By Rebecca Barr, Executive Vice President

All systems are go for your new American DRTV media campaign: plans have been meticulously assembled, rates negotiated, buys placed but, regrettably, response rates are lower than expected. Now what?

Well, before you hit the panic button, here are five proven tips to optimize your DRTV media for the American market, increase response rates and dramatically increase your ROI.

  1. Renegotiate the Rates
    Keep in mind that if a station’s inventory is limited and the rate reductions are too drastic, you will go from clearing 100% to 0%. Booking spots at 25% of the original rate is a win on paper, but not clearing can also be detrimental to your campaign. Your media buyer should make informed decisions when reducing rates.If you cleared 100% of the media booked but your dayparts and stations performed poorly, negotiating lower rates is the first logical step. Your media buyer can work with each station to determine how much you can reduce your rates while still clearing a good portion of the schedule. If your agency has good relationships with the stations, they should be able to negotiate rate reductions that will keep you both on the air and profitable.
  2. Narrow Your Dayparts
    When reviewing results by daypart, it’s critical to break out the hourly performance and note the corresponding programming. From here, your media buyer can isolate which areas of the daypart or specific programs are performing the best. For example, if you have a 9a-4p daypart that is under-delivering overall, your media buyer should assess the performance within that daypart. If spots clearing 9a-12n are performing poorly, but 12n-4p is performing really well, your buyer can work with the station to narrow the daypart to 12n-4p. You will be surprised to see how much performance improves without the dead weight.
  3. Pay More
    Yes, you read that right. While paying more to air an unprofitable campaign may appear counter-intuitive, it’s actually a sound strategy.Building on Tip 2, some campaigns perform exceedingly well at certain, very specific times. For example, through analysis we discovered for a client that one daypart (10a-4p) was performing at a $96 media cost per lead (CPL), well over their $50 media CPL goal. Upon closer review, we discovered that one program airing 10a-11a was delivering an astounding $12 media CPL – four times better than goal! The problem for this client, however, was that very few of their spots were clearing during this time. We worked with the station to narrow the daypart to only include the best-performing hour. It’s important to keep in mind that narrowing a six-hour daypart down to one hour can significantly increase the rate required to air. The rate can be double, even triple that which was necessary to air in the whole daypart. The good news for this client is that their media CPL in the targeted area was four times better than goal, which meant they could afford up to four times the previous rate paid for the daypart. Once this change was made, our client saw dramatic increases in efficient volume. We negotiated a rate that enabled them to clear about 90% of the media they booked and, overall, the media CPL came in consistently at $38.
  4. Crunch the Creative
    Yes, this is an article about media, but the fact is without good, effective creative, no amount of media optimization will help. Ask your DRTV agency for recommendations on improving the creative. If they are experienced and have a track record of proven success, they should possess a solid understanding of what makes a successful DRTV commercial. Some agencies, like ours, even have creative expertise in-house – use it. We have recommended small, quick changes that have lifted campaigns from below break-even to very profitable. Sometimes, a more significant change is required, but if you don’t ask the questions, you won’t get the answers.Remember that successful DRTV campaigns begin with a compelling creative. Don’t be afraid to ask your agency for their input. After all, they want a successful campaign as much as you do.
  5. Invest in Paid Search
    Following the previous steps should dramatically improve your media results across the board. However, if you have done everything recommended and the results are still not there, the time has come to strategically cancel the areas that show no improvement, despite the best efforts of your agency.The key to trimming and eventually canceling is to do it in a logical, prioritized sequence. If your return is still below target in one or more dayparts, ask your DRTV agency to eliminate those dayparts first. Remember, stations want your business and will work with you to keep you on the air. Immediately canceling a station means you may miss an opportunity in an individual daypart that may hold substantial bottom-line value.DRTV Media is organic and constantly shifting, requiring continual management. If your targets aren’t being met, your agency should employ the tactics outlined above to help recover performance and improve bottom-line ROI. The tips summarized here are designed to enable quick course correction when your campaign appears to have legs but is under-delivering on your financial objectives. Minor changes can often yield the most dramatic improvements!
We can help optimize your media.