspects of the media industry, and direct response is no exception. As the television viewing audience continues to fragment, DRTV infomercial advertisers, DR television producers, home shopping networks and media outlets demand better ways to increase revenue and track campaign results from media buyers. The increasing number of channels and the introduction of new programming, combined with the availability of new technologies and new distribution channels, present an issue that direct response executives cannot ignore: What actually happens to their video once it leaves the production facility?

Infomercials and short-form programming are the lifeblood of DR advertisers and all necessary action should be taken to ensure they are as effective as possible. This includes making sure the content is airing according to contract, or even that it aired at all. Are you doing all you can to keep track of your video? If you’re not sure, consider how digital watermarking technology can work for you.

Media fragmentation has forced marketers to find new ways to determine if their campaigns are effective. According to the DRTV Quarterly, 117 ads were needed in 2005 to reach 70 percent of the target population, compared to just three ads in 1970. If the state of the industry requires DRTV advertisers to spend more money on campaigns to maintain profits, it is pertinent they also consider tracking where and when these infomercials are airing in order to ensure their target audience is effectively being reached.

DR companies face unprecedented challenges, as traditional business models struggle to remain relevant in this changing media landscape. In order for these organizations to keep track of their short- and long-form programming, they need to embrace new technologies and services that can be used to their advantage. A perfect solution in this instance is the application of digital watermarking technology. Digital watermarks are imperceptible and indelible codes that are inserted into video, enabling the content owner to keep track of its whereabouts. DR advertisers can use watermarking technology as a broadcast verification tool, which will provide them with crucial intelligence on their content, such as if, when, where and for how long their commercials aired.

Broadcast verification solutions provide indisputable evidence of television airplay, and help DR companies provide full value for every advertising dollar spent. During the run of a direct response campaign, the cost per lead is constantly measured against projections and goals. Because adjustments can be made to the media mix, run times and frequency of buys in order to bring cost-per-lead numbers in line with expectations, the industry requires precise, complete, auditable airplay data delivered quickly.

Digital watermarking technology not only serves as a verification of content airing, but also can be used as a planning tool in DR campaigns, as the intelligence gathered serves as a valuable resource for advertisers. The data can be used for strategic planning purposes, allowing advertisers to quickly assess campaign performance. While in the past it took days to receive quantifiable results, the performance of campaigns now can be evaluated within minutes, allowing in-flight adjustments to be made. This ultimately has a positive impact on overall return on investment.

In these times of uncertainty and constant change, measurability and accountability are critical components to running a successful business. How can advertisers determine if their campaigns are effectively generating leads? Broadcast verification services take accountability to a higher level. By providing timely feedback on the media lifecycle of a particular piece of broadcast video, watermarking solutions can provide an immediate snapshot of performance results, ensuring advertisers have a way of determining the efficiency of their marketing efforts.

Consider the management benefits digital watermarking brings to the DRTV industry. Advances in watermarking technology have catapulted television advertising measurement to new levels of precision and speed, which can result in more effective analysis and management of direct response campaigns. Implementing a watermarking service provides advertisers with the ability to react to results immediately and effectively, and also allows them more control over client budgets.

In order to effectively keep track of the ROI associated with ad campaigns, advertisers must rely on sophisticated business evaluation tools. The Internet enables advertisers and agencies the ability to properly manage each campaign, as data from multiple sources is constantly streamed, collected, analyzed and organized in a central location. In order to remain competitive, DR professionals demand instantaneous and seamless integration of results on a uniform reporting platform-a fairly new concept in the TV ad industry. Digital watermarking can be integrated with cutting-edge web-based technology to change DRTV campaign management as we know it, and provide executives with a leg-up on the competition.

In the past, DR companies have faced challenges when trying to keep track of their content. Think about the amount of money at stake for these companies. As much as $250,000 per week can be spent on a spot, and as much as $1 million per week can be spent on a 30-minute infomercial. While seasoned DRTV marketers may have a better success ratio, it is likely that 10 percent of infomercials, and perhaps only 3 percent of spots, actually generate a profitable response. If you’re not taking measures to monitor your video, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make improvements that can result in a higher profit for your business.

Watermarking technology makes this task much easier to accomplish. No more unanswered phone calls to television stations asking if and when commercials ran. Media buyers now have the ability to know within minutes of airing which spot ran on a particular network or channel, in which market, on what specific day and time. And because the data is reliable, you can make confident decisions about your campaigns rather than just on-the-fly estimates.

If you’re wary of bringing new technologies to your business, be aware that you may be missing out on receiving information that can drive your business success. Deploying a broadcast verification service arms you with detailed knowledge of your ad campaign results, and allows you to evaluate the effects on your business’ bottom line.

Andy Nobbs is president and managing director of Teletrax. He can be reached at [email protected].


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