Meg Carter asks why DRTV advertisers have reacted cautiously to a C4
Lost calls are the bane of the direct response television advertiser’s
life. According to research conducted by Channel 4 and BT last year, 22
per cent of viewer responses are lost because of call-handling problems.
This is why, from July, Channel 4 will offer telemarketing companies
direct access to its scheduling database under a scheme called 4-Link.
Ruth Roscorla, the Channel 4 business development manager, explains:
‘Telemarketing bureaux have claimed that spots have been added or moved
at the last minute which they didn’t know about. We felt that if we gave
them direct access to our systems, they could identify changes and
adjust their manning requirements accordingly.’
Telemarketers prepared to make a small investment will be able to call
up the scheduling data direct. ‘They will be able to access our
estimates of potential impact levels - which we hope will be a real
benefit,’ Roscorla adds.
Agencies have welcomed the initiative, and accept that it will save them
both time and hassle.
Telemarketing specialists, however, have been more reticent in spite of
their historic grumble that they get insufficient information from
broadcasters, agencies and clients about when ads will be screened.
Roscorla says: ‘We were expecting more to jump at the opportunity - in
fact just four [IMS, Call Advantage, Merit and Broadsystem] have.’
David Plank, the new-business director at Merit Direct, says. ‘It’s a
reflection of the fact that, for many bureaux, effective DRTV is
difficult to deliver.
‘Critical mass is needed to ensure the most effective campaigns - for
example eight or ten regular DRTV clients using shared facilities. Calls
can go from feast to famine in seconds.’
Plank adds: ‘More bureaux haven’t picked up on 4-Link because I don’t
think many really understand DRTV.’
Traditionally the domain of mail-order companies and exotic-sounding
gizmos, the growth in interest in interactive advertising has persuaded
many mainstream advertisers and brands to build a direct response
mechanism into campaigns - charities, car and financial services
advertisers, and even fmcg brands, are all entering the DRTV market.
DRTV advertising accounts for around 22 per cent of TV commercials,
according to latest estimates, equating to some 18 per cent of all TV
ad revenue. Channel 4, eager to position itself as the DRTV specialist,
anticipates that more than 20 per cent of the ads it screens will carry
a direct response mechanism by the end of the year.
Plank believes the Channel 4 initiative will help drive future business.
‘A consistent problem is miscommunication of media schedules. Either
we’re not getting the most up-to-date information, or the schedules are
changing late in the day. 4-Link makes total sense,’ he says.
Edited by Anne-Marie Crawford
DRTV: WHO OFFERS WHAT
How long have you run DRTV campaigns?
C4 Since its 1982 launch, although only to a significant degree since
ITV Since at least 1986
How many do you carry today?
C4 About 22 per cent of ads is the estimate for 1996
ITV About 25 per cent of all ads carried
What additional services are offered when an advertiser buys a DRTV
C4 Access to rolling research conducted with BT and advice on production
houses, live or automated response handling and, from this month, 4-
Link, a scheduling database
ITV Relationships with facility house and telephone service providers
and research services to analyse response and case histories. Also
testing a similar system to 4-Link - Laser
How much does it cost?
C4 4-Link is free to the advertiser (the bureaux carries the
subscription fee). An initial test campaign could cost between pounds
50,000 and pounds 100,000
ITV Depends on objective - from ‘a few hundred thousand pounds’ to much
more, although, if local, it could be less - ‘tens of thousands’