Marketing Secret to Driving Billions in Sales

By Matt Greenfield, President of Cannella Media

On Air sign lit up

Remember when digital first came about as a viable advertising channel?  Your media plans had line items for each traditional channel (TV, Radio, Local & National Print, OOH, etc.) and only a single line item for digital.  Then it became two-line items: digital search and digital display.  A couple of years later, you likely had a diversified digital portfolio, with separate line items for SEM, SEO, display, social, video, possibly native, and others, plus a mobile implementation component for each of them.  Now, each of those digital channels has its own diversified portfolio.


Display isn’t just display.  You might be buying publisher-direct premium inventory for awareness, a programmatic prospecting buy possibly utilizing a PMP, and a separate retargeting buy.  Each line item likely has multiple creative units, sizes, and executions, with different messaging and performance metrics (KPIs).


How about your paid social strategy?  Facebook and Instagram awareness ads?  TikTok?  Prospecting?  Retargeting?  Different targeting with bespoke creative ad units (static, dynamic, various video lengths) and varying KPIs for each?


Your YouTube strategy?  Awareness ads in premium inventory, YouTube for action to drive response, and retargeting?  Sequential creative units of varying lengths with different CTAs for each strategy?


Your SEM strategy?  Brand SEM, category, or non-brand, retargeting/RLSA, unique ad copy, and linking strategies to correlate with each line item?


Your CTV strategy?


Your mobile implementation investments for every strategy above?


You get the idea.


Each digital channel, or sub-channel, now has multiple budget line items and distinct strategies to capitalize on the channel’s strengths.  Similarly, each deserves the investments you make in time and resources dedicated to targeting, creative development, execution, optimization, and reporting, to align with your diverse marketing objectives.


And rightfully so.  You’re following best practices.  This approach comes with a labyrinth of data, targeting, frequency management, attribution, and customer journey mapping forensic opportunities.  You’re also probably investing in MarTech to help you navigate through all of it.


After connecting with your consumers in a meaningful way to drive awareness, consideration, intent, etc., the general goal is to increase purchases of your products/services as cost-efficiently as possible.


You may have invested in some of the strategies above to better position your business for the next decade and beyond.  Ultimately, you’re probably being judged and compensated for increasing your YoY comp sales.


So, here’s a thought: What if Linear TV is just like all of your digital channels?  What if it merits a distinct approach to capitalize on its strengths for awareness, response, and retargeting?  What if you’re only using it for awareness?  Perhaps your digital agency showed you how to see who’s viewing your ads and engaging with your business?  Or they’ve helped you check the retargeting box nicely.  Maybe you’re utilizing it for awareness and retargeting.  Have you checked the linear response box, though?


Yes, I’m referring to direct response linear television, DRTV – that thing you’ve probably heard about other marketers doing but is not for your brand.


Have you been led to believe it’s an either/or scenario?


Either: create an elegant brand, drive awareness through premium positions, know precisely where and when your spots will air, and have guaranteed exposure (ratings/impressions) for each investment…


Or: denigrate your brand with shlocky creative, riddled with phone numbers and ‘call now’ messages, airing in whatever inventory is leftover, likely overnight hours adjacent to who knows what?


Remember back in those early years of digital display, when you had to choose between placing your banners in premium placements on, or you could play internet roulette and become the next low-brow brand like Punch the Monkey?  Then…things evolved, and you realized it wasn’t either/or, but that best practices actually dictated that you do both?  Remember when that ‘who knows where my ad is airing?’ inventory didn’t paint you into a box that forced you to downgrade the quality of your creative?  Instead, it enabled you to migrate consumers through their purchase journey through the use of creative best practices like including pricing, requesting an action, and more.


Your digital investment strategy went from one line item to many.  Your mentality shifted from either this or that to this and that.  You diversified your digital display portfolio.


It’s time for your linear TV strategy to do the same.

Welcome to DRTV

Sure, it might be difficult to convince you that a DR strategy can help maintain or elevate a brand position, even though DR strategies have built successful everyday brands like Proactiv and Shark Ninja. I’d encourage you to keep an open mind. The remnant digital display ‘Punch the Monkey’ inventory was just that: inventory, a blank canvas. That is until brands like Starwood, Lexus, Nordstrom, Nike, and countless others started turning it into a commerce-driving component of their marketing strategies. Effective DRTV marketers navigate through the DR marketplace in the same manner.

