DRTV: The complete player

June 9, 2011

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By: Kristi Tropp, VP, Director of Client Services, Mercury Media Boston

As marketers, we all aspire to hit home runs. We want to be part of “that campaign” that delivers immediate sales, shatters revenue projections, and maybe even wins a few awards. In the DRTV business, we certainly want those campaigns, and we want them regularly. The reality, however, is that few agencies are fortunate to get even one of those on a direct to consumer basis. But we do- because we pride ourselves more on DRTV campaigns that achieve success based on smart planning, sound media buying, real time data and analytics, compelling creative, and, just as importantly, a very strict vetting process! In short, we’re in it for the long term, regardless of whether success is immediate or a bit more hard-earned.

“Hard-earned” and “long-term” are not the sexiest words in the DRTV lexicon, but it struck me in a recent round of client meetings that we need to change that perception. In this business, we’re very good at promising,  measuring and delivering immediacy. Campaign hits on day one, sales hit in week one, increase in week two, and a campaign is optimized for successful responses in week three…… and everyone’s happy. We should aspire to more.  Four concepts are still missing from overall DRTV planning and goals that should be top of mind for every DRTV launch:
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Mercury Media’s Cheryl Green Named to CableFAX’s “Sweet Sixteen of Cable” for a Second Year in a Row

May 23, 2011

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We are thrilled to announce that our Sr. VP Media Director Cheryl Green has been selected as one of CableFax’s “Sweet Sixteen of Cable,” for a second year in a row!  CableFAX’s “Sweet Sixteen” is an industry hot list of brand marketers and media buyers who “get it” when it comes to the power of cable as a marketing vehicle.  We have to agree – Cheryl singlehandedly brought infomercial products to primetime TV, coordinating the first ever placement of an infomercial on the Discovery Channel.  Check out her exclusive interview with CableFAX below!

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May 18, 2011

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By: Olga Ackad, VP, Director of Client Services, Mercury Media Santa Monica

Agency of Record. In the world of advertising, agencies strive for this label. However, for Long Form Direct Response, this has become a rarity. More and more, marketers are working with multiple agencies. While the upfront implications of this may appear positive, ultimately, this can harm not only one marketer’s campaign, but the general state of the industry.

Why are marketers using multiple agencies? There are two core reasons: Long Form media is finite. Any given station will only open so much time for 28:30 programming and many don’t have long form inventory available at all. Marketers seem to believe that they need more than one agency to get a sufficient quantity of media time. The second factor often has to do with creating a competitive atmosphere among their media partners so as to facilitate a “hunger” within each agency.

As with all things, there are pros and cons to this thinking. Every agency has time that’s proprietary to them. But does that third, fourth, fifth, etc. agency have enough unique time that it outweighs the risk? In most cases, the answer is no. So what exactly is at risk?  Read the rest of this entry »

Reaching Consumers Reeling from the Great Recession

April 12, 2011

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By: Michael Goodman, Strategic Analyst, Mercury Media

Over the course of the past three years the American economy has been laboring to get out from under a recession the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression of 1929-33. As a result, Americans’ are lowering their expectations about retirement and their children’s future; are becoming thriftier; and are concerned over how long it will take for their finances to recover.

According to the University of Michigan’s Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID), median household wealth decreased by an estimated 19% from 2007 to 2009. As a result, consumer lifestyles are changing. According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. households have cut back on household spending during the recession and 71% of buying less expensive brands. Rather than short-term adaptations to economic circumstances these changes seem to be fundamental changes in consumer buying patterns. Forty-eight percent of U.S. households said they plan to save more and 31% say they are going to spend less once the economy recovers.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to marketers. Read the rest of this entry »

Better, Faster, Cheaper

March 31, 2011

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By: Jennifer Sullivan, VP, Group Account Director, Mercury Media Boston

Imagine this. Your business is thriving. Revenue is up, the pipeline is full, and customer satisfaction is the highest it has ever been. Your media plan is solid; you’re gathering great data and are maintaining one of the highest conversion percentages in the company’s history. One day you get an email. Your biggest retailer in your biggest market is instituting a new policy. No longer will that account stock product in your category to provide service and selection to the current and potential customer base. The account is whittling down to one product for your category and it will be based on the lowest price.

