What Is DRTV?

Aug 25, 2022 / Industry Insights / FOTW

TV advertising has changed rather drastically over the last decade as it continues to fight to maintain its dominance in the marketing world. Regardless of what some may believe, TV ads are still as powerful as ever, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. With TV advertising revenue hitting £5.46 billion in 2021 and TV accounting for 95 per cent of actively viewed advertising in the UK, it’s really hard to see it being otherwise.

Although television advertising has gone through leaps and bounds in terms of advancement, there are still certain aspects of TV ads that remain to this day. One such aspect is “direct response advertising”, more commonly referred to as “direct response TV” or simply DRTV. But what is DRTV, exactly, and why should you consider it? Let’s take a closer look at what the fuss is about.

What Does DRTV Mean?

Direct response TV is a common TV advertising term that relates to the way of getting a TV ad’s audience to take direct action after viewing the commercial. It’s an advertising method that has been used for decades, from getting audience members to call a toll-free number or to add a specific product to the trolley during the next weekly shop. Nowadays, however, call-to-actions (CTA) also include making an online purchase or visiting a website.

Often, DRTV advertising will have a phone number or webpage listed at the end of it that can be visited in order for audience members to get more information on a specific product or service. It’s a brilliant way to drive up short-to-medium term returns on investment (ROI), especially when done correctly to advertise a new product or to announce a special sale.

However, that’s not where it ends. These days, DRTV can be also used in a number of ways to help build a company’s brand awareness and profile in the long term. Direct response TV is more than just a medium for informing potential customers about a new product or service – it can also be used to reinforce brand awareness by advertisers trying to build their own business through specific CTAs. 

DRTV and Direct Response Advertising

These two terms mean the same thing and could be used interchangeably. General TV advertising campaigns normally seek to build brand awareness, and while that is definitely possible with DRTV, that’s not its main focus. Direct response advertising is a performance-based type of TV advertising that seeks to generate immediate responses from the audience.

Traditionally, there are two types of direct response TV. One kind is something that most of us are pretty used to – commercial-length DRTV. These are the typical 30-second ads but with the sole intention of driving viewers towards taking action by compelling them to “Call now” or “Visit our website”. The other is program-length advertising. Think infomercials – those 30- to 60-minute long TV programmes that are focused on selling the product directly through its features.

Thanks to modern technologies, it has also become a lot easier to collect data from those TV advertising campaigns and at a much faster rate than before. With DRTV campaigns, success is measured by the audience response rate rather than the total reach. Although it can be used to drive brand awareness, these types of ads look for measurable results, hence why having a CTA is a key part of a great direct response TV ads. A DRTV ad may gain hundreds of thousands of views, but if the viewership numbers don’t have a fairly significant percentage of purchases or clicks – depending on the CTA – then the DRTV campaign was unsuccessful.

In recent years, there’s a delicate balance that needs to be made when running a direct response TV advertising campaign. Audiences shouldn’t be told directly to buy or do something, they need to be drawn into a story; get excited about it. This is where one of the biggest changes in TV advertising can be seen – it’s all about the story. A great story can make viewers fall in love with a product, brand, or even a life choice, and that is the most effective tool you need to wield when making a successful direct response TV advert. However, a marketing strategy that consists of both DRTV (Short-medium term ROI) and Brand building (Long term, less sales and more emotional campaigns) should both be considered for maximum results. This can also be achieved by a mix of the two, BRTV (brand Response TV) if your budgets aren’t able to stretch across both, you can consider this route.

Although DRTV has been around for a number of years, it’s only recently that companies have started to take advantage of all the benefits it can bring. It’s an extremely efficient way of advertising because you have the ability to test different approaches, rather than simply throwing a large amount of money into TV adverts that may not work. It all comes down to execution since there is only so much one can say within a 30-second timeframe and especially if they’re trying to convince someone to take action.

Why You Should Consider DRTV Advertising

Although DRTV campaigns are not as widespread as they used to be, they should still be an integral part of any TV advertising budget. If the goal of your next TV advertising campaign is to quickly generate donations, leads, sales or traffic, then you should definitely consider direct response TV. Partnering with a talented TV ad agency will ensure that your next DRTV campaign is a high-quality one – which really makes all the difference when it comes to this style of TV advertising.

From obtaining instant results to enjoying an increased ROI, there is a long list of benefits that direct response TV can bring to a company. And all of them are obtainable, so long as you do things right. Here is a look at some of the biggest advantages of DRTV advertising:

1. Get Instant Results

Direct response advertising campaigns are reported to be 20 times more effective in generating leads and sales than regular TV advertising campaigns. And that’s because DRTV ads can lead viewers directly to a designated landing page where they can buy a product or service immediately. This instant lead generation and easy tracking is the bread and butter of a DRTV campaign, so if you’re looking to hit a goal at a faster rate, then this is the way to do it.

A well-designed commercial has the potential of encapsulating a large audience and generating hundreds of leads per broadcast. And with studies reporting that 90% of audience members will take action right after seeing a DRTV ad once or twice, this means that a DRTV campaign can help you boost your sales and drive more traffic to your website. It also has the capability of showing potential customers a great marketing experience which is always great for a company’s overall branding!

2. Increase ROI

The ability to increase a company’s ROI is another reason DRTV campaigns are worth considering. DRTV adverts tend to air during a large portion of a channel’s daypart (from 9 AM to 5 PM), which lowers broadcast costs by as little as 60% since daytime TV tends to carry a lower ad slot price tag. However, they’re just as effective even when placed during other dayparts.

