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Are You Aware? DRTV-Driven Search

Here in the digital age, consumers watch traditional TV with laptops, tablets and smart phones in hand, ready to react to programming polls via text and web, as well as commercials. When consumers see a Direct Response TV (DRTV) infomercial or short-form, they have three choices to respond:

  • They can call the 800# on the screen
  • They can go to the website on the screen
  • They can go to Google or Bing or any other search

Originally published on:

 Electronic Retailer

Most DRTV marketers can track 800# calls. Few can accurately track web orders from specific DRTV media placements, and even fewer understand the impact DRTV has on search and how to track and allocate sales and expenses that come through the search engines.

Now, imagine that your DRTV campaign has produced a lot of sales, but a large majority of them come through search. Chances are pretty high that your media buyers are only looking at phone orders, and consequently, don’t understand why the campaign appears to be failing.

The search engine marketing people, whether in-house or at an agency, are high-fiving each other because their results are spectacular. Orders are pouring in online via keywords they buy. What these folks may not know, or may not be communicating, is that many or most of these orders coming via search are actually driven by the DRTV campaign.

Now imagine that the CEO calls in the CMO to explain why the DRTV campaign looks like a failure and search is off the charts. Hopefully he/she will connect the dots and explain that DRTV drove all the search channel sales.

But what he likely won’t be able to do is allocate them back to specific networks, dayparts, creatives and offers.

So what’s the CMO supposed to do?


CMOs that find themselves in this situation need to put into place a new tracking system that takes into account all three response channels itemized earlier. Phone is easy, so let’s concentrate on the others.

Takeaway #1: Develop a tracking system for orders coming direct to your web site based on the URL shown on the TV screen. Ten years worth of tracking data has proven to us that “suffix” URLs (i.e. never work, while “prefix” URLs (i.e. work 85-plus percent of the time, and with additional algorithms, prefix URLs work 95-plus percent of the time (learn more about this topic at

Takeaway #2: Get your TV media buyers and search people on the same page, starting with a face-to-face meeting. Your media people need to provide an airing schedule to the search people so they know when TV ads are running. Require your search people to benchmark SEM results for all keywords prior to the launch of your next DRTV campaign, so that they can measure the increase once the campaign launches.

Takeaway #3: Insist that both groups provide frequent reports that prove that they are implementing this cooperative plan. Neither team can afford to be territorial.

Bonus Takeaway: Develop a keyword strategy based on the content of the infomercial or spot. What we do is create keywords of our clients’ company name, product name, models, and buzzwords that are spoken or shown on the screen.


The impact of DRTV on search (and other offline and online tactics) cannot be over-emphasized. The faster you institute a strategy to track all responses, the faster you will realize additional sales, revenues and profits.

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