July 2007 - Channel Crossing: Media

Action Triggers: X-Factors That Generate Calls

By Steve Nober

In the studio of a home-shopping channel, it is not unusual to see a producer ask a host to repeat certain words when he or she observes the real-time call peaks. Infomercials do not rely upon on-demand live production, and often depend upon a producer’s experience in providing a well-crafted production using a number of action triggers to elicit response. Via an ongoing study, Mercury Media has uncovered several “X factors” that motivate viewers to call and order-and which may help define the best approach for a long-form show.

Mercury’s initial study included a number of shows in the three most common formats: Interview-based, Testimonial-based and Demonstration-based. The study methodology utilized a minute-by-minute sequence analysis showing caller response trends against events such as script content, supers, calls to action, etc.

Interview-based Shows: Talk show audiences demonstrated great interests in the content, with calls peaking at the end of each interview section. Key factors include a clear structure (e.g., utilizing introduction sections and calls to action at the end), a heavy expert endorsement and a pure call-to-action ending.

Testimonial-based Shows: The testimonial approach is frequently used for beauty aid and fitness products when less information about the product needs to be addressed. Key factors include lots of telephone and/or web supers in between calls to action and a mixed ending of a call to action and product demonstrations.

Demonstration-based Shows: The demonstration approach is often used for home appliance products, since the functions of the products are the main benefits. Viewers for this type of show tend to stay with the show for one or two cycles of demonstrations and calls to action. Hence, the key factor is to have clear, structured cycles equally placed throughout the show.

Mercury’s research also indicates that calls to action that are two and a half minutes in length and which are shown at least three times during the infomercial generate the best results.

The study compared the results of various program airings on six main networks, and concluded that the media mix has minimal effect on call trends. It also shows that the majority of calls come in during the show, and then decline by more than half within the first hour after the show. For example, if an airdate produced 100 total calls, 60 would come in during the show, 30 would come in during the first hour after the show, and a quickly diminishing number after that.

How much of an impact does an infomercial with a good structure have? Looking at two shows selling the same type of product but with different structures, Mercury has found on average that the better-structured shows can increase the amount of calls per airing by up to 67 percent, resulting in increased revenues-and a successful show.

Steve Nober is the former CEO of Mercury Media Holdings, the holding company for Mercury Media, Advanced Results Marketing (ARM) and Results Marketing Group (RMG), a full-service agency group specializing in media buying & planning services for infomercials & short- form television, radio, outdoor and print.


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