Measurability, flexibility, channel capacity

DRTV moving uptownDirect response TV in Canada has shed its low-rent image and the industry could be worth as much as $650 million a year before long, says one of the country's top direct response executives.Brand-drivenBrian Fetherstonhaugh, president of Ogilvy &...

DRTV moving uptown

Direct response TV in Canada has shed its low-rent image and the industry could be worth as much as $650 million a year before long, says one of the country’s top direct response executives.


Brian Fetherstonhaugh, president of Ogilvy & Mather Direct in Toronto, says direct response tv is moving uptown with brand-driven advertising from such firms as American Express, at&t, Unitel and The Financial Post.

In fact, Fetherstonhaugh told a recent Broadcast Executives Society luncheon in Toronto, Unitel’s direct response tv campaign was the most successful in Canadian history, generating 500,000 phone calls to and 100,000 new customers for the long-distance carrier.

Reasons for the attractiveness of drtv are fundamental, Fetherstonhaugh says.

He says they are its ‘measurability,’ its flexibility and the growth of channel capacity.

He also says tough economic times have helped the cause of drtv.

‘There is no question that in the short term the recession and softer demand for a number of media products is opening up pockets of availability and some openness, I think, on the behalf of broadcasters and other people to experiment,’ Fetherstonhaugh says.

‘But [drtv is] here, it’s growing, and it’s definitely here to stay,’ he says.

Toll-free numbers

In the u.s. where drtv is much more developed, Fetherstonhaugh says 20% of all tv advertising carries a toll-free phone number as does one-third of cable tv advertising.

He says growth rates down there are in the order of 13% to 15% a year.

As for whether this country is ready for drtv, Fetherstonhaugh notes in 1992 Canadians bought $70 million worth of goods from u.s.-originated direct response advertising.

He says one of the keys to understanding drtv is the way its effectiveness is measured.

According to Fetherstonhaugh, users of direct response television should evaluate it on cost per lead and cost per order rather than employ the traditional tv advertising measurement methods of cost per thousand and gross ratings points.

Two-minute spots

As for the right length of a drtv commercial, Ogilvy & Mather Direct has found that two-minute spots usually work best, although the agency has had some success with 30-second spots, too.

Fetherstonhaugh says worries that drtv costs will eat into image advertising budgets are unfounded because advertisers actually increase their budgets once they see how well direct response television works.

Again using Unitel as an example, Fetherstonhaugh says the phone company bumped up its direct response budget tenfold after its success with 1-800 advertising.