Have Your PI and Eat It Too


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By: Doug Fox, Senior Director of Business Development, Mercury Media Boston

Mom always said you couldn’t have your Pie and eat it too.

Well DRTV advertisers these days are having lots of PI. Per Inquiry or PI’s are an important part of any DRTV effort. Companies such as RevShare and MMSI have built thriving businesses that add low risk sales to every campaign.

But PI’s are never enough.

The PI approach is definitely very low risk, but it also very low reward. PI agencies aren’t actually taking on any risk, they are acting as a broker between you and the TV networks to acquire their leftover inventory. This is inventory that’s been picked over many times and then is finally offered on a Per Inquiry (PI) basis, as opposed to donating it to non-profits.

The PI approach drives very low volume, and also very inconsistent volume. Slots that perform for you one week will be unavailable the next week either because they’re sold elsewhere or because another PI advertiser (maybe even one of your competitors) is willing to pay 1$ more per call. You’ll deal with lead volumes plus or minus 50%, so it is impossible to scale your business solely on the basis of PI’s. If you’re depending on your TV PI’s to hit your quarterly number it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

So that leads to paid buys.

Paid buys give you the opportunity to buy top performing shows, networks and dayparts – to drive real volume. But unlike PI’s, you’re taking on risk as a company. If your new creative doesn’t perform, you’re still paying as much for your media. And if rates spike, your CPO’s will go right along with them. This type of high risk, high reward has cost many a CMO their job.

Well what if you could get the volume of a paid buy with the risk mitigation of a PI?

You can. With Mercury’s Guaranteed CPA for TV program, we buy top performing networks and dayparts several steps before they would ever be offered on the PI market. We then take on risk on your behalf and guarantee the CPA and volume. If we fall short, because of rates or clearance issues, we have to keep buying more media out of our own pocket to hit our volume guarantee. So at least, there’d by one part of your quarterly number that you wouldn’t have to worry about.

Plus, the PI approach, since so much of it runs in the overnight and in low appeal dayparts, will have limited impact on your online efforts. This is where our approach can really help you supercharge and get the most out of your existing online spends.

So for small investment for some shared learning over a few weeks, we can then give you a large piece of the largest national lead volume source, with a partner willing to share the risk with you in the efforts. I’m confident it will be the best investment you can make in 2010.

Then give your mom a call. I’m sure she’ll be proud.

Doug Fox is Senior Director of Business Development for Mercury Media. Fox brings more than fifteen years of marketing and business development experience, having led brand development and demand generation engagements with a range of brands spanning consumer products, fashion, financial services and technology.

Contact him at dfox@mercurymedia.com

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