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Executive Briefs


A steady stream of nutraceutical product companies has been using Direct Response TV (DRTV) with great success. For March, 2012, the top two category products on the Infomercial Monitoring Service rankings of national cable and satellite were Lipozene and Super Beta Prostate. Other similar companies/products that have used or are using DRTV include Zetox, Healthy Control, Nopalea, Supple and Alertil, among many.

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

Your short-form or infomercial appears to have run its’ course. It’s been gradually waning and the end of the line appears near. Time to move on to the next product, right?

Not so fast. In some, maybe even many, cases, it’s possible to reverse the trend and give the product or service a second life. Whether a particular product’s program is wearing out, or it appears that a category has become saturated, we’ll explore what it takes to squeeze another round of profit out of what appears to be a dead program.

We’ve all been hearing about emerging technologies, platforms, hardware and software for years, but according to Simon Applebaum, who’s been covering the evolution of TV since 1980, there are four major areas to watch closely in 2012.

I saw a very compelling DRTV commercial recently. I went online to order it. I was so confused by the shopping cart, and it took forever to get through, that I abandoned and threw up my hands in frustration. And I’m a tech savvy experienced web user to boot.

If you’ve ever been at a marina when the tide comes in, you’ll see the incoming surge of water raise all the boats, regardless of size. Think of the surging water as Direct Response TV (DRTV) and the boats are other advertising tactics and channels, such as print, search, banners, direct mail, retail, etc.

Manufacturers who have consumer products we talk with often ask us “aren’t retailers annoyed when a manufacturer runs an infomercial and sells direct-to-consumer (DTC)?” Our answer is always a resounding “no” followed by an extensive explanation. Here are the highlights:

Right now, “retargeting” is a hot topic in online acquisition circles. And we’ve seen very good results with our clients in this area. We’ve also toyed with “abandonment popups” and other methods to reach consumers who have been to our clients’ websites. And email has been used for a very long time to nurture prospects and convert them to buyers

All of these fall into a category we call “Second Chance Marketing” (SCM). SCM didn’t really exist before the Internet: when you run a print ad, air a TV commercial or drop a postal mailing, either consumers responded or not.

If you’re an online etailer or a traditional store or both, you’ve got to address a litany of reasons why consumers prefer shopping online vs. in stores. If you’re an etailer, it means capitalizing on these reasons. If you have a store, it means combating them. Either way, they can’t be ignored.

Google's paid ads: What will the impact be for marketers? Dorothy Weaver, VP of digital marketing services at Acquirgy, and Tej Shah, VP of e-commerce and marketing at Blue Soda Promo, weigh in.

With 300-plus direct response TV campaigns under our belt and more than 15 years of experience in online customer acquisition, I believe there's nothing more important than wrapping one's head around the critical roles of websites and search in DRTV campaigns. They are all so tightly intertwined and as a result impact your DRTV media planning and buying in a major way. 

What do Ginsu Knives, Pocket Fisherman, Power Juicers, Thighmaster, Woks and “Stop The Insanity” have in common? They are the “old school” of infomercials and short-forms, popular last century and, quite honestly, their late night country fair style of hawking has left a somewhat negative impression of our industry.

About a month ago, we opined ( about how Google’s major announcement would affect marketers. Recently Bing (Microsoft) announced several changes to their adCenter, so today we present our POV on them.

Here’s an online shopping experience that recently happened to me, one that is played out, mostly likely, millions of times every single day. And it’s costing etailers untold hundreds of millions per year in sales and profits. And it wreaks havoc with all of the acquisition campaigns – DRTV, search, display, social – where significant dollars are invested, only to be wasted when customers abandon their online shopping carts due to excessive S&H costs.

The other day I overheard a conversation between my wife (who heads up fundraising efforts at a regional medical center) and a potential donor. What captured my attention was the phrase she used to summarize her philosophy.

It’s a pretty nifty unique selling proposition and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it can apply to us capitalists selling products and services.

“We do fundraising and friendraising” pretty much says it all, and it presents both opportunities equally and succinctly. People she talks with can either give money or become friends of the hospital and see where that goes. Two good choices, ideal for someone ready to give or someone ready to learn more.

My wife and I were in New York City this past weekend, and we stumbled upon the 3rd Avenue street fair, a collection of vendors selling a wide range of goods and purveyors of a wide range of foods.

It’s been some 15 years that I’ve been involved in online customer acquisition, having started my journey in 1996 in the “Wild West” days of the ‘Net. I’ve seen technologies and platforms come and go and have learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t.

If there’s one overriding lesson, it’s that everything you do online is truly a double-edged sword. If you do it right, the rewards are great. If you do it wrong, the results can be disastrous. Consumers can praise you as well as diss you, and they can do both fast and easily. Here are a few examples to illustrate this point.

Marketers are wondering how Google’s recently announced (11/2/11) change is going to impact their paid search programs. Unlike tweaks that have no major impact, the announcements by Google could have a significant impact on SEM programs.

Our search team has been studying this change. Continue reading for our POV on it.

In this day and age where CEOs are demanding that CMOs produce ROI-based results, and where customer acquisition is more important than ever, a marketer’s mindset may be in need of a tune-up.

Right now, this minute, you could be spending on catalog and/or postal mail drops, DRTV commercials, print ads or any number of advertising tactics, and you could be losing potential customers to competitors on your dollar. Surely this is not something you want to hear, but it’s something you need to address.

We live in a world where data, technology, analysis, measurement, tracking, metrics and profitability have taken center stage. In recent years, there has been an explosion of analytical tools to measure key metrics. Advertisers and their agencies have been using them with great success.

Yes, liking, tweeting, Googling and stumbling get all the press these days. Yet Direct Response TV (DRTV) keeps on growing and growing and remains the #1 medium for many direct response marketers. While not appropriate for every product or service, DRTV has emerged as the workhorse, powering exponential growth and building brands in the process.

Before I answer that question, humor me for a minute to give you an analogy. I’m a big NY Giants football fan, and every Sunday at our tailgate, I ask fellow Giants fans the same question: “What’s the single most important thing the Giants have to do to win today?”

Back in the late 70’s to early 80’s when I was a young man, I owned a small ad agency. One of my accounts was the Stonehenge Computer store in Summit, NJ, and I fell in love with the Apple computers they sold. I ended up bartering ad services for my first Apple II, and wrote a handful of books about the impending “computer revolution” as I called it.

We coined this word to describe the right balance between technology and people in our paid search practice. The thought practice behind this concept applies to just about every other technology that is out there.

Internet Retailer’s SEM Survey (August, 2011) gives us numerous clues as to how paid search programs can be expanded, optimized and enhanced to produce more sales (or leads), revenues and profits.

The great NBA championship teams have a lot in common with our philosophy in terms of the design of acquisition programs for our clients.

Successful paid search campaigns are built around four interrelated steps that must be in sync with each other to generate maximum conversions. When any one (or more) of these is irrelevant, the entire process breaks down.

An easy-to-implement four-part plan can put manufacturers way ahead of their competition if they embrace it...but in danger of falling behind if they don't. Learn why.

Is the lowest price SEM agency the best way to go?

You need to know when they make sense and when they can do damage to your paid search program. 


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