British Telecom is set to address the controversial issue of calls lost
in direct-response TV campaigns with a drive to target large users of
its 0800 and 0345 numbers.
The move was precipitated by a joint BT/Channel 4 study this summer that
revealed the scale of call loss through engaged lines or callers not
One unnamed advertiser cited in the research ran a prime-time TV spot
that generated 1,200 live calls, while a staggering 54,000 calls went
unanswered. About 75 per cent of response to a DRTV ad comes in the
first 15 minutes after the spot goes on air.
The research also revealed the astonishing growth of the medium: 19 per
cent of TV commercials now carry a phone number, which is 43 per cent up
on a similar 1993 survey.
The initiative will attempt to address some of the specific problems
leading to call loss, including insufficient involvement of call-
handling bureaux in the creation of DRTV ads. A direct marketing
campaign, targeting heavy DRTV advertisers, is set to break imminently.
Howard Sandom, head of telemarketing communications at BT, who is co-
ordinating the scheme, said: ‘Telephone handling is too rarely part of
the original agency brief. The account planner still needs to sit down
more often with the call handler at brief stage.’
He added: ‘If clients put a phone number on screen for more than ten
seconds, they stand a threefold chance of getting a response.’
Large-scale users of BT’s 0800 and 0345 numbers include Freemans, First
Direct, Racing Green, Next Directory and the Royal Bank of Scotland.