The explosion of e-commerce has not only changed the way we buy but how we pay. When the pandemic hit and millions of users flooded to online retailers, several already-existing businesses and ideas were thrown into full gear as they gained popularity. Buy Now, Pay Later, or BNPL, is an installment loan utilized by many online retailers today. With Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm, or simply retailers offering their own plan, BNPL allows consumers to make a purchase and receive it immediately while paying for it over time through a series of installments.
Some plans can come with interest and late fees, but some charge neither. Pricing and plan information varies from company to company.
Allowing a consumer to pay over time can dramatically alter the consumer landscape for marketers. It will give those with poor credit or lack of credit card funds an opportunity to purchase impulse products advertised to them. It also gives marketers a chance to close more sales at minimal risk.
Data shows that consumers buy more when they can pay over time. BNPL gives companies a much wider reach and the ability to expand their target audiences further.
A recent survey found that 1 in 5 U.S. consumers used a BNPL service in the 12 months ended Aug. 20, 2021, and only 1 in 6 of them regretted doing so.
While this is a boon for marketers with higher price point items, full disclosure of terms is mandatory. In December 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced an inquiry into BNPL, expressing concern about “debt accumulation, lack of regulation, and data harvesting.” The regulator is concerned that borrowers are accumulating too much debt and that consumers’ personal data could be misused.
Last month, the agency demanded information from a handful of the industry’s most prominent players, including Klarna and Afterpay.
This inquiry notwithstanding, the BNPL option has opened up an excellent opportunity for higher price point items and allows credit-challenged consumers to have an equal playing field for products that otherwise may have been out of reach.
“Coming out of brand advertising, I was mesmerized by achieving instant sales when I started doing infomercials over 20 years ago. Now with some of the new social platforms, I am even more excited by the metrics, measurements, and immediacy in creating leads and sales. And that is why I believe that these digital platforms are transforming to become the new infomercial, especially for Gen Z and Millennials, which has been a tougher market to reach on traditional TV.” Ava Seavey, Avalanche
When it comes to creating compelling ads that inspire immediate consumer response, sometimes tried and true methods reveal themselves, amongst new trends and technologies, to be the real champions in selling. As plethoras of new platforms, products, brands, and trends pave the way for changes in the effectiveness of digital ad types, new research has shown that aspects of the traditional infomercial are working their way into social media ads, and they’re working!
With apps like TikTok and Instagram that feature predominantly visual content, consumers are turning to spokesperson videos, product demos, influencer content-creation, unboxing, and social proof videos to inform their buying decisions. Out of the top seven social media advertising formats, these six are all classified as Infomercial formats. What does this tell us?
Consumers want information. Recent studies show that the #1 thing consumers want from online advertising is product info, across all age groups. Many buyers prefer the demonstrative aspect to infomercial-style ads, feeling more comfortable trusting them because they provide adequate information and thus purchase motivation.
It will be interesting for advertisers everywhere to see in what other ways traditional advertising bleeds its way into the new digital age, and sometimes, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Importance of Omni Channel Marketing for DRTV products
The pandemic and its economic impact have entirely changed the way businesses is done. With many consumers and working professionals working remotely and spending so much time online, it’s clear how important digital channels are becoming and how critical it is for marketers to reach consumers where the eyeballs are.
For DRTV, Direct-Response, Infomercial, and Direct-to-Consumer Marketers, this change proves just as meaningful. It is vital to be mindful of what happens within each platform and utilize as many channels as possible. By using omnichannel marketing and tracking ads, you can successfully create high-converting campaigns, and all can work with the halo effect of reinforcing ads seen on other platforms.
DRTV can bring you excellent results when used as part of an omnichannel strategy and can be among the highest converting platform.
Creating Ads on Google or Bing that build on your DRTV ads can yield great results and help conversion rates. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can yield extremely high results as well, especially when geo targeted. Both lead generation and product specific ads can work well on these platforms.
When considering DRTV, be sure to maximize your results by having all digital tactics in place.
Direct-to-consumer, social media, and DRTV marketers and brands have had their share of challenges driving consumers to purchase, either through a web site or phone number. But with the events of the pandemic, consumers changed their online shopping habits and helped push a massive shift occurring over the past decade. The insight into how the retail experience is different today in 2021 can be expressed in one word: Amazon.
