April 2007 - Media Matters

The Most Important Thing DRTV Advertisers Need to Know

By Dick Wechsler

I’ve been associated with the direct marketing business for nearly two decades. During that time, one truth resonates louder than all others. This is it: When it comes to media, price matters over all else. This truth is quite distinct from the adage: Anything will work if the media is cheap enough, and understanding the difference is critical to planning and managing any direct marketing media campaign-especially television-in an increasingly competitive environment.

We face the challenge of scaling campaigns without sacrificing efficiencies everyday. When media inventory is tight and pricing trends are higher, the obstacles to efficient scale become even more ominous. If you set your sights only on cheap media, you will significantly limit the scope of your campaign for the sake of efficiency. Appropriate pricing for the right media is the key to achieving efficient scale.

To accomplish this, the DRTV advertiser should take a page out of the direct-mail handbook. Most strategic direct-mail media decisions are planned and measured on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis. The same should be true for DRTV, as well. Every spot that airs reaches a measurable universe of viewers. As a result, CPMs can be easily estimated and used as a planning tool for efficiently scaling a campaign.

It’s not uncommon for DRTV buyers to fall in love with a particular program or network. “Murder She Wrote,” formerly on A&E and now on Biography, has long been a stalwart for DRTV campaigns targeting older adults. The same is true of Sunday afternoon movies on Lifetime. Is there a kid’s product out there that didn’t live and die by the availability of inventory on Nickelodeon? Probably not. But the key point is this: No matter how potent any one of these programs or networks might be, none of them present scalable media solutions.

Following is a very effective strategy for scaling campaigns in a high-priced, tight- inventory environment:

  • Analyze the audience ratings of every network by every hour of the day and day of the week. You’ll find that there are significant fluctuations in viewership.
  • Do your homework and learn how much it will cost to clear a :30, :60 or :120 in each of the traditional dayparts. You can do this using your own current history or by speaking with the reps, who you know are likely to inflate the price.
  • Take that rate and determine its CPM in each of the hours.

I guarantee that you will find hours in which the CPM makes sense.

Now you need to work with your media reps to narrow the rotations down to the house that makes sense and to adjust the rates down to where they make sense, as well. This requires lots of hard work. The final negotiating may be the most difficult part of all. But being able to efficiently scale a campaign is well worth the effort.

Dick Wechsler is president and CEO of Lockard and Wechsler Direct, a privately held, direct marketing agency in Irvington, N.Y. He can be reached at (914) 591-6600, or via e-mail at [email protected].


No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment