Invasion of the Direct Response Advertisers...and Copywriters

One of my first copywriting jobs was in the advertising department of a department store chain. My boss was a chain smoking wafer thin woman who was 54 trying to be 23. Yes--in this department, you could smoke and I was one of the few people who did not. I used to write the copy for these "double truck" ads that would take up two pages in the newspaper. I would write about four lines of copy for each item and there were usually about 20 household items. Yes--I wrote about the many benefits of a coffee maker. Good training, actually.

Those department store ads in newspapers have gone the way of smoking in the workplace. So, who is advertising in the newspaper these days? Yes, there are some local businesses and a few big brands like Verizon. But guess who started popping up in my newspaper? Direct response advertisers, selling anything from Amish-made space heaters to miracle arthritis cures.

The copy in these ads is mostly very good. DR media buyers are usually excellent at getting media space extremely cheaply. I haven't seen many DR ads recently so I wonder if the DR ads are getting enough pull to justify the cost of the placement. From a DR standpoint, newspaper placement makes sense because of the older demographic; the ads look 90 per cent like an article and yes, they have to put the word "advertisement" at the top of the page but any DR ad that looks like an article is more likely to maximize response.

I think the invasion will likely continue.

Open your paper and you'll find that DR advertisers have invaded...