Average Spot Duration

In a prior post, the “% of local” vs. “% of national” was discussed as well as the influence these values have on a brand’s spend index.  DRMetrix plans to add something new to its reports that will provide even greater insight.  We call it the “Average Spot Duration” or “ASD” for short and it will help to explain one of the largest variables affecting advertiser spend.

When looking at our monthly ranking report, it helps to understand that DRMetrix considers ad lengths up to 2 minutes in the short-form category.  We feel this is reasonable as 90 and 120 seconds are often used by DRTV advertisers and the industry largely considers these formats to be short-form.

All other things being equal, the value of a 2 minute spot is worth a multiple of what a 30 or 60 second spot is worth.  Given that some brands may be airing a larger percentage of 2 minute spots, their spend index could be higher despite their aggregate ad units being lower.  This is difficult to understand in the absence of having an “average spot duration” value.

Accordingly, DRMetrix will include a single ASD value that will help to explain when certain short-form campaigns are using a higher percentage of 90 and/or 120 spots.  In such cases, the ASD value will be on the high side, ie: “115s”.  Another campaign running predominately 30 second spots would have a lower ASD value ie: “38s”. By referencing this one column it will make it clear to all the average spot duration that particular brands are airing. The effect that the ASD value has on the overall spend index will be also be better understood.

Even with an ASD value, we know that all campaigns are not executed equally with regard to network and daypart mix.  These differences can also affect a brand’s spend index and there is only so much DRMetrix can do to convey these types of variances on a one page report.   Hopefully, adding an ASD value is a step in the right direction and one that everyone will appreciate!

We’d love to have your input on this and any other questions or comments you may have.

Short Form Conundrum

Behind the scenes, we’ve been struggling with how to best categorize and represent different short form campaigns in DRMetrix ranking reports. For our friends in the industry that follow this blog, we’d love to hear from you and what you think of our approach.

While slightly depressing to ponder, I began in this industry 26 years ago. Back then, everything seemed so simple and I was young and carefree. Well, young anyway. Traditional DR short form was comprised primarily of impulse products being sold via one step call to order. Ironically, that is the definition of DR that mainstream media research companies still use today which explains why DRTV airings have been so grossly under-reported, but I digress. The point is that short form offers used to fit neatly into a singular category ie: “Short Form DR Products”. Unfortunately, it’s not so simple today.

Our first industry report will be published later this month and we created a category for these type of traditional DRTV product campaigns and cleverly named it “Top 10 Traditional Short-Form DR Products“. We also included a section for “Top 10 Long-Form Products” which left just enough room to include “Top 5 Lead Generation & Top 5 Brand/DR Campaigns”. There are many ways to categorize and break out DRTV campaigns but we thought these four categories were a reasonable approach.

Industry ranking reports have been around for a number of years and it seems one of the prevalent uses has been within the retail industry. If you can get your product high enough in the rankings it may help to convince retailers to carry it. We understand the value of ranking traditional products but with very few exceptions these campaigns do not spend enough to achieve a top 10 ranking if you include DR lead generation campaigns in the same category. This may be one reason why DR lead generation campaigns have been largely overlooked in industry reports.

If you examine DRMetrix’s January report, you’ll see that 90% of the top 10 traditional short form products had a spend rank significantly lower than campaigns listed under lead generation. We think this demonstrates why traditional short form DR products need their own section.

Next month, we plan on adding some additional language to the disclaimer that appears on our report page as follows: Traditional short form will only include “call to order” campaigns where price is specifically disclosed in the spot. For services, low cost trial campaigns, or spots without a price, these campaigns will be ranked separately under lead generation. For the Brand DR category, our disclaimer currently states that this section is reserved for campaigns that do not utilize the traditional approach of tracking cost-per-call or per-lead by individual network. Rather, they commonly utilize the same vanity toll-free number or web address across all media.

Our current approach to categorization only leaves room to rank the top 5 lead generation and brand campaigns unless we go to a second page. Would you prefer that our monthly report continues to focus on traditional categories or would you like more emphasis placed on lead generation and brand/dr?  We’d appreciate your thoughts on the subject!

What is a meant by “national %” on DRMetrix’s new report?

DRMetrix is offering some new analytics in its industry report.  One that will cause the most confusion is “% of national”.  Simply put, “% National” let’s you know what percentage of the detected airings are true “national” airings vs. less expensive airings running in “local” cue tone ad breaks.  What’s most important to understand is that not all DRTV airings on National Cable Networks are equal.  DRMetrix’s “spend index” is therefore the most reliable way of understanding what one advertiser is spending in comparison to another.  It would be a huge mistake to think because one advertiser has more airings that they are spending more.  It would also be incorrect to think that the advertiser with the higher number of airings is having their ad exposed to more television viewers.  The reason for this is based on the fact that certain national cable spot inventory is worth about 10 cents on the dollar and is only viewed by a small % of U.S. households.  Want all the details?  Keep reading…

As stated, it is important to understand that there are two different types of “ad breaks” that national cable networks sell.  DRTV media buyers refer to these two different types of inventory as “national” and “local” – (“local” meaning inventory in local cue tone ad breaks on the networks).

