The Importance of Seasonality in Direct Response TV

By Beth Vendice President, Mercury Media Boston | January 30, 2011

For travel marketers there is always a good reason to stay active in direct response TV. But the seasonality of most travel companies and destinations makes having a keen sense of the calendar extremely important to a successful direct response campaign. Of course, not all companies are seasonal. A hotel chain will always have a reason to advertise via direct response TV to keep brand awareness high, and quality leads flowing. Likewise, cities like Las Vegas are year round destinations. But ski resorts, golf courses, and other destinations have ebbs and flows. Regardless, all travel companies need to be prepared.

That preparation starts with an awareness of the range of TV advertising rates from month to month and season to season. A good direct response advertising agency will continually buy inventory for its clients to guarantee the best price, minimize fluctuations and clearance, while also presenting greater opportunities for the most efficient times of year (i.e. January is the most attractive month in terms of inventory and rates). While audience size and composition and programming changes regularly, the need for travel companies to be in front of the right audiences does not.

Most direct response TV advertising space is traded at a price that has a direct relationship with a station's average price (SAP). The SAP is calculated by dividing the total revenue in a month by the total viewing for a particular audience. The higher the viewing on one particular month, the lower the price will be. The months where viewing is highest are in the winter, when the weather is colder and evenings are darker, and we all stay at home more and watch television. For example, the average amount of time individuals spent watching TV in January 2009 was 4.02 hours daily compared to 3.43 hours daily in June 2009. The higher a station's revenue is in a particular month, the higher the SAP will be. The months that are most in demand are typically October and November, as pre-holiday advertising is in full swing, followed by Back to School and end if June.

In terms of direct response TV planning, however, we recommend a consistent approach regardless of the seasonality of your brand. Direct response TV will continue delivering qualified leads and bookings on a consistent basis while simultaneously your brand top of mind. Remember that DRTV, even for travel brands, is aimed at communicating a brand, a destination, and a service. We're not recommending buying an aggressive schedule for a ski resort in June. But we do recommend that such a destination hit hard from November through February and plan accordingly.

The key to success and affordability is planning ahead. It allows a direct response TV agency to buy time at the best rate and for the best dayparts. It allows the creative team to be ready with several different approaches to best optimize your campaign within the calendar plan. And while seasonality is more important than specific months, the following calendar recommendations might give you an idea of the dos and don'ts of planning for different time intervals.

January:

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