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The use of DRTV has rocketed, with a quarter of all TV ads now carrying a response mechanism

During the past four years there has been a surge in the amount of advertising carrying a response device. It now represents about a quarter of all TV advertising. Certain times of the day, particularly the afternoon, see the level rise to nearer 33 per cent. Industry estimates suggest that by the end of 1998 about half of all TV advertising will be responsive.

This change reflects the US experience, where half of all TV ads carry a response mechanism, rising to 80 per cent at specific times of the day.

There are several reasons for this. One is the steady increase of minuteage through daytime and night-time TV and the continued expansion of cable and satellite. Satellite penetration is about 22 per cent and should reach 30 per cent by the end of 1996.

A second reason is the public’s willingness to use the telephone, with continued use and acceptance of freephone number 0800.

Programmes such as Noel’s House Party can generate up to 100,000 calls in an hour. Interactive is also being tested this year and will further enhance the relationship between the small screen, the advertiser and the viewer.

About 80 per cent of calls are recorded within five minutes of transmission. Automated-response mechanisms can easily handle the volumes generated, even from spots transmitted during peak-time viewing.

Just as important are the advances in production technology. A 60-second DRTV ad can now be produced for just 15,000. Most good DRTV commercials cost less than 40,000 to produce.

DRTV will continue to grow, as more fmcg companies develop personal relationships with their customers and use the medium to build databases.

The market plateaued during 1995, with little suitable airtime availability on either Channel 4 or ITV. However, the launch of Channel 5 in early 1997 and the continued growth and fragmentation of satellite should regenerate the market and sustain a steady growth over the coming years.

John Goodwin is managing director of MediaCom Direct.

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