The continuing opportunity in direct response television


by Janet Tonner, president, DDTV

Way back in April, I’d argued there was an opportunity in direct response television.  Increased viewership, decreased prices, and improving results combined to make it an excellent opportunity to attract new sustaining donors and improve brand visibility.

But even I thought the DRTV boom would have waned a bit by now.  Instead, it continued throughout 2020.  Here are three organizations that have been doing DRTV since before 2019 (who will remain nameless) and their change in results from Jan-Nov 2019 to Jan-Nov 2020 (we are crunching December data):

Change in spendChange in revenueChange in sustainer #sChange in net cost to acquire
Organization 1+85%+110%+158%-42%
Organization 2+24%+49%+92%-40%
Organization 3+66%+70%+146%-41%
Total+34%+60%+106%-41%

Each of them invested significantly more in 2020, which could lead to more marginal prospects this year.  And yet each one had their cost to acquire drop 40-42%.

This isn’t because we are geniuses at creating and placing DRTV spots.  (OK, it’s not just because we are DRTV geniuses.)

It’s not just because prices fell, because many ad rates have come close to their historical norms.

And it’s not just because people are trapped at home anymore, although that doesn’t hurt.

We are seeing people who want to help.  If a person couldn’t find a need in 2020, perhaps they just aren’t cut out for philanthropy.  And as people watch more TV than usual (although less than at the beginning of the pandemic), they see their outlet on their screen.

It’s unclear how long this phenomenon will last.  But it is clear that isn’t over — the opportunity is still there for those willing to make the investment.

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