The “national” ad break is easiest to explain, it’s when the network inserts a commercial that is seen on the TV screen of every cable viewer that is watching that particular network.  This is the inventory that companies like Nielsen rate and is purchased by both traditional brand and DRTV advertisers.  As a general rule of thumb, cable networks run a local break for 2 minutes out of every hour of programming.  The “local” ad break is when the local TV provider has the opportunity to sell and insert a local advertisement.  Let’s use Comcast as an example of a local TV provider that sells local advertising in communities across the country.  It’s true to say that Comcast doesn’t sell advertising in every local market on every cable network.  So if Comcast doesn’t insert an ad during a local break will the viewer be left watching static?  Fortunately, this doesn’t happen because the cable network always sells this inventory as a “local”.  If Comcast has sold the inventory, they simply “cover up” the network’s “local” with the commercial of a local market Comcast advertiser.

Many of us may recall a time when we were watching a commercial and the cover up ended prematurely allowing us to briefly see the end of another spot before programming resumed.  You now understand that the spot that was covered up was sold by the cable network as a “local”.  Since Nielsen doesn’t rate commercials running on cable networks in these local breaks, brand agencies don’t typically purchase this inventory.  DRTV advertisers, on the other hand, don’t rely on Nielsen to determine the value of inventory.  So, most cable networks will sell their “locals” to DRTV advertisers who understand that while their ad may be covered up in many urban markets they will still reach some rural market viewers.

When DRMetrix is monitoring network cable, we pay particular attention to both the national and local ad breaks.  Our technology is able to discern the difference between the two, which is an industry first.  This is a very important distinction and critically important as networks price the “local” at a fraction of the cost of a “national”.  The “local” may be perceived as a good deal for DRTV advertisers if they happen to reach 20% of the viewers for 10% of the “national” rate.  When DRMetrix calculates the “spend index” for any brand, we take these valuation differences into account.  In many cases, it helps to explain why some advertisers rank lower despite having higher overall airings.

DRMetrix to publish its first DRTV industry report in February

We are proud to announce that DRMetrix’s technology has been deployed and is currently monitoring national cable networks 24/7/365.  January has been a busy month for our team.  All hands were on deck and working overtime as we worked toward creating our first industry ranking report.  With over half a million DRTV airings detected in the month of January alone, we are looking forward to having our January results published in the February issue of Response Magazine.  Special thank you to the entire Response Magazine team!

We hope that the DRTV industry will come to understand and appreciate what DRMetrix has developed.  However, if you’re following this blog you may be interested in learning more of the details behind DRMetrix’s new technology.

The DRMetrix system monitors all commercials and programming on a 24/7 basis across National Cable Networks including brand spots, PSA, network promo spots, DRTV spots, and infomercials of every creative length.  Like finding a single strand of DNA, intelligent and automated technology analyzes and sorts through all of this content to find new DRTV spots and infomercials.  This is accomplished by the system’s unique ability to automatically recognize DRTV commercials based on the detection of DR attributes.  As an industry, we tend to use large toll free numbers, large fonts for web addresses, and even price points for traditional offers.  The DRMetrix system looks for these attributes and scores the likelihood that any new television creative is direct response.  DRMetrix’s approach also makes it possible to detect and monitor program length and other infomercial variations such as 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.

Whenever a new DR creative is discovered, a DRMetrix operator promptly views and registers the commercial.  A unique digital audio and video fingerprint is then created.  Through powerful and patented pattern recognition technology, DRMetrix’s system is able to detect each and every time a DRTV spot or infomercial airs.

Perhaps most critical, a DRTV system must be able to monitor both local and national breaks on network cable.  Most  networks sell both types of inventory but the value of a spot purchased in a local break is only worth a fraction of what a national spot is worth.  One can not accurately estimate DRTV spend without being able to monitor and delineate between these two different types of DRTV inventory.

2015 will be a year of exciting new developments and announcements here at DRMetrix so please stay tuned!  For now, we’re thrilled to kick off the year with our first ranking report.

I would like to thank our team who has worked extremely hard to get us to this point.  These accomplishments would not have been possible without the many dedicated and talented individuals working on two continents.  I would like to publicly recognize and thank my business partner, Brent Peterson, for all of his tireless efforts.  I challenge him every day with new and crazy ideas.  He continues to put up with me and helps to turn my ideas into reality. We have a long history together and I’m fortunate to have him join me in this latest adventure.  DRMetrix would not have reached this important milestone without him. Under Brent’s guidance, a dedicated team of individuals has also worked overtime over this past month to identify and register countless DRTV spots and infomercials.   I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to all of you.

Randy Shumpert, thank you for all your help in the beginning of this adventure helping me along the path.

I would also like to thank our technology partner, Enswers, for all of their tireless efforts.  The road has been long with many twists and turns but we have prevailed to reach this important milestone.  There is still much road ahead to travel together and we look forward to a long and prosperous journey ahead!