At first look, it’s hard to imagine two more diametrically opposed mediums than the young yet sophisticated upstart known as digital advertising, and the old school “loud and proud” world of DRTV.

But looks can be deceiving.

The truth is, not only do digital marketing and DRTV share a common ethos (measurability/accountability), but the rise of digital advertising has actually fueled a resurgence in DRTV.

The first way that digital advertising has helped ignite the DRTV renaissance is through the application of digital advertising technology to enhance DRTV measurement and attribution.

I know, I know! DRTV has always been measurable. But now that 80% of DRTV response goes to a digital channel rather than to a call centre, the measurability has increased exponentially. Using a vast array of digital tools from Google Analytics to Tableau, we now track, measure, attribute and optimize TV—especially DRTV—almost as precisely as we do digital marketing.

We can see the impact DRTV has, not just on clicks but also on conversions, enabling us to apply the same rigorous ROI approach to TV as we do with digital advertising.

Digital technologies, specifically Programmatic, which is an auction-based media buying format, is also changing the TV media landscape. Programmatic media buying actually levels the media playing field while helping to curb the back door deals that for years have favoured big buyers over smaller rivals.

The second way digital is driving growth in DRTV is by producing a new generation of marketers who are fully conversant in the medium of measurable, performance-based advertising and who intuitively “get” DRTV.

Why? Because marketers raised in the digital world learn very early something most die-hard brand advertisers never grasp—namely, that not all TV creative performs equally well. They know from firsthand experience that even small changes in creative (such as copy or offers) can, and do, have a profound impact upon the performance of a given campaign.

As a result, when they do TV, they often prefer DRTV over a pure brand approach because it offers them the same opportunities to test and optimize that they have come to expect from digital advertising.

In these ways, DRTV has benefited enormously from technological innovations created by digital technology and the skill set it has given rise to; however, it is not a one-way street. DRTV, in turn, has proven to be a very useful tool for digital marketers. The reason is a little something called scale.

Growth, growth, growth

As we know, digital advertising can be extraordinarily cost effective. In fact, I personally believe that search is the most cost-effective form of advertising ever created. And other digital advertising tactics (including banner ads, Facebook and social) are also, under the right circumstances, both effective and cost efficient; however, what digital advertising doesn’t do especially well is build brand awareness, which is a huge problem because nothing drives digital growth like an uptick in brand awareness.

Companies have learned that when TV is added to their marketing mix the result is mass exposure and increased brand awareness, which, in turn, fuels brand search, organic and improved CTRs.

The awareness generating power of TV has driven even born and bred e-commerce companies (including titans like Amazon, Google, Netflix, Expedia, Ancestry and eBay, among many others) to embrace TV, which is, after all, the most mass of all mass mediums.

Who would have guessed, that digital marketing would fuel the new age of DRTV? But that is exactly what has happened and the future for both mediums looks very bright indeed!


This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Pippa Nutt

Pippa Nutt

Pippa Nutt is the Senior Vice President, Digital and Canadian Media at Northern Lights Direct Response.

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