Various studies have demonstrated very strong consumer trust in Amazon. According to a FeedAdvisor study, 89% of consumers are more likely to buy products from Amazon than other e-commerce sites. 78% say that they trust big corporations such as Amazon or Walmart.com over other online retailers.
Customers often look to Amazon first when it comes to quickly purchasing name brand products, as well as unknown brands. They are putting less and less trust into smaller DTC websites and brands, which is why it is critical to also sell on Amazon in today’s world.
Amazon has undergone various investigations into fake products and says it blocked over 10 billion counterfeit listings in 2020. Despite this, Amazon continues to soar in subscriber numbers, with over 150 billion Prime members, and takes its place as #1 in the U.S. e-commerce market with net sales of $386 billion in 2020, followed by Walmart.com.
But direct response, infomercial, social media, digital, and DRTV marketers should not despair, as all media purchases can also drive supplemental Amazon sales in addition to sales on their brand sites and at the call centers. Thus, attribution of Amazon sales should be included when analyzing and reporting on revenue from media spend.
It is becoming increasingly common for companies to have sustainable elements within either their products or services. Sustainability is something that people are considering more and more critical, so it benefits a company to explain and share how they are saving energy, recycling materials, and engaging in green marketing in general. Green marketing refers to advertising products or practices that promote sustainability.
Sustainability is fundamental to younger people looking to make a change by giving money to companies with their interests in mind. Companies need to share this information in a format that will resonate with young people, such as social media.
There are some key elements to creatively advertise how your company or product promotes sustainability to the public.
First, it is always important to understand the audience. According to a Fast Company survey from 2019, 40% of millennials have picked one job over another because of the companies’ dedication to sustainability. Millennials value companies that value sustainability. Once you understand your audience and how to use green marketing, you can begin to explore effective ways to reach them.
In cases where a company is trying to target a younger audience, social media ads specifically should be used more than something like direct response television (DRTV) ads just because of the levels of engagement of each age group. If a company has created an infomercial or something similar, they can post clips of it to social media for more direct advertising to younger audiences.
Second, the explanation should be clear and specific with background information about how the research was gathered. Companies should be environmentally savvy and able to explain precisely how their products or practices go about achieving what they say they are. Nestle did this exceptionally well in this area when they announced a press release in early 2020 that explained how they would begin using recycled plastic for their packaging. Their thorough description of this process gained a lot of attention, and they received about ninety-thousand direct responses to this announcement, according to ListenFirstMedia.com.
Third, it is helpful for companies to explain their plans for achieving a more sustainable way of working in the future so that audiences can understand its goals even if they haven’t quite reached them yet. Conveying this type of information over social media is effective because it serves as direct-to-consumer advertising where people feel directly addressed and, therefore, more engaged with what the company is saying.
As advertisers and marketers in DRTV and E-Commerce, we are in the business of speaking directly to people who may not think like us. We make efforts to understand their wants and needs as we pursue direct to consumer advertising.
Today, there’s a growing demand for brands to speak up on societal issues, whether sustainability, racism, or gender equality. But there’s caution on the political side due to the scale of possible negative repercussions. Leaning towards one way or another can make or break a company’s optics. Advertisers have a tough job of navigating the deeply divided political, social, and ideological landscape of the United States. Now more than ever, it’s a challenge to promote products and services to a diverse group of consumers in the TV and digital landscape.
One possible route to take is creating variations in advertising, thus speaking separately to each group. But this is not always the most pragmatic approach. So what are advertisers supposed to do when faced with the tension between trying to align with various causes and navigating a divided –and often hostile– public?
The answer to this question remains unclear, but the best way brands can advocate for causes they stand behind without causing a divide amongst their audience is by sending a message of unity and positivity. Americans are so divided from of all the negative messaging they’re exposed to. If you use positive messaging in advertisements and seek ways to bring people together, regardless of their beliefs, the chance for unified messaging and positive customer response remains strong.
How Have Spending Habits Changed Since the Pandemic?
COVID-19 has changed how we live socially, professionally, and financially. Because of economic setbacks and widespread job loss, some people have less spending money, and others have saved due to receiving stimulus funds. The types of products that gained and lost popularity during this period can provide insight into how people are spending their time and how their priorities have changed.
Online, digital and DRTV, and home shopping increased prominence during this period due to people spending more time at home and actively avoiding going out in public. Because of this digital surge and its convenience, the popularity of online shopping and direct-to-consumer advertising is likely to continue at full force after the pandemic.
