Magazine article Marketing

Another Arrow in the Quiver

Magazine article Marketing

Another Arrow in the Quiver

Article excerpt

Channel 5 could be the best thing that's happened to DRTV, pushing prices down for advertisers and making television a lot easier to access, writes Andy Fry

Whatever the critics might say about Channel 5's offerings since its launch at the start of the month, it has been welcomed by the users of direct response TV advertising.

Its launch will be significant for the continuing development of DRTV advertising, says Tony Moss, marketing director of one of the top automated call handling bureaus, IMS.

"It offers a lower cost of entry than the current terrestrial channels. In addition, the manageable audience sizes will appeal to existing advertisers, as well as enticing new entrants."

And it is a timely development for the advertisers and their agencies. Channel 4 championed the development of DRTV in the UK at a time when many scoffed and has reaped the benefit in five years through its efforts to build the market, and its ability to offer audiences of a suitable size. But its success, which has resulted in 20% of all ads now carrying a telephone number, has led to growing concerns about the growing cost of Channel 4 airtime.

The Media Business Direct's managing director, David Kyffin, is a keen advocate of DRTV and has around 30 campaigns running currently for the likes of Direct Line, Lombard, The RAC and National Savings. He has also been instrumental in bringing BCA book club to the screen and encouraging a DRTV sampling operation by Revlon. However, he points out that "1992 was the heyday in terms of price. C4's cost per thousand has risen from 66p to [pounds]l.95 and that takes its toll".

The key impact is that "you have to spend a lot more time planning against dayparts, ratings and frequency to make DRTV work," says Kyffin. "Not only that, but there is more competition between advertisers in all sectors."

Channel 5 might help to bring prices down, and the cable and satellite channels also come into the equation. "They cover 12.5 million adults which makes them a credible player," he adds. The volumes are not as exciting as on terrestrial television, but the response is often good because you can target more accurately."

The downside is that, "there are more sales points to deal with," says Kyffin, "and for some clients, that means there isn't an impetus to try it."

Kyffin's prognosis is that there is a good future for DRTV as clients appreciate the degree of accountability, but agencies have to work harder.

The days when it was creatively gauche to put a phone number on a television ad are gone. Now the question is whether you can squeeze in a Website address as well.

But amid all the discussion about online media, it is worth repeating that the phone is still the only sure way to interact with an audience increasingly demanding convenience and communication from brands.

Research by BT and The Henley Centre indicates that consumers are becoming more comfortable on the phone and that DRTV response rates are rising as a result. The onset of digital TV's 200-channel environment can only make the phone an even more vital tool.

By contrast, modems have only penetrated about 5% of UK homes, keeping the Internet a niche opportunity.

As DRTV matures, it has become clear that it performs three different functions. …

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