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  • Writer's pictureAirtime Media

Direct-Response TV: Then, Now, and Beyond

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

There are only three key aspects to remember when you hear direct-response advertising: engaging content, a tempting offer, and a persuasive call-to-action. Direct-response television or DRTV marketing refers to ads that urge TV viewers to react by heeding a specific prompt. It could be a commercial promising a discount for consumers who visit a particular website landing page. It could also be a good deal of product or service for customers who call a given telephone number.

Direct-response TV marketing aims to drive guaranteed leads and sales to businesses at the lowest possible cost. Since each ad extends a unique offer, marketers can easily track and measure the success rate of their campaigns. It means that the return on investment is tangible and immediate. DRTV takes advantage of the reach of television and uses it to drive sales and business success.

The Birth Of Direct-Response TV

Direct Response

By the time television became the bread and butter of American households, there was no doubt in the minds of business owners and marketers that TV was going to be direct-response marketing’s natural habitat. Even in 1990, there was already an average of two TV sets per household in the U.S. It only made sense to maximize the industry and reach a wider audience through direct-response TV advertising. It was the era of infomercials.

Infomercials specialize in featuring a product or service and urging viewers to respond directly. They offer discounts, freebies, and limited-time deals. The commercials advertise an 800 number users can contact for more information or purchases. These ads were usually around 1 to 2 minutes long and followed a narrative form. Since then, DRTV has branched out into short- and long-form and pursued an uphill path.

Emerging Stronger Than Ever On The Digital Era

Direct Response

When the Internet peaked its popularity and functionality, many marketers and business experts thought it was the end for direct-response TV marketing. However, DRTV surprisingly remains competitive despite the rise of the digital era.

Presently, around 120 million households in the U.S. have cable TV. Furthermore, TV consumption is at its highest, and viewership increases continuously. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, 37% of TV viewers aged 14 to 74 said they now watch more traditional TV than online media. There is also a rise in direct-to-consumer sales because people are less incentivized to leave their homes to visit physical stores and outlets. Direct-response TV marketing plays a significant role in this area.

Advances brought forth by the digital era have also helped the direct-response TV advertising industry decrease its production costs, and the effect is a massive return on investment. Additionally, DRTV is proven more efficient in hitting key performance indicators, like sales and prospect engagement, than conventional search, display, or print advertising.

Indeed, the digital age threatened the direct-response TV marketing industry, but it adapted well. With the plethora of ways that viewers can consume video, marketers found a way to acclimate their strategies to the changing landscape. While DRTV now goes beyond featuring an 800 number for viewers to call, the pay-per-inquiry or PPI marketing industry remains steadfast. It continues to drive a constant revenue stream for businesses. On the other hand, enterprises continue to gravitate towards performance-based PPI advertising services because they remain the most cost-effective strategy, 30 to 60 percent less expensive than traditional TV advertising.

What’s In Store For Direct-Response TV?

With direct-response TV marketing’s capacity to stay on top of the current, marketers see a bright future for this industry. Not only is television not expected to go out of style any time soon, but an increasing number of people are rediscovering the value and merits of traditional TV viewing. DRTV is also proving to be more than just a campaign for startups and brick-and-mortar businesses. Now, many Fortune 500 companies employ direct-response TV advertising. At this rate, one can only guess how lucrative the industry will be in the coming years.

Airtime Media has 40+ years of direct-response TV marketing experience under its belt. Our in-house creative team takes care of producing compelling content and commercials that are available in English and Spanish. If you want guaranteed calls and leads for your business at little to no cost, give us a call at 888-373-8463 or leave a message and we will be happy to assist you.

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