People had more time at home and more time to evaluate brands. And are more open to value and new brands. This shift could lead to economic instability for higher-end name brands. Still, it could help increase popularity for start-up brands promoted in DRTV and social media, giving a more level playing field.
Certain product categories surged in popularity, such as soaps, hand sanitizers, and other types of sanitizing products, as well as health, fitness, and home improvement products and services. Pandemic behavior will likely linger for a long time post-pandemic, and marketers can take advantage of the trends created during the pandemic.
Written by our own Gen Z, Ariel Smith
It’s official, Generation Z has been declared as those born between the years 1995-2015, (3 to 23 years old). This group is born into a planet of technology and a time where social media is the norm. So what does this mean for marketers? Well, it means it’s time for us to step up our game and adapt to these new societal changes, whether we like it or not. They want connections; therefore the old school hard sell is not the best way to advertise first anymore. No fluff messages are allowed, they can see right through that. We live in a time where short attention spans are the norm, due to the instant gratification society we live in today. The Internet has allowed us to dig into what a brand’s true colors are and what they stand for.
As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with the newest trends, technology, social platforms, etc. In order for us to better connect with generation Z, it is important for us to understand the culture of this generation. Marketers must embrace technology and the new ways of storytelling. Here are four ways to market to Generation Z.
Work on Social Media Game: There is having social media and there is using social media. A few platforms that Generation Z frequently use are Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. The more you know about using each platform’s features, the better you can connect with your audience. Hashtags are a simple but effective way to help promote your brand organically. Engage with your audience by actually taking the time to respond to comments; they will appreciate it. User generated content is a sure way to have your own crowd; create contests and loyalty programs to spark up your social media. Remember, it’s also important to be relevant and engaging on all your platforms.
Utilize Video- Video marketing has become extremely popular over the past few years in the digital era. According to HubSpot, 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions. That is a whooping 90%! The key is to be authentic as much as possible. There are various options like Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and Snapchat Stories, just to name a few. The key is to keep the copy light and the graphics colorful to grab and maintain attention. Short videos with subtitles are the way to go! Using video communications to connect with your audience is a great and easy way to get new leads and sales.
Be Mobile Friendly– Phones are the primary platform of Gen Z, because they’re glued to them 24/7. It’s important to be mobile friendly for your product. A few factors to consider are to make sure your content is quick to load, as you don’t want to lose eyeballs, a quick and simple Call to Action, minimal copy, and a clear message.
Create Awesome Content– As stated before (this is key to marketing to Gen Z), fluffing your message to potential customers is not the way to go. Instead, focus on providing information viewers can learn from or that they would find engaging and entertaining. This way, they will be thinking positively and optimistically about your brand and not dread a commercial interruption. In fact, they will be way more likely to engage and become a long-term customer.
The year was 1990. I was working in mainstream advertising. Shooting commercials for Madison Avenue shops that wound up on Super Bowls, Academy Awards, Olympics, and prime time. There was some prestige, but no accountability. And there was a strange new type of advertising brewing. Long commercials. They were tacky and cheesy, yet captivating. They invited people to call and order unique products they could not get anywhere else.
They were called infomercials. I snuck out, under cover I thought, to attend a conference at the Mirage in Las Vegas for a group called NIMA. It stood for National Infomercial Marketing Association. I snuck because I did not want my ad agency clients to know I was there. It would somehow tarnish my cool image.
Yet, somehow, I wound up in People magazine. My cover was blown. I was now, whether I liked it or not, part of the infomercial business.
There was a vitality and spark about the NIMA people that didn’t exist with the Madison Avenue crowd. I met all sorts of people and didn’t fully understand what they all did. But I collected hundreds of cards and networked. And gradually some of those people started to hire me to produce their infomercials. It was exciting and scary because they knew right away how many people were calling and ordering. The immediacy was incredibly exhilarating.
I lived a double life for several years, shooting Madison Avenue spots while sneaking around with the infomercial crowed. I just could not pull myself away from them. It was like driving on the highway and seeing an accident, the blood, not wanting to look, but somehow not able to turn away.
And I always looked forward to those NIMA conferences. I became a member. I went to all the conferences and met more and more amazing people.