How To Do Both

To be clear, I’m not solely referring to the opportunistic DR approach where you secure the same :30’s and :15’s you’re currently buying, just at a lower price.  A  hybrid strategy ‘buckets’ your networks into three categories:

  • Premium Must-Have Properties – high demand, limited inventory: potentially purchased in the upfront
  • Mid-Tier Properties – specific content you want your brand to be adjacent to, but probably have some lookalike alternatives if they are sold out: Purchase in the scatter marketplace
  • Lower Priority Properties – lower demand, willing to ‘play the market’: Purchase in the DR Marketplace


In addition to the hybrid buying strategy referenced above, there is an entire linear DRTV marketplace selling short-form :60’s, :120’s, mid-form (three, four & five minutes), and long-form infomercials (or 28:30s).


Despite everything I have shared, I can empathize with why it may still be easy for you to stay away from this strategy.  You may have reasons why not to explore DRTV:

  • Unsure of how measurements work when I don’t know where my spots are airing and without impression levels or ratings data?
  • Not understanding frequency capping.
  • Questioning how brand safety works?
  • Trying to understand how this fits into DMP, CDP, MTA, MMM, or UMIA?


You’re not the first to ask these questions, but DRTV experts have figured out how to navigate these waters while still maximizing their spends and will help you throughout this process.


You’re probably also thinking: Why would I invest more than I already am in this channel when everything I read in the trades highlights the double-digit reductions in eyeballs migrating away from TV?


Linear TV is still a multi-billion-dollar marketplace that merits your investing in all aspects of it today.


What if you are in the automotive business today?  You’re probably working on your Electric Vehicle (EV) strategy.  But you’re ALSO investing resources against selling gas or hybrid vehicles, actively pushing all of your distribution channels to attract any of today’s hundreds of millions of consumers.  Are you projecting downward performance against non-EV and upward performance for EV?  Yes, of course.  But BOTH strategies can be profitable.  Not either/or, but both.  Looking at the entire market holistically drives more volume today while securing the position for tomorrow.


Your media agency may be telling you to avoid DR, and they are the experts, right?   Your creative agency could also tell you DR will ruin your brand.  Remember, years ago, when your traditional agency said they knew enough about digital and could handle it for you?  And then you met with digital agencies and realized how much more informed your investment decisions could be?

They showed you the benefits of getting your brand message out in the first three seconds vs. the reveal at the end, of using vertical video, and so much more! Then, your AOR traditional agency’s parent holding company acquired some digital and social agencies to make sure they could deliver on all of your evolving, more sophisticated, nuanced needs.


Similarly, a DRTV specialist is going to help inform your investment decisions with the granular nuance needed to maximize your diversified linear TV strategy.


Direct Response inventory is what we make of it.  It’s measurable, accountable, and ultimately predictable investment spending.  It’s a blank canvas waiting to tell another side of the same story you’re already telling.


Let me challenge you with some questions about why to consider layering on a DRTV strategy to your existing TV strategy from the creative perspective:


Can you think of a reason why your premium travel brand might want to showcase a few of your properties over the course of five minutes, or even a half-hour, then invite these newly informed prospects to visit via an exclusive offer?


Can you think of a reason why you’d want your current customers to share incredible experiences with your brand, then invite others to do the same?  Or why you’d like a three, five, or even 30-minute platform to bundle some of your impressive social media videos into a collage of compelling, authentic, brand-enriching content?


Can you think of a reason why you might want more than 30 seconds to tell the country how your new electric vehicle is improving lives?


Can you think of a reason why you might want to air five minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from your upcoming film, connecting with a quadrant that is likely to be much more comfortable engaging with your brand via linear TV; the same audience(s) you’re currently investing a large percentage of your annual budget to reach via your upfront TV strategy, albeit with shorter ad units?


Can you think of a reason for your ‘challenger’ brand to have a bigger platform to tell your story?  Maybe you’re struggling to compete from a traditional share-of-voice perspective in the world of high-volume quantitative brand conversations?  Perhaps you could pursue in-depth higher-quality conversations that lead to cost-efficient conversions?  Or maybe one of your competitors is already capitalizing on this strategy, stealing share from you?


It is time to diversify your linear Tv portfolio.