INTEGRATED: Link with Channel 4 ad data helps telemarketers anticipate demand

Meg Carter asks why DRTV advertisers have reacted cautiously to a C4 service

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


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’