DTCs Learning from the Masters – Brand Building & Reach

April 26, 2021

**A version of this blog (including Part 1, which was posted last week) originally appeared in AdExchanger.**

On Friday, we discussed the ways traditional advertisers are learning from DTCs: the digital-native darlings that have flipped TV on its head by demanding real-time analytics and transparency. But all of this isn’t a one-way street. As DTCs grow and scale beyond early adopters, they are looking toward more traditional advertisers for ways to leverage TV to build brand awareness and find even more impactful reach-and-frequency strategies.

DTC competition is increasing, and it’s becoming difficult to stand out in the crowd. Customer acquisition is getting harder, all while the cost of acquisition is getting higher. Many traditional advertisers (those CPGs, QSRs, auto brands, brick-and-mortars, etc.) have products that don’t create easy repeat-purchase opportunities. Due to that, they have mastered using TV for reach, both to attract new customers and to stay top-of-mind among their existing customer base. They know it’s easier to get repeat buyers than to find new ones, even when there is a long gap between purchase cycles.

DTCs, especially, have to balance the need for new customers while creating loyalty with existing ones. Using social media and other digital channels, they have mostly focused on niche, often younger customers. But now, many DTCs need to expand beyond their core tactics and audiences and answer the question, “How do we get more customers into the funnel?”

With traditional TV (especially linear TV) being the newest strategy for DTCs to gain broader-based awareness, they are learning from the experience and scale of traditional advertisers, who have been using TV for brand building for generations.

For example, think about seniors and older consumers. These groups are driving the shift toward online shopping, adopting new digital behaviors and becoming more tech-adept in the wake of stay-at-home orders and social distancing policies. E-commerce is becoming part of their routine. And, as a result, this is an opportunity for DTC brands to find new customers via TV, to tell their brand story and extend reach to more audiences in front of the big screen.

Today, analytics allow advertisers to measure reach, reach extension and unique reach from TV channels and platforms just like DTCs have been able to do on digital.

And you can’t talk reach without frequency.

Frequency capping on TV is hard, especially given the plethora of platforms and screens to exploit. Traditional TV advertisers have had years to finesse their exposure strategies, and DTCs need to do better.

With many DTCs starting on digital, where you find your target and hit it hard, the same ad will follow someone around for days after that first click, search or abandoned cart. But on TV, that’s just not cost effective. Yet, it’s happened to me, particularly on OTT, where, I swear, I’ve seen the same ad 40 times in one week. You are either clobbered into submission, or end up with a persistently negative view of a new brand.

Traditional TV advertisers have played the GRP game for years, and are more adept at finding that “sweet spot” between reach and frequency. Not that I am advocating that GRPs are the answer (they aren’t!), but DTCs need to be smarter with their brand perception, money and TV data to balance reach and frequency across audiences, screens and platforms to grow beyond their base and yield the best and most profitable outcomes.

Whether you’re a young DTC brand or a decades-old advertiser, the availability of data and measurement have made cross-platform TV the most powerful marketing channel. And by learning from each other, there isn’t a brand that exists that can’t leverage TV for game-changing growth.

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