Direct Mail Beats TV Spots, Among the Listeners Who Matter!
February 11, 2013
Three weeks ago, we showed you alarming new data, from our just-completed national study, about the prevalence of TV commercial-skipping among the vast majority of radio listeners.Â That piece is a must-read for any executive considering using TV in 2013.
Last week, we focused on commercial E-Mails.Â First, we looked at how many listeners, within the only population that matters, the paid-Radio-research population, actually read their emails.Â We then compared those numbers to how many actually sit through TV spots.Â And now, this week, we will conduct the same analysis for traditional direct mail.Â For the first time, we can compare these behaviors on one level playing field, and among the right population.Â The results, to say the least, are eye-opening.Â And will change the way you make decisions about ad campaigns.
A Four-Step Plan for Evaluating TV vs.Â Direct Mail
The bottom line is that, with so few viewers actually sitting through spots, your TV campaign is in fact delivering you only a fraction of the points or impressions you think you are making.Â So, if you are considering a TV buy in 2013, we suggest a three-step recalculation, employing re-adjusted, realistic, estimates of actual viewers.
(1) General-market estimates of who watches TV spots or reads direct mail are not what you want to look at.Â Even when they aren’t obviously inflated pro-TV propaganda, those estimates will still be measuring the wrong population.Â Instead, be sure you are using data about the only listeners who actually matter to our success:Â Listeners who are willing to be paid research subjects for Radio.Â And make sure to use data that can compare the effectiveness of alternate media on the same population.Â The findings we are presenting below meet that test.Â They are taken from our just-completed 2013 national study, where 100% of the sample were radio listeners and 100% said yes to paid radio research.Â
(2) What is the actual number of points you are buying?Â How much are you actually paying per point?
(3) After that adjustment, will your TV budget actually be large enough to make a significant impact?Â Does it yield the kind of numbers for reach/frequency/tonnage that a radio spot needs on TV, to have a chance to break through and succeed?Â Â
(4) After that adjustment, re-evaluate the costs/benefits for each of your potential media choices, on one single level playing field.Â Compare them on bang per buck only after recalculating based on how many messages are actually consumed by your target, not on how many you send.Â Accept the obvious reality that every medium has significant spillage.Â The number of people you try to send a message to will always be far greater than those who actually receive the message.Â We have trained ourselves to go through a recalculation exercise for certain media, but not for others.Â For example, we have long understood that “audience counts” for traditional direct mail are catch-alls that include those recipients who, without reading it, simply pitch the mailer.Â So we tend to mentally re-estimate the “actual” impressions of a direct-marketing campaign, based on statistics we have heard somewhere that some x percentage of consumers, in the general market, reads their junk mail.Â Yet we have not traditionally subjected to applied the equivalent “knock em down to size” scrutiny to TV audience counts.Â Now, for the first time, using NuVoodoo’s new apples-to-apples national data, you have the tools to do exactly that.Â
4 in 9 Paid-Research Listeners Usually Read Direct Mail
NuVoodoo has just completed our latest national media study.Â The sample is composed entirely of radio listeners, 18-54, who also had to be willing to sell their listening data for money.Â We asked them to tell us, using a 1 (none of the time) to 7 (all of the time) scale, how often they actually read their incoming direct mail.Â
You might expect that a large chunk of the population would pitch all direct mail automatically into the trash.Â Not among this particular kind of listener, who wants to be researched and wants money.Â Only 15% are automatic pitchers.Â The key numberÂ to learn and use is:Â What percentage of folks do in fact typically (i.e.Â at least half the time, a 4-7 on our scale) read their direct mail?Â As you can see from the above chart, that adds up to 44%.Â That is, among the only radio population that counts, four in nine is likely actually to read their direct mail pieces.Â And there’s yet an additional 41%, who will read fewer than half, but some, direct mail pieces.Â Presumably those pieces that have effectively caught their eye with the art, the copy, the prize incentive.Â Like the ones in a well-crafted radio direct mail campaign.
Direct Mail Readership Robust Among Women 18-54, Men 25-54
Among the particular paid-radio-research population, within every demo cell but the infamous Men 18-24, at least 40% are usual (half the time or more) direct mail readers.Â Among Women 35-54, more than 50% are usual direct mail readers.Â Whatever the direct-mail-readership numbers may be among the population as a whole, those numbers are irrelevant for Radio.Â Thanks to Arbitron, we are not judged by the population as a whole.Â But by an atypical sub-population.Â That likes to read their mailers.
Women (and Men 35+):Â Direct Mail Reaches More Than TV!
The numbers above are impressive by themselves.Â Now see how they line up againstÂ TV in efficiency of actual delivery.
One picture.Â One pretty clear finding.Â Across all female cells, and Men 35+, more research-friendly radio listeners actually read their direct mail than actually sit through TV spots.Â
Longest-TSL Listeners Read Direct Mail Even More
As we saw last week with Email, traditional direct mail reaches long-TSL listeners even more effectively than other listeners.Â As this chart shows, about half of those who listen two hours a day or more are usual direct-mail readers.Â Yielding, of course, an even bigger bang for your direct marketing buck.
What this means to you
The data we presented last week, about Email, and this week, about Direct Mail, go hand in hand.Â Taken together, they tell us about the relative value of direct marketing, compared to TV in the DVR age, to attract the kind of listener who is likely to be Arbitron-cooperative.Â These data are powerful.Â Use them.Â Or corroborate them for your own market for very little trouble.Â And then use those data.Â And change the future.Â To underline our take-aways from last week’s piece:
Station advertising budgets, when they exist at all, are tighter than ever.Â We have to do more with less.Â At the same time, TV is delivering less and less and charging more.Â Meanwhile, at least among the only people who matter to radio, direct mail pieces actually beat TV spots for efficiency of delivery.Â We strongly suggest that, when considering your media options, you use these data to guide you to the most efficient allocation of your resources.Â And the best return on your investment.
The data we are reporting were collected from dozens and dozens of major and medium markets, and are relatively consistent across regions of the country.Â We expect that your market is no different.Â But we certainly understand that these data may seem surprising to you, that you may be skeptical about their validity in your market, and that you may not want to base your media-budget decisions on them.Â Or want to have to defend those media decisions up the food chain based on somebody else’s national data.Â
If that is the case, your first action step should be to talk to your research or direct marketing partner about doing a simple, quick, local study in your market.Â A study that can corroborate these findings and give you data to make a confident and ratings-impactful decision.Â A study like that, done correctly by the right provider, should cost you only a small fraction of your ad budget.Â Maybe less than the cost of one (supposedly-good) placement of a TV spot.Â And a lot less than the cost of producing a good one.
We will zero in on that subset, among our research-friendly listeners, who are most likely to agree to be Carriers for the Arbitron Pocket Spy Device.Â The PPM Prospects.Â Do their media habits differ from those of other listeners?Â What can we learn about these all-important consumers that will help us target them with our ad campaigns?