Is Pay-Per-Call TV Right for Your Biz?


A successful pay-per-call or performance marketing campaign is the Holy Grail for any company looking to sell their service or products.  I have calls with companies daily who hope we can create guaranteed sales for them through our productions and media, but I end up turning many away. There are specific criteria that we look for when considering a campaign, and if these requirements are not met, it will mean wasting a lot of our time and resources only to end up with a frustrated client looking for answers.  “Why aren’t we getting more calls?” and “Why aren’t the calls more consistent?” are the two questions we hear most often.  To ensure the experience is great for all parties, we’ve developed a four point checklist that I’m providing below.

1.  Does your product or service have enough general appeal for viewers over 30 years old?  Your offer will be competing with many others in the TV marketplace.  It either has to have a very wide appeal or you have to be willing to pay a steep price for calls or sales. Young viewers prefer the internet, and it’s not a huge secret that they are deserting traditional TV viewing in droves–that’s a tough demo to reach.  Kitchen or cleaning products work because who doesn’t have a kitchen and who doesn’t want to have a clean house with less effort? We’ve done well with mortgage and life insurance as lead generation campaigns because everyone either wants to save on their mortgage or take care of their family.  Small niche products/services can’t compete on TV.  It’s called “broadcasting” for a reason, folks.  Take your niche product to direct mail, print or the internet for more efficient results, unless you are willing to pay more for the call with the understanding that you are also branding your company through the power of television.  This will ad weight to all of your other media.

2.  Is the price you’re willing to pay realistic?  Just the other day, we spent 55 minutes on a call with a large company, discussing creatives and call coverage at length.  They were excited and we were excited.  It sounded like a real winner.  Then I asked how much they were able to pay for a :30 or longer inbound call, and everything came to a screeching halt.  Even though they were looking for an extremely niche caller, basically less than 1% of viewers, they could only pay about one-third the cost of a refinance call.  It was immediately clear that this offer could not compete with our other offers.  If our network partners air a refinance commercial and it generates $500 worth of inbound calls, why would they want to air this offer, which would generate less than half of that revenue?  These were good people with a large company and I thoroughly enjoyed our call.  Still, I could not justify spending a lot of our time, money, and resources on their campaign.

3.  Can you offer your product or service nationally?   The fewer restrictions we put on our campaigns, the more they flourish.  One thing that can destroy a campaign is not monetizing calls in the largest markets.  Not all states are created equal, so excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, etc., is not a problem.  New York, California and Texas are must haves, though.  We usually look for coverage in at least 80% of the country.  The more calls we block, the more you’ll have to pay for the others, which can quickly turn a great campaign into one that’s borderline.

4.  Can you answer calls 24/7?  These campaigns rely on “distress inventory.”  With the proliferation of cable, satellite, and digital TV networks across the country, there’s been a significant increase in spot and infomercial inventory over the last ten years.  Our industry was completely different when there were only three national networks and one or two local stations in each market.  Your business can enjoy the benefits of this additional inventory, but it has to compete with other offers.  It’s still a competitive industry, so we’ve found that being able to take calls 24/7, without restrictions, will allow your offer to air more often and be competitive.  This includes holidays and overnights.  At every station or network, there is a traffic manager.  This person’s job is to take all of the shows and commercials and to compile a station “log.”  The log dictates what airs and when.  This is usually done 24 to 48 hours, sometimes even 96 hours, in advance.  In my experience, traffic managers have a very stressful job, full of pressure and frustration.  Spots can arrive late, shows can have transmission issues, which makes their job even more challenging.  That’s why they have strict deadlines, and they don’t take kindly to ANYTHING or ANYBODY that causes them even more stress.  Okay, admittedly, I’ve had my run-ins with a few traffic managers when trying to get my advertisers on the air.  I get it, though.  Their jobs aren’t easy and I respect what they do.  They are not the highest paid employees but they wield a lot of power.  So when they are looking to fill a “hole” in their log, which is where your spot may go, they want to throw something in quickly.  If they have to look up when your offer can air, a competing 24/7 offer will air instead.  And yes, traffic managers are people too, so they tend to appreciate certain offers and air them more often.  Those offers are always the ones that can air 24/7, have national coverage and generate revenue every time they air.

I understand that meeting all of the above criteria isn’t easy.  That’s why we’ve developed relationships with a few good call centers to handle your after-hours calls.  We even have a lead nurturing program to help you get in contact with everyone who responds to your commercials/infomercials.

Our creative team will make sure your offer will generate maximum call volume to ensure that, once you meet this criteria, it will change your business and increase your bottom line beyond your wildest dreams.  Give us a call at any time for a free consultation and let us go to work for you.

About the author:

Considered one of advertising’s most respected and imaginative broadcast media buyers and campaign managers, Matthew Goldreich has a nearly 20-year track record of direct response marketing success.

An expert in television and radio infomercial and short-form marketing, Matt has created and produced winning campaigns for the mortgage, auto, insurance, hair restoration, and a multitude of other industries.

Founder of his own successful full-service, direct-response television advertising agency and production company, Matt’s broadcast employment includes NBC and Pax (ION) Television. He has written, produced, and directed dozens of infomercials as well as hundreds of successful short-form, direct-response ads.23