ClaireaBella Arm Media direct response ads

10 Important DRTV Rules

DRTV is all about getting:
The Creative Message in the Right Ad Break at the Right Time of Day at the Right Media Price
(1) The DRTV Ad must generate an immediate response

It must be able to grab the viewer’s attention right at the start and sustain interest throughout the commercial. Watching TV is a passive activity. When a DRTV ad is on screen it should demand that the audience take an active role. Picture yourself watching a DRTV ad for a new service or product – now ask yourself what would make you pick up the phone and take action? Persuading the passive viewer to make an instantaneous switch to active consumer is tough. You need to know what you’re trying to say, who you want to reach, and what you want them to do about it.

(2) Express a common need or problem that the target market can relate to

Creating a need and doing this using simple language is the key to a successful DRTV ad. For example if a debt ad persuades viewers that one phone call will solve their problems, it is halfway to getting response. Make the product or service appeal to the individual by depicting situations to which the TV viewer can relate.

(3) Provide the DRTV product / service as the solution to the problem

It would be unusual if there were only a couple of reasons for buying a service or product. Identify the “selling point” that will most persuade TV viewers that the DRTV message may change their lives. If there is a USP always use it to full advantage.

(4) A DRTV ad should always be 60sec with a 30sec cutdown

CH4 TV Response Research confirms that the longer the DRTV ad, the higher the response is likely to be. The best length to get your message across is usually 60sec, however always plan to do a 30sec cutdown from the original footage as this shorter length will allow you to test on the more expensive Terrestrial channels.

Advertisers in the USA and on satellite channels in the UK have had considerable success using the 30minute Infomercial length. This longer format is ideal for selling products that require lengthy demonstrations or explanation allowing the advertiser to present a stronger case as to why the viewer should buy the product/service. Several USA companies have ceased using shorter DRTV ads and are now concentrating their marketing efforts on securing low cost satellite TV airtime so that they can broadcast their half hour Infomercials across Europe.

(5) Overcome scepticism or other objections

Always keep the target audience in mind and address them in a way that is relevant to them. This includes a suitable tone of voice and an understanding of the way in which the audience perceive themselves. For example, an ad aimed at teenagers will not attract its target group if it uses a middle aged cast. Conversely it has been proven that in the 50+ sector TV viewers tend to identify with people that are around 15 years younger.

(6) Make the nature of the DRTV ad immediately clear

DRTV combines sight & sound so make sure the selling point of the DRTV ad is credible. If an ad lacks sincerity or conviction, then the viewer will not be convinced either. Any confusing language or captions are fatal where the aim is to achieve maximum response. The style of DRTV ads does not mean that you have to stretch credibility as this only brings the cynic out in the viewer.

(7) Always add an 0800 Freephone number within 5secs of the start

The benefits of using a freephone 0800 number are obvious. Viewers are more inclined to call the number on the DRTV ad because they have nothing to lose. Make sure your DRTV ad follows the tried tested rule of placing the number prominently on the screen within 5secs of the start. The longer the number is on screen the higher the response will be.

(8) Use DRTV to clearly demonstrate the product or service

Many companies already use DRTV to promote products that benefit from visual demonstrations. These include vacuum cleaners, kitchen equipment, exercise machines, even colour contact lenses. When promoting a product or even a service don’t leave anything to the viewers imagination – demonstrate the benefits clearly.

(9) Use compelling captions to support the dialogue

Don’t drown the call to action or the audible repeating of the 0800 number with loud music or sound effects. Also, always use legible and persuasive captions that match the dialogue exactly. For a DRTV ad especially, the soundtrack and captions should enhance the main aim of the ad, which is to persuade people to call, not entertain them.

(10) Finally, don’t forget to ask the DRTV viewer to call…!

The End Frame containing the all-important call-to-action captions should never be less than 10secs on screen.

DRTV viewers need to be reminded to write the number or the URL down even if these have been up in the main body of the DRTV ad for much longer. Also, if possible always try to offer something for FREE (free call – free information pack – free gift – free bonus – saves you money). Something extra that encourages viewers to make the call now!

Now let’s talk about what we can do for you!
Call Digby Orsmond or Shane Murphy on +44 (0)20 7224 3040
or email