As the rush to take advantage of cheap TV pricing continues, it is important at this critical time to remember the basic principles of a direct response (DR) ad, even in an age of low-fi (if I see one more Zoom call spot) and homemade TV creatives. The recent return of live action filming is a welcome sight as we slowly phase out of lockdown, but the principles still apply if the objective of the ad is to sell: i.e. not to simply inform or just display a positive message about current times.
Therefore, it makes sense to reinforce the mechanics that we believe make a strong DRTV spot, hopefully proving useful to brands looking to repurpose or create a new ad to hit the airwaves with.
This may sound basic, but every ad needs a voiceover. Don’t let the creative agency tell you that a funky soundtrack and arty visuals can tell the story and sell the product. TV advertising works best when sound and vision work in tandem to deliver the key messages. TV can sometimes be watched passively: the consumer is often distracted, likely with a second screen, but the principle is the same. A strong voiceover will continue to ‘tell and sell’ when attention is not necessarily fixed on the screen.
One key test before you approve your DR ad… Find a quiet room, put your ad on screen and press play and watch it through. Now turn your chair around face away from the screen and replay the ad. If you can still pick out the product, benefit, offer and CTA then you are on the right track.
Call to action (CTA)
The brand’s website URL or search term needs to be displayed throughout the entire ad, not just the last 2 seconds. A phone number is also effective for businesses with older audiences or obvious call centre requirements. CTAs should be delivered by the voiceover and reinforced at the end of the ad.
Think about your audience and key performance indicators (KPIs) before committing to a time length. If driving visits to the site is a primary consideration, then a 30” or even 20” (at a push) will probably suffice. If you are targeting an older audience and phone response is a primary consideration, then 60” or even 90” spots are to be considered.
If possible, include an offer (benefit) for your potential consumer. Cash is good, but discounts also work well. This approach will result in a stronger response and conversion which will more than offset margin loss.
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