It’s not some kind of business Twilight Zone. Versions of it have happened over the years with many Big Box retailers, but recently a severe situation is playing out between Medicare and the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) businesses like power chairs, diabetes supplies, oxygen delivery, catheters, etc.,  which relies heavily on direct response TV. Here’s the very short version: A process called “Competitive Bidding” was implemented on January 1, 2011 by Medicare in nine DMAs (Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh & Riverside) in an effort for the government to control costs and cut down on fraud. The second round of bids is expected to take place within the next year or so, potentially expanding the program in upwards of 70 cities.

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DRTV Look at Pros vs. Joes

March 15, 2011

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By:  Chrissy Ferrier, Creative Director, Mercury Media Boston

“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.” The phrase was so overused a few years ago that the practice of using actors for testimonials in Direct Response ads  was viewed negatively;  however, it’s time to reconsider. Professional actors can be a positive factor in the ROI of a Direct Response TV campaign (DRTV). It’s not to say that “real customers” won’t provide the response rates and returns necessary for some products. But let’s look at the reality of the “pros vs. Joes” in DRTV.

First, professional actors are an essential part of the efficient budget choices a company makes when they budget for and then shoot creative for an effective DRTV campaign.  With real customers, you never know what you are going to get in terms of performance.  Real people are nervous when the camera is on and unless you have an exceptional director, the client runs the risk of coming up short with content, and in this case the testimonial is the content. Are you ready to risk that for the possibility that just maybe, a real customer will come up with a more authentic, grassroots tone?
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Our New Year’s Commitment

January 24, 2011

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New Year’s predictions are over. That’s fine with me, because I don’t believe in them too much. At Mercury Media we recommitted to our resolutions long before the ball dropped on 2011. Our resolution has everything to do with clients and their customers. We’re committed to our Performance Guarantee for TV model (PGM).

Mercury Media is the only agency offering large-scale PGM advertising in North America.  So instead of paying for your broadcast media based on CPM’s or GRP’s, we will provide it to you based on a guaranteed CPL (cost per lead) or CPS (cost per sale). These are not PI’s.  We buy proven, top performing, paid media on behalf of our clients and we share the risk with them for any short-form execution.
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Los Angeles Business Journal: Hispanic Accent

January 11, 2011

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Mercury Media’s Mercury en español was featured in this week’s Los Angeles Business Journal alongside client Suma Visa Prepaid Cards.  Reporter Joel Russell’s “Hispanic Accent” explores the opportunities and challenges of direct response advertising en español.  See complete article below or on the Los Angeles Business Journal website.

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Building Your Brand through DRTV

November 22, 2010

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By: Michael Goodman, Senior Director of Analytics, Mercury Media Boston

Branding is not typically associated with direct response agencies, but it should be as all advertising, including direct response, impacts the brand. The challenge is leaving the right impression and doing so on purpose.

Traditional agencies and direct response agencies go about achieving this differently. Traditional agencies want to raise awareness about a product or service and create positive feelings such as “this brand understands you” or “our brand’s cool, if you use it you will be to.” Direct response agencies believe consumers respond when products and services are relevant to them. If an ad doesn’t communicate a product or service’s benefit, then the consumer has little reason to respond.

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Building Performance Measurement Discipline into your Campaign

October 18, 2010


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John Wanamaker, considered by many to be the father of advertising, once said “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Were John was alive today it is likely he would be a leading advocate for performance marketing and analytics.

Performance metrics and analytics serve as the foundation upon which strategic and tactical decisions should be based. They are powerful tools to improving performance and assure a positive return on your advertising dollar. Without these tools, marketers, just like John Wanamaker in his day,  must rely on gut feelings to understanding what is driving results. That is often a poor substitute for hard data. But for many companies, analytics are an afterthought compared with strategy and campaign development.
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