Ten Best Practices for Successful DRTV Advertising


This is a very simple guide to follow when producing DRTV advertising, meant for live lead generation.  Occasionally a rule may intentionally be broken, for the sake of grabbing the viewer’s attention. However, great DRTV producers are following these rules!

At National Media Connection, we actually have a similar “manifesto” posted in our production studios as a reminder to all of our editors.

10.  DO:  After the first :10 seconds of the ad, display the advertiser’s logo, phone number & web address.  This is also known as the lower third.

This gives enough time to establish the product or service you are advertising and sets a tone that you’re not crazy enough to think someone will call before they know what you’re actually promoting!  Grab their attention first before requesting them to call.

9.  DO NOT: Use fancy effects, wipes or dissolving text or graphics.

As a general rule, you do not want to try wowing the audience with “special effects” – good advertising is not intended to resemble a “Star Wars” movie.

This rule is very difficult for some Creative Directors to follow.  David Ogilvy, the Godfather of Advertising, once noted that “Your role is to sell, don’t let anything distract you from the sole purpose of advertising’.  If your goal is to entertain first and sell second, you shouldn’t be producing DRTV commercials.

8.  DO: KISS!

Use the K.I.S.S. method, (Keep It Simple Silly) as long as you can stimulate the targeted audience to call!  This can be a challenge, since we all love “cool” effects, but the message and the USP (Unique Selling Points) are what have to come first.  Other eye candy can actually take away from the main message and dilute the offer.

7.  DO NOT: Use odd fonts and sizes in the advertisement – no italics or serifs.

Keep the advertisement consistent, super simple and easy to read. A graphic or statement has no value if viewers can’t easily read it.  Hence, a great DRTV ad has clarity and is easy to understand.

6.  DO: Stick with a very clean, simple and minimalistic look.

This means generally use no more than two colors, maybe three max, on screen at once.  Keep it

Clean – bordering on sterile

Simple – bordering on childish (So even a kindergartener can understand it)

It may take great skill and complexity to make it look “simple”.  But at the end of the ad the viewer should be left with a clear impression that cannot be misunderstood.

5.  DO NOT: Use humor in DRTV advertising.

Hey, I love a great joke more than anyone.  Just ask my employees, clients and vendors!  I often start our staff meetings with humor (although they may argue otherwise).

If your goal is to entertain first and sell second, you shouldn’t be producing DRTV commercials.  If it’s not clearly selling the product or service, it won’t increase sales or generate response!  Statistics have shown that the use of humor dilutes the message and makes it less impactful.

4.  DO NOT:  Ever run DRTV advertising without proper disclaimers. 

Okay, maybe this is not restricted to Direct Response TV advertising alone, and won’t generate more calls, but it could save you a lot of money, and maybe even save your business.  That’s a headache worth avoiding!

The DRTV industry is under constant scrutiny, now more than ever before, so every ad produced requires a disclaimer of some sort.  Successful campaigns are even more closely scrutinized (ask DraftKings and FanDuel).  Make sure it is in there and that it’s clear and conspicuous.  If the advertising message is great – you’ll get the attention you need to evoke a response.

Get the disclaimers right the first time and you’ll save a lot of time, money and resources by not needing to replace every dub

3.  DO: List all advantages of your product or service on-screen at once, not only one after the other.

All benefits should appear, at some point, on-screen at the same time.  The biggest benefit can have a larger font size and can still dazzle more than the others.  It is impressive to show all benefits together – for the audience to see them clearly all at once

2.  DO: Use words that sell. 

There are certain words that are known to generate interest and therefore garner a greater response.  Again, don’t try to prove how smart you are by using big words or by complicating the message.  The words “Free”, “New”, “Risk Free” & “Money Back Guarantee”, for example, are known to evoke a response.

Words alone cannot make a stinky message smell like a rose.  However, if the offer already smells good – it can blow the scent farther.  Take advantage of certain “key” words and understand their connotation, good or bad. This can make a HUGE difference.

And Number 1 on our list of DRTV Do’s & Don’ts is…

1.  DO: Grab the viewers’ attention within the first five seconds!

Viewers decide if they care about your message quicker than ever before.  If you don’t capture their interest immediately, they’ll leave!  Grab their attention hard and do it fast!  Your DRTV campaign success depends on it.

Make sure that the opening line pertains to your demographic and will interest and intrigue them, even if it’s outrageous.  There are literally several thousand ads begging for attention every day.  Think hard about how your advertisement will immediately stand out.

And call National Media Connection for a no cost quote for direct response television advertising.  This is what we do best!


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.