Oceans and Streams


Oceans and Streams

Where I grew up in Brooklyn, we didn’t have mountains or bunny hills. The closest we ever got to skiing was to hurtle down a sloping street on a skateboard in the summertime, trying to avoid oncoming traffic and parked cars.

And each summer, many direct response marketers try to set a new product or two loose in testing, steer their buys carefully, and coast into the new broadcast season unscathed. Unfortunately, the formula that we know and love has changed quite a bit.

Television viewers and potential customers often spend summer days soaking up the sun, vacationing, or (literally) chilling out in the A.C. On oppressively hot days, viewerships used to spike as people sought solace in trashy daytime TV. Other days were spent at the beach or outside, meaning that televisions weren’t on.

Thanks to Apple, Google, and other companies that offer gadgets to stream entertainment, the average viewer can now sit on the beach, soaking up as much sun as they like while binge-watching their favorite thrillers and comedies.

This change affects DR marketers in a few ways. For one, it changes how the message is disseminated to the consumer. The days of simply airing ads and waiting for response are gone. Now we have to actively seek out the consumer and talk to them one-on-one, in a very personal manner.

The summer months bring with them an opportunity to test out new channels. Moving dollars from traditional advertising methods to the new media may be a bit scary, but it can help reach new customers; dollars spent on Hulu or any of the streaming services will help catch viewers as they catch up on their favorite shows.

How we look at response is changing, as well. Traditional telephone response is falling out of vogue, but click-through rates and app downloads are gaining steam fast in the DR world. Results are still determined based on the number of products sold, and if that number leads to a profitable bottom line, the medium you’re testing is working.

That’s not to say that traditional TV viewing is dead. Sitting in front of a television and consuming content is still a common activity for the majority of consumers, and the summer months can continue to provide direct response marketers with a healthy audience for direct sales or a retail push.
The key is to pick and choose where you advertise to access the biggest audiences. While traditional appointment viewing is almost extinct in scripted programming, live sports is very much alive, and the summer months offer plenty of opportunities.

One of my favorite parts of July is watching Wimbledon on NBC. The Grand Slam event is a great opportunity not only to reach tennis enthusiasts, but also to pull in casual viewers as they enjoy their morning coffee with strawberries and cream.

Immediately after Wimbledon is Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. While it’s rarely a thrilling competition, winning World Series home-field advantage on behalf of the league and seeing all the stars in one place is intriguing enough to generate one of the larger live audiences of the summer. And one of golf ’s majors, the British Open, offers an opportunity to reach the affluent audiences of the sport.

As we move into August, the NFL returns with preseason action. While starters are restricted to the first few plays of the game, audiences expand as the season approaches. Viewership numbers don’t lie: Football is America’s game, and the preseason provides a taste of the audiences marketers can expect as the year progresses.

Other options include Discovery’s popular “Shark Week” in August, along with Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on SyFy. Awards shows are also on deck, with ESPN’s ESPYs in July and the MTV Music Awards in August.

Change can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be scary. I, for one, will be at the beach, streaming whatever I can get my eyes on.

Eddie Wilders is vice president of research and analytics of Lockard & Wechsler Direct in Irvington, N.Y. “Like” Lockard & Wechsler on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @lwdirect.