Atomic Direct, LTD

Tech Needs TV

DRTV Finds What Nielsen Misses: An Audience That Will Take Action

Posted by Doug Garnett January - 28 - 2011 - Friday

Nielsen ratings are often attacked for a variety of problems with their statistical reliability and I certainly don’t disagree with those challenges. Yet, I give Nielsen credit for reasonably estimating what is entirely unmeasurable: random acts of private TV viewing by more than 300 million Americans in more than 100 million homes on over 250 million TV sets.

In truth, Nielsen critics should dig deeper, because there’s a more fundamental problem. No rating system, Nielsen or otherwise, can help you find the media that most cost effectively reaches an audience that will go out and buy your product.

Enter DRTV – the surprising modern media engine that drives big change more cost effectively than any other TV. How? In part, by measuring how effectively each time slot on your TV schedule reaches an audience that will take action.

Let’s Review Traditional TV Measurement. Traditional TV metrics start by giving us demographic descriptions of audiences (yawn) – and these descriptions dominate ratings. But the truth taught in advertising courses around the country (like my courses at Portland State) is that demographics are the least effective way to locate a target consumer that will take action.

This is a well known problem. So traditional media planners have developed much more sophisticated ways to describe and target audiences. They’ve been helped along this route by research firms and the networks themselves who analyze viewer psychographics, lifestyles, behaviors and geography. Traditional planners try to buy based on these criteria.

But notice what’s missing: there’s no way to know predisposition to take action.

By Contrast, Consider DRTV. In DRTV, we do some planning with traditional audience criteria. But within 2 weeks of starting a campaign, we’ve looked at phone and web results and adjusted our media buy by targeting the media that drives the most cost effective action. Later we evaluate our buy for the impact we’ve had in traditional media terms like reach & frequency, classic target market descriptors, and more detailed impact at the retail store.

For example, Atomic ran a cookware campaign where we found the most cost effective results on Lifetime Movie Network. By contrast, several “traditional planning” networks performed quite poorly – Oxygen was 250% less, Food Network 400% less and HGTV 800% less effective at reaching consumers who would take action. So after only two weeks, we removed those networks from the schedule.

The result? With a budget under $1M we drove the biggest cookware introduction at Linens-n-Things in their history. Let me say that again: we introduced a product nationally for a major retailer with under $1M in media spending and the result was the biggest cookware introduction in their history.

In fact, over a 20 year DRTV career, I’ve worked with client after client who turns to DRTV after getting minimal results from spending over $10M in traditional TV. And when they turn to DRTV, they usually drive 10 to 20 times the unit sales at retail with less than half the spending.

Why Does Predisposition to Action Matter This Much? Let’s assume we randomly select 100 people who fit your best and most in-depth target market description. How many of those are likely to be brought to action? A half? One? Two? Perhaps three? Experience shows that if 3 out of 100 people from a target market are ready to take action, you’ve got astronomical market potential.

Now remember that you are choosing how you spend millions (or even hundreds of millions) in media without knowing whether the people you reach are the same ones that will move to action. If we choose American Idol because “that’s what our target watches”, that’s also all we know. We know nothing about how cost effectively advertising on American Idol will reach people who are likely to take action.

A company with media money to burn can choose to ignore this reality. No one else should.

Use DRTV for Higher Impact from TV

If you want to cause change for your company’s fortunes – if you want to make something big and exciting happen, take a long look at DRTV.

In case after case, DRTV campaigns drive massive results at retail. These campaigns reveal that the media purchased based on traditional planning is often the LEAST cost effective. And when DRTV is effective at driving direct and retail sales, we find it is also highly effective building brands or changing brand perceptions – achieving more, faster and at lower cost than with traditional media.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett


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Doug Garnett, DRTV and Technology Industry Expert

Doug Garnett is founder and CEO of DRTV agency Atomic Direct and a leading expert on innovative uses of DRTV, infomercials and other in-depth TV and non-TV messages to build brand and drive sales.

Doug has been working in and around the technology field for 27 years. After starting in aerospace, he spent 5 years selling and marketing supercomputers. Since shifting to advertising, his clients have included AT&T, IBM, Apple, Disney Mobile, Ugobe, Presto, and Netpliance.

Doug sits on the editorial board of Response Magazine, is an adjunct professor of general advertising at Portland State University, and is a member of the Jordan-Whitney Greensheet Panel.

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