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Top Four Direct-Response Tactics for Cross-Screen Measurement

by Cordie DePascale
August 21, 2017

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” – John Wanamaker.

Marketers frequently reference Wannamaker when it comes to their all-too-familiar struggle with advertising dollars, especially when executing cross-channel campaigns. After all, 61% of marketing decision-makers use cross-channel measurement to directly inform their actions, and 35% of CMOs claim they are not currently using robust measurement techniques (eMarketer.)

To overcome this, marketers can apply four principles of direct-response to improve their understanding of which half of investment is performing. And, this may not be as complicated as previously thought.


Decades ago Alvin Eicoff, one of the most prominent founders of direct-response, recognized that the best solution for measuring ad effectiveness is to simply collect consumer response. That view is maintained by modern marketers - a Fall 2016 eMarketer report found that “activity based metrics” were the top metrics reported to CMOs.

An example of this is adding a simple mechanism, like a toll-free phone number, to any short-form (80, 60, or 30-second) commercial to make it easy for consumers to purchase their Ginsu knives. But once a prospective customer calls-in, salespeople can engage them with a carefully calibrated script and questions to collect a wealth of consumer response information that for a marketer, could rival any data bought from the biggest names in syndicated research and measurement.

Product companies, marketers, and direct-response agencies leverage this mission-critical data to optimize and refine their campaigns. Whether to adjust spend within a network, station, or across digital publishers, the goal is always to increase return on ad spend (ROAS). And in its simplest form, marketers can determine ROAS just by the presence or absence of consumer response.


But that’s not all… direct-response marketers can elevate their performance data by layering customer responses with trusted syndicated research.  By sourcing more data, agencies are able to tell a more robust and compelling ROAS story, with the added benefit of appealing to advertisers who prefer syndicated data for proof of audience delivery.

This hybrid approach can be seen in the direct-response campaigns of major consumer brands, like Ford’s Lincoln infomercials, and Proctor and Gamble’s use of source coding and response tracking for products like Swiffer™.


With not a penny to waste these days, all marketers are concerned with viewability and conversion rates. Historically, these metrics were tracked with separate tools - TV delivery with Teletrax and Kantar’s Broadcast Verification Services, digital with comScore, MOAT, DoubleVerify, and Integral Ad Science, and attribution through telemarketing centers’ call logs and consumer purchase data companies like Experian and Acxiom.

Many agencies are taking significant action around this, including GroupM who recently announced new viewability standards backed by clients, including Unilever, Campbell Soup, Shell, Subway and Volvo, which will require 100% of an ad be in-view for at least one-second.


Looking forward, we’re increasingly seeing a convergence of traditional direct-response, first-party data, and syndicated research tools, to the effect of advancing advertising science. Early leaders in this space, like Videology, VideoAmp, 4C Insights, and media management software platforms (like Mediaocean,) are helping TV and digital learn from each other’s best practices. As this continues, TV will gradually improve its immediacy and attribution while digital will recover from its reputation for audience fraud.

Additionally, TV and digital convergence will force measurement standardization and uniformity, resulting in more holistic and actionable campaign insight.

What we can expect in the future of media is akin to the 1980’s Reese’s ad that taught viewers that chocolate and peanut butter, while good by themselves, “taste great together.” Even if the two sides don’t come together as easily as in the Reese’s ad—colliding on the street, we do know clearly that the result will be the same—great together, and better measured.