DRTV – A Guide by Chamber (Part Two)
Measurement and optimisation of your DRTV airtime
A common method for measuring effectiveness is spot matching, where you look at the time the TV spot went out and then compare it to any time series based response data (typically web traffic). There are a range of tools available to do this (check out TVSquared and Adalyser) and it can also be achieved manually/via Excel formulaes (which are normally more trouble than they are worth). Fundamentally the process is similar across all of them.
When we think of web traffic within advertising, typical focus points are people going directly to your site by typing in the URL and searching via web search engines, with other traffic from say display or affiliate activity less likely to see action from TV responders.
However, this only typically picks up a certain percentage of all responses. Other methods can be used to try and establish overall uplifts: often, for a first time TV advertiser, comparing the period of TV campaign to the “off period” before is a good start for looking at TV’s overall business impact.
Other – but lesser used – methods include the use of specific offer codes, specific website URLs and/or telephone numbers that only appear on the TV adverts and nowhere else . This has become less popular and relevant as people start to use Google as more of a gateway to find websites, and can’t be relied upon to capture all responses
Spot matching’s main use is a comparative tool for the way that different airtime performs. If you assume any error is standard across all spots and that repeating this against thousands of TV spots helps to improve accuracy, it allows you to make informed decision as to which type of TV channel, day of week, daypart, creative etc. is the most effective for your advertising, which allows you to make relevant optimisations.
Automated spot matching platforms contain site tags that are used to attribute responses and actions automatically against TV spots that are loaded into the platform by the media agency.
This sometimes feels like you can optimise on a level equivalent to, say, Adwords with Google, but the reality is different. TV plans are booked monthly, with money committed to each saleshouse and with little flexibility to move. The saleshouse’s first priority is to deliver enough airtime to fulfil the plan, but can help move airtime once the plan is “in flight”. However, there are practical limits to what can be achieved.
For example, if a channel is performing poorly, but is one of the saleshouse’s largest, they may be able to downweight the investment in the channel, but not completely remove it because this will affect the ability to deliver the plan.
Buying and planning an effective campaign
Typically, spend is the main drive of direct response efficiency, which is ultimately the key driver to any type of cost per response or acquisition. DRTV campaigns typically run from around £50-£400k per month. Any spend beyond the £400k mark becomes very difficult to deliver without a very heavy frequency of advert exposure to the audience, making it less efficient and delivering fewer incremental returns.
DRTV is bought on all adult cost per thousand basis, meaning you pay £X per every thousand individuals determined by BARB to have watched the spot.
Money is committed at a salehouse level on a monthly basis, with each saleshouse representing a range of different stations. Sky and then Channel 4 saleshouses dominate DRTV plans, and cover a range of TV stations outside of their owned platforms, on which they manage sales on behalf of smaller stations.
Channel selection is possible and is normally planned to deliver effectively to your audience. However results don’t necessarily always reflect the audience, with a range of factors having impact (how many times your spot has been on that channel, the current programming, etc.). This initial estimate of the likely efficient channels is overridden by the comparative performance seen from spot matching.
Zero rated spots – a driver of efficiency
One of the core dynamics of DRTV effectiveness is the zero rated spot phenomenon. Zero rated means any TV spot where BARB has registered no viewers (where the number of viewers in the BARB).
So, as TV is bought on a cost per thousand, the spot is effectively free. While BARB sees no viewers, there are still likely to be some who have responded.
This often means that smaller TV stations with lower viewing figures and more zero rate spots appear more efficient.
This needs to be approached with some degree of caution. Firstly, trying to optimise against zero rated spotted stations is difficult (as all advertisers would like to, and obviously saleshouses would rather you advertise in airtime you pay for). Also, TV spot matching has a tendency to over attribute to these spots (as they are looking to attribute a response to a sale, they will still do this to these spots with minimal viewing.).
Timings – Ignoring AB deadlines
AB deadlines are sometimes imposed by larger agencies, but aren’t necessary for DRTV where securing the biggest spots in most popular programming isn’t the priority.
AB deadlines are much more relevant for brand campaigns where securing the most in-demand peak spots is focus, but still is often not required to execute a good brand TV campaign.
The requirement to book so far in advance (often by two months, see ITV’s here), has implication on the ability to optimise a DRTV plan. Good media agencies look to book DRTV before the autogeneration deadlines (where automated systems allocated airtime to advertisers), with this being typically around one month before the TV broadcast. Some element of TV airtime can be bought even closer to the campaign, but there will be less flexibility depending on which advertising is left.
Getting to a great DRTV plan
This guide still only provides a top-line view of getting to a great responsive DRTV plan. Picking the right partner is vital, one that will give you both an objective view on whether DRTV is the most appropriate advertising channel for you
and then ultimately help you create the best plan for your brand.
At Chamber we specialise in helping startups and e-commerce companies evaluate the best marketing approach, and have experience in implementing successful and long term DRTV strategies for a broad range of clients. For further information on the best approach for your business, please get in touch.