We networked on the show floor, in the hallways, in restaurants, in the airports, on the planes. In fact, I met one of my largest clients on a plane coming back from a conference. It was fantastic. I worked with famous actors and models, musicians, circus animals, athletes, Doctors, and tons of real people who testified through affidavit that the product they used changed their lives forever and ever. NIMA changed their name to ERA (Electronic Retailing Association) and added more conferences. Miami. Vegas. Washington. Europe.
At one point, just after 9/11 in NYC, in a moment of reckoning, I abandoned Madison Avenue and went full throttle into the client direct business. ERA became my best friend. Most of my business came directly through ERA functions. I volunteered for committees, became part of a community, people started to know and trust me, and I started to forge life long friendships.
Each year, the ERA dues went up and up. Membership started declining. The shows seemed more and more empty. People did business in suites, in other hotels, bars, many never even came to the host hotel. It all crumbled.
I began to feel my dues were more like a charity contribution. And if I really wanted to contribute to a charity, I would send to St. Jude, not ERA.
So, with much guilt, I stopped paying dues in 2017. I saw no value proposition and was receiving nothing in return. And apparently I was not the only one.
I watched my dear friend ERA die a slow and excruciating death, until its final breath on June 1st, 2018, the day I received an email that ERA was no more. That ERA could not continue operating “in the face of declining dues receipts, fewer sponsorships and an overall shortage of revenue coupled with burdensome expenses”.
With terminal illness, you know that death will come; yet when it does, it is still a shock. 28 years of friendship. Now death. So final. So sad.
ERA failed to keep up with the times. Failed to serve all their members, just focusing on the top few big spenders. Failed to incorporate new technologies and new ways of selling into the equation. They lost their relevance, ran out of oxygen and died.
So, as I mourn my good friend of 28 years, I reflect on the good memories, the friends and colleagues, the career that I would not have, had I not befriended ERA. But let’s keep alive the community and camaraderie that was forged through ERA. And let’s do this as an industry together.
Perhaps this death, as many deaths do, will even bring us closer together as an industry.
Good by, old friend. Eternal thanks. I will miss you.
BE CREATIVELY FEARLESS IN ADVERTISING AND CONTENT MARKETING
By Ava Seavey, Queen Bee, Avalanche Creative Service, Inc.
The world is now a place filled with unlimited messaging and barraging of ads and content outdoors, online, in print, on the radio and on TV. The average person is hit with literally thousands of messages daily. How is it possible to grab attention, create emotion, and create interest?
Being bold and fearless in your creativity is a start. It is something that has been debated by the brand world and the world of DRTV and brand response for decades. But the interesting fact is that the brand and DRTV have blended, so that there is very little that differentiates them, other than the immediacy and urgency of DRTV and the way that media is purchased. Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube are the ultimate direct response marketing vehicles. The opportunity to speak directly to prospects and customers on a personalized level has never been greater. Yet, mediocrity abounds in all medium, a desire for sameness, and a hesitancy to stand out.
Creativity does not need to be a dramatic shot of someone dangling from a mountaintop, an arty and stunning, exotic visual, a cheap shot at humor, or an effects filled voyage into fantasy. Creativity can be subtle and powerful, with meaning and purpose. The turn of a phrase, a compelling offer, donations to special causes, something just a bit different, but most of all, humanity. Compelling someone to pay attention because you’ve struck a chord in their head, their heart, or their soul, and they can relate. And they identify. Creativity can be found whether it is a Facebook ad, a blog post, a subject line in an email campaign, or a super bowl ad. It can be found everywhere, in every nook and cranny. In every form of media, either digital or traditional. Give them content; don’t just ask them to buy something. Give them value. Give them something to believe in.
Push the envelope and create something unexpected. Something that makes someone smile, think, or feel alive, is what drives our modern communication. Too often we get caught up in data, analytics and formulas, and we forget that we are communicating with human beings that can think, feel, laugh, weep and be inspired.
To think out of the box is risky. It makes people afraid. It tests the boundaries of their belief systems and of everything they thought was comfortable and proper.
To not think out of the box is far riskier. To risk being invisible is a far greater risk.
Stand up. Speak up. Take risks. You might strike out, but you tried. Babe Ruth struck out a lot as he broke records hitting home runs. If you can get up to the plate, take that big swing.
Ava Seavey is president of Avalanche Creative Services, Inc., a creative shop that produces TV, radio, print and digital advertising.