Filling the ROI Gap
Return on Investment (ROI) is the ubiquitous buzzword of 21st-century business. Yet in media and advertising, many firms are locked into a traditional understanding of ROI that treats it as an unexamined constant, or worse, as a necessary evil.
( July 28, 2010 - Sacramento, CA -- Introduction 

Return on Investment (ROI) is the ubiquitous buzzword of 21st-century business. Yet in media and advertising, many firms are locked into a traditional understanding of ROI that treats it as an unexamined constant, or worse, as a necessary evil. Responding to ROI demands using the full gamut of modern technological and business tools is often not the firm's top priority, leaving these solutions to be applied piecemeal rather than in a comprehensive way. 

TeleDirect surveyed over 2,600 media and advertising companies, with a survey response rate of 10%. The results illustrate surprising gaps between respondents' perceptions of ROI demands, and what they themselves feel is missing in their clients' efforts to support true ROI. 


Respondents were asked eight questions: 

Are your clients asking you to show Return on Investment on advertising you are involved with? 
Do you feel confident you can prove Return on Investment to your clients? 
Do you feel your clients work leads hard enough to establish a true Return on Investment? 
Do you feel confident you can prove the number of leads your clients receive? 
Do you provide Internet advertising for your clients? 
Do you resell Contact Management Solutions or CRMs? 
Do you resell call tracking? 
Do you outsource to or resell call center services? 

Responses to the first question paint a "good news/bad news" picture. Fully 31.5% of respondents say that clients are asking them to demonstrate ROI. Of the remainder, some may have formally or informally passed the ROI test, and others may yet face such demands in the future, as clients become more sophisticated. 

The second question yields a less ambiguous result: only 58.3% of respondents feel confident that they can prove ROI. The nearly 42% who cannot, then, are to say the least in a disadvantageous position, to the extent that such proof may be demanded, now or at some future date. 

But respondents do not entirely accept that this state of affairs is within their control. Only 32.3% say their clients work leads hard enough to establish a true ROI. But some of the responsibility lies with the respondent's company: only 48% feel they can prove the number of leads their clients receive. 

The remaining four questions expose a gap in services that could help establish ROI. Of the companies surveyed, only 32.3% provided Internet advertising; only 10.2% offered Contact Management Solutions or CRMs; only 12.6% provided call tracking; and perhaps most surprisingly - in light of these numbers - only 20.5% made call center services available to their clients. 


The portrait that emerges is of an industry that is hesitant to accept a role in quantifying and enhancing ROI to the benefit of its clientele, whether by willful adherence to earlier role definitions or lack of awareness of present trends. As ad spend increasingly migrates to electronic media, for example, fewer than one third of respondents report offering Internet advertising services. 

Similarly, while more than 40% of all respondents do not report confidence in their ability to prove ROI for their services, and only about a third of respondents report that their clients provide the necessary follow-up to establish a true ROI, very few report providing the services that could help clients do so. This may be due to acceptance of a bright dividing line in the mind of the advertising or media company. In effect they declare that they will provide creative and exposure; it is the client's responsibility to determine whether it works. 

This division may be blurring with the advent of new media and more integrated marketing; in any event those few companies that are providing proven resources for establishment of ROI are clearly at a competitive advantage. 

One Case Study: Seminar Edge Calls From Direct Mail

One example of the ROI advantage offered by well organized call center services can be seen in TeleDirect's reporting of its Seminar Edge service. Seminar Edge handles every telephonic aspect of seminar reservations, providing 800 numbers for advertising, as well as booking, customer care, and integrated mail services to attendees.

Gathering data on 1,058,272 calls, the company found that fewer than 60% were true leads, whereas more than 40% were wrong numbers, reservation confirmations, requests for information, directions and other calls.

While hang-ups are an inevitable part of call center response work, and while informational aspects of customer care have value of their own, those calls that resulted in registrations are the cornerstone ROI metric for a direct mail campaign advertising a seminar.

Measuring against the 60% lead figure, TeleDirect is able to refine its services; just as importantly, direct mail advertisers are able to determine whether their campaign is encouraging reservations or other services (such as requests for directions to the seminar). A direct-mail advertiser working hand-in-hand with TeleDirect is able to determine which types of information are being neglected in their mailers, and which are being overemphasized; when ROI is measured and pursued, both the advertiser and the integrated call center can pursue measurable improvement in campaign services.


Whether an advertising/media company operates through new media such as the Internet, through traditional media such as broadcast and print, or through a combination, information on return on investment is currently demanded by a sizable proportion of advertising clientele, and is likely to be demanded by a larger segment of that clientele in the future.

In the past, media and advertising companies could create walled-off silos of service provision, but the increasing emphasis on ROI puts pressure on these companies to establish or acquire services to reliably measure ROI. Proven resources are available to establish ROI for media and advertising companies. It remains to be seen which firms will avail themselves of them. 

About Teledirect 

Sacramento-based TeleDirect [url=http://[]][] has been supporting business owners since 1961. TeleDirect's call center, customer survey, and lead-tracking solutions have been recognized time and again for providing outstanding customer experiences with comprehensive tracking, management, and reporting capabilities. 


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