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By Dan Zifkin
TVNewsCheck, November 9, 2010 11:17 AM EST

Stations are always looking for ways to increase revenue. One of the perennial options has been infomercials. As stations focus on their bottom line against a tightening economy, they are slowly opening up long-form infomercials to their schedules. The problem is stations have been primarily programming them back to back — and the result is a loss of effectiveness for the infomercial marketer, which ultimately impacts in lower revenues for the station.

Stations recognize that infomercials represent a viable form of revenue. The question is, how can stations best work with infomercials in order to maximize revenue potential? Cable programming services, particularly startups, appreciate infomercials. They even program them in the most attractive dayparts, checkerboarding them with their own original or acquired programming.

TV stations can take a cue from this practice: Infomercial results are improved if these programs have a fairly decent lead-in. If stations create an enhanced programming environment around infomercials, the infomercial providers will garner more sales and purchase more time.

The infomercials that produce the best results are those that have regular program leading in and leading out. Applying this reality, stations can maximize revenues from DRTV [direct response television], while maintaining audience flow.

There may even be times of year where stations can open up the opportunity for DRTV marketers to air their programming within more significant dayparts. What this approach will do is increase the value of the half-hour infomercial, while not disturbing programming flow to the point that stations think it might, creating a win-win for station and infomercial marketer alike.

Short-form direct response spots are more flexible because they land almost anywhere in a schedule. But whether short- or long-form, stations need to develop a strategy that will maximize revenues from DRTV opportunities through creative scheduling. By effectively balancing regular and paid programming, stations can offer a premium environment for DRTV marketers, and therefore charge for time periods accordingly.

Dan Zifkin is president and CEO of Zephyr Media Group, a full service direct response television media planning and buying agency.
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