Brand advertising techniques are very different to direct response advertising techniques.  Even when you are running an integrated multi-channel campaign it is important to understand the key differences between the two approaches so that you can orchestrate your overall campaign plan and budget to deliver maximum ROI.

To illustrate some of the key differences here is a paid media summary in the context of TV:


  • Brand advertising tends to seek a change in attitudes towards a brand and deliver uplifts in “lower funnel” sales channels such a display, search and social media
  • Direct response advertising tends to seek an immediate behavioural response – the generation of immediate clicks, leads, sales or donations.

Creative strategy:

  • Brand advertising tends to position products and services relative to each other in their category and differentiate them using emotional involvement and engagement.
  • Direct response tends to persuade consumers to buy immediately using rational messaging.

Here’s a brand advertising TV creative example: Brand advertising building emotional connections – Moneysupermarket

You can see how the essence of the Moneysupermarket ad is entertainment – it uses striking imagery to make an impression on you, build an emotional connection and increase brand trust. The aim is to increase your emotional preference for the brand and reduce your reliance on the functional benefits of the product. That way, when it comes to conversion you will opt to buy from a brand you’ve heard of, feel connected to and trust – even if the pricing or functional benefits are not necessarily the best in the market. In the case of Moneysupemarket, the “do you feel epic?” line invites consumers to be part of a movement.

Here’s a direct response TV (DRTV) advertising example: Direct response advertising is looking for an immediate behavioural response – clicks, quotes, calls, leads or sales

Here you can see how DRTV aims to deliver short-term behavioural change – i.e. web visit response – by covering a lot of selling points in a very short period of time. There is no attempt to gain an emotional connection through entertainment. Quite the opposite – here the intention is to persuade consumers using rational argument.

Ad Timelengths:

  • Brand advertising can work on lower timelength edits – typically these are 30 seconds or less – 20s or 10s.
  • Direct response advertising tends to require longer timelengths to allow the persuasive arguments to be built and the call to action delivered.

Media Frequency:

  • Brand advertising requires both reach and controlled repetition to drive memory. Typically this might be 80% reach at 5-8 OTS  –  that requires between 400 and 640 TVRs.
  • Direct response advertising aims to maximise reach at lower levels of frequency so TVR weights can be mush lighter. Given that in the UK, 10 adult TVRs equates to 5m impacts, this weight is adequate to test the responsiveness of an ad.

Media Dayparts and Programme Type:

  • Brand advertising requires access to working target audiences which means advertising when they are available to view –  typically this is when they get home from work post 5.30pm – otherwise known as peak. Tends to require high quality programme content environments to maximise chances of engagement with advertising.
  • Direct response advertising tends to work best in low interest programme environments and in dayparts where airtime is less demanded and therefore less expensive  – this tends to push DRTV advertising into off peak airtime.

Media Weight:

  • Brand advertising tends to require heavier campaign weights. This is because of the requirement to build reach and frequency. There is also strong evidence that share of voice can correlate positively with share of market outcomes
  • Direct response aims to maximise reach on the basis that consumers who do not respond on the first or second exposure are unlikely to respond to subsequent exposures in the short-term.

Campaign Evaluation:

  • Brand evaluation is based on its objectives – typically these are awareness and consideration shifts and uplift effects on other media channels such as display, search and social.
  • Direct response advertising tends to be evaluated based upon immediate response metrics,. clicks, calls, leads, sales, subscriptions and donations
  • You can read more about evaluation here


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