Direct Response TV (DRTV) and Infomercial Marketing

The Power of the Half Hour™ - What is a Long Form Infomercial?

Long form refers to any TV commercial longer than two minutes. This was the accepted term for an infomercial from 1984 until “infomercial” came into vogue in 1988.

Long Form Infomercial Production

Creative Strategy for Infomercial Production

The foundation for any infomercial is the creative strategy, outlined in the creative brief. It spells out the marketing and advertising objectives and the tone and manner of the show. It defines the primary and secondary target audience, lists the most important features and benefits of the product/service, addresses executional considerations, states the product offer(s) and then communication message that is to be conveyed by the show. The creative strategy is based on marketing and product information provided by you, the client.

Infomercial Creative Elements

  • Testimonials
  • Before and afters
  • Expert witness
  • Demonstrations
  • Real testimonials vs. actors
  • Money shots
  • Mall intercepts
  • Animation
  • Scientific Research
  • Spot Length
    • "The more you tell, the more you
    • More information can be delivered in
      a 120- or 60- second message than in a 30- or 15-second
  • Approach
    • DRTV is less drama focused
    • DRTV is more demo focused ("Seeing
      is believing")
    • DRTV is more problem-solution

DRTV Consumer

Media Buying

Infomercial media buying is highly specialized. It’s miles apart from image spot buying, and half-hour media is quite different from DRTV spot buying (60 and 120 seconds). While brand advertisers pay a premium for guaranteed placements, direct response advertisers buy remnant media at discounted rates. Brand advertisers use reach and frequency to measure effectiveness, while direct response advertisers measure purely in terms of sales or leads.

The infomercial media world is a relatively narrow marketplace and is controlled largely by the stations and the handful of companies who specialize in this highly targeted medium. Most advertisers will find it is a sellers’ market, in that there is much greater demand for time than the amount of time that is available.

The life span of an infomercial campaign in terms of media consists of the following steps:

  • Media Test: A sampling of selected low-cost telecasts, usually over a two-week time span, to measure consumer response and determine the viability of the offer and creative components of an infomercial.
  • Ramp-Up: After a test is decidedly successful, the media is ramped-up over the first 30 days of the campaign. The most successful venues from the test are isolated and re-booked, expanding to new dayparts within the strongest regions and gradually adding new venues.
  • Roll-Out: A gradual roll-out generally takes place over a period of 30-60 days. Media is booked based on the goals of the specific campaign and the weekly or monthly budget levels agreed upon by you and the account management team. Each distinct time slot is measured in terms of response. Not all new stations and time periods will be successful, but it is important to test new venues in order to prolong the life of the campaign. Non-working media will be canceled, and media that is performing well is re-booked as the base of “working” media expands. Guiding an infomercial media roll-out campaign entails constant scrutiny of working media and continued testing of new markets, stations and time slots.

While there have been some incredibly long-lasting infomercial campaigns, most advertisers will find that response begins to show signs of deterioration after 9–18 months. If the product is seasonal, possibly after 3-6 months. Creative ideas for a new or revised infomercial should be in the works by this time.

"The more you tell, the more
you sell."

- Anonymous

"Forget words like 'hard
sell' and 'soft sell.' That will only confuse you. Just be
sure your advertising is saying something with substance,
something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be
sure you're saying it like it's never been said before."

- Bill Bernbach