With lower upfront costs and the ability for a well-tailored DRTV ad to drive action, the returns from running a DRTV campaign are astounding. Not only do direct response TV ads generate quicker results compared to general advertising, but they will also create great ROI in both the short- and long-term. Once those viewers take action and make a purchase, you will know for certain your campaign did its job.

3. Reduce Waste

On top of that, since gathering data during DRTV campaigns is much simpler, it is much easier to tweak the advert to be able to reach its maximum potential. Working with an experienced TV ad agency that understands the ins and outs of how a good DRTV ad campaign works will ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Therefore, the waste rate can be much lower with direct response TV campaigns. An expert DRTV agency will know how to generate both short-term action and long-term brand loyalty, whether it’s by creating reusable components or by analysing short- and long-term trends to find a better approach. And because of a more streamlined approach to creating your commercial message, you’ll also have less waste when it comes to creating the campaign itself.

4. Obtain Measurable Results

It might have been challenging to measure the efficacy of individual TV commercials and keep track of their effectiveness. But, with DRTV, this is no longer the case. The CTAs attached to direct response TV adverts allow campaigns to be much more trackable than before, especially when attaching specific phone numbers or website URLs to those commercials alone.

Programmatic advertising is on the rise, and pioneer broadcasters like Sky, with their AdSmart platform, are paving the way for TV to offer the similar kinds of targeted and measurable advertising as those that you may find on the web. When you couple this with the innovative possibilities of a television commercial, you have a winning combination that will allow you to completely track outcomes to decide what route has been effective.

5. Foster a Direct Relationship with Customers

DRTV campaigns have the unique feature of being able to foster relationships with a company’s customer base at a closer level compared to general advertisements. Since the most effective DRTV ad utilises storytelling to elicit emotional responses from its viewer, the connection is made when the audience follows through with the related CTA.

This type of relationship-based advertising is growing in popularity because it offers a far better return on investment (ROI) compared to ordinary TV adverts. This is a benefit that was previously associated with direct response TV and links it back to the original point. Long-term advantages will also accrue to the brand if it is able to benefit consumers emotionally through advertising, particularly in the manner in which DRTV is able to do so.

Examples of DRTV Advertising

The most successful direct response TV ad campaigns take advantage of the commercials’ interactive nature and make their viewers want to take action via a call-to-action on the screen. Regardless of what your business model is, there are a number of ways to utilise the DRTV format for your next marketing campaign.

So, what does a DRTV ad look like? How do you get started on making one? Here are a few examples of direct response TV campaigns for you to create a DRTV ad to gain those great benefits we mentioned in the previous section:


Make a purchase

DRTV campaigns have proven to be a great tool to drive short-term sales, especially when a company is holding a special promotion. 

For as long as direct response advertising has existed, it has been used to entice customers to buy specific products. In recent years, thanks to great advancements in technology, it is now easier than ever to utilise DRTV to get viewers to make purchases since they can now easily do so with a click of a button.


Donate to charity

One common example of a DRTV campaign is running a charity drive. Although charity ads are broadcasted year-long, there is a noticeable increase in them during festive periods. Charities love to harness the potential of direct response TV in order to boost donations and the great TV advertising agencies that work with them know the power of a heartwarming story – especially one attached to a holiday like Christmas.

There have been many success stories of charities such as Save the Children and Macmillan Cancer Support that have successfully wielded DRTV advertising to engage thousands of people to support their respective causes. If you’re a part of a charity organisation, consider utilising direct response TV alongside your other fundraising campaigns to maximise donations.

Download an app

Nowadays, there are millions of smartphone applications available to download which makes  it harder for new ones to stand out. However, there is one way to get people to notice your new app – by creating a great TV commercial to promote it.

If your business has its own mobile app, direct response TV is a powerful tool to use to broadcast its existence and boost app downloads. When attached to a powerful or impactful story, viewers could be compelled to download the app that was
advertised alongside it.


Visit a website

Whether you have a service to sell or a great promotion to push, getting viewers to visit a website is one example of a direct response TV ad. Since a majority of television viewers tend to have a secondary, internet-enabled device near them while watching TV, multiscreen campaigns have started to become a trend in TV advertising. One way that direct response TV adverts can be used to ride this wave is to attach a website for audience members to visit as the ad’s CTA.

Companies seeking to boost brand awareness could also utilise this method of DRTV advertising. By compelling viewers to visit your company’s website, it can lead to them learning more about the company and an overall positive experience from ad viewing to visiting the website could also lead to a more positive brand outlook.

Call a number

Regardless of whether you’re a small or large business, you can always utilise direct response TV ads to boost sales. DRTV is multitudes more effective, especially if your company is having a special promotion. Giving customers an action to perform after promoting a special sale has been shown to increase the likelihood of them taking up the discount, especially new customers.

However, this type of DRTV isn’t only for boosting sales. Adding a number onto the screen as a CTA is also useful to get viewers to request for a quotation – if you’re an insurance company, for example – or to raise awareness about a specific phone-related service. The latter of which sometimes come with its own jingle to help you remember the number!


Direct response TV advertising is a type of TV ad that’s a powerful marketing tool that can help you reach your goals more quickly, at a fraction of the regular TV advertising cost. There are many short-term benefits to creating DRTV advertisements as well as certain long-term advantages to a company’s overall branding if done correctly. But to get the most out of it, you should definitely consider partnering with a knowledgable DRTV advertising agency that not only knows their stuff but knows how to create the most effective DRTV ad to meet the needs of your next campaign.

Do you want to know more about how we can help with your TV advertising? If so, give us a call on 01582 881144, drop us a line at hello@falloffthewall.com or through our web form on our Contact Page. We’d love to chat!