SPOTLIGHT ON: DIRECT RESPONSE TV - Is ITV set to make great leap forward into direct sales TV? ITV’s direct response line follows a ’transaction TV’ trend, Alasdair Reid finds

By ALASDAIR REID, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 12 December 1997 12:00AM

In the past five years or so, the US market has seen the emergence of what they now like to call ’transactional television’ - television as a direct sales medium. And we’re not just talking about ’this is not available in any shop’ CD collections of instantly forgotten mood music.

In the past five years or so, the US market has seen the emergence

of what they now like to call ’transactional television’ - television as

a direct sales medium. And we’re not just talking about ’this is not

available in any shop’ CD collections of instantly forgotten mood

music.



Year by year, US companies have been expanding the boundaries of what

can be sold off the screen via a number of routes - home-shopping

channels, direct response television (DRTV) and its extended format

cousin, the 30-minute infomercial.



We’ve seen something of that here, of course. But there’s a nagging

suspicion that our version of transactional TV is missing the point

somewhat. A few weeks back there was a lot of fuss about the latest leap

forward in UK television advertising - the ’corporate infomercial’. This

phenomenon is, perhaps predictably, only three minutes long and doesn’t

actually attempt to sell anything.



But UK commercials featuring direct response phone numbers account for

12 per cent - pounds 380 million in absolute revenue terms - of

commercial airtime.



A recent report from the ITV sales house, Laser Sales, puts this into

context. It pointed out that the primary objective of the majority of

these spots is ’to deliver and build a brand or corporate message in the

form of ’this company is responsive, approachable and open for

business’’. It called this phenomenon ’brand-response TV’.



Last week, ITV announced it is setting up a service offering a generic

telephone number that can be used for all direct response advertisers

and those mainstream advertisers who want to offer customers the

facility to request further information on their brands (Campaign, 5

December).



The call-handling technology for ’Call ITV’ directs the caller instantly

to the right destination, and the number - 0870-3333 333 - is deemed to

be so memorable that viewers will call at their leisure rather than

clogging the lines at peak time.



As David Stubley, the managing partner of CIA Conzept, points out, there

is a small but growing group of advertisers who could benefit from the

ITV service. These are advertisers who want to generate customer contact

but lack the resources of a Direct Line Insurance to cope with peak-time

response. There are a lot of smaller insurance companies in that

category, as well as catalogue companies like Grattan. ’ITV is probably

selling to them but they’re telling ITV that they can’t commit to the

network because they’d find it difficult to cope with the kind of

response that it might generate.’



But there are drawbacks, he points out: ’Other television stations will

never run the ITV logo, so how do you go about building a consistent

DRTV presence?And what do you do about response from print media?

Lastly, who owns the data about level and type of response? If it was

ITV, that would put advertisers at a greater disadvantage when it came

to negotiating rates.’



Claire Myerscough, the head of Zenith Direct, is less convinced about

the direct sales benefits. ’A lot of advertisers are precious about

having and developing their own telephone number. This service probably

won’t interest them. But there are companies that are expanding but

don’t have the facilities or call-handling expertise.



’For instance, some major fmcg companies who are soliciting a response

are still amazingly unsophisticated in this respect.’ And, warns

Myerscough, ’when an advertiser can’t handle response, inviting it can

be really damaging.’



She concludes: ’I’d see this as an extra ITV service for those sorts of

advertisers. I can’t see this as something designed to take a greater

share of genuine DRTV advertising, but it will help to keep ITV at the

front of people’s minds.’



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

X

You must log in to use Clip & Save

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Campaign Jobs