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Why Nontent Is Your Greatest Opportunity to Sell

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What is nontent? Nontent is what you watch on television when you're not really watching anything.

Nontent is your fifth consecutive "House Hunters International" episode or another History Channel retrospective on an obscure general. Or a mindless game show. Or a "Leave It to Beaver" marathon. This is nontent. The direct response television (DRTV) advertiser's dream.

Everybody watches nontent. If they say they don’t, they're lying. As much as people love their favorite shows, many viewers use TV to simply unwind, relax, or zone out after a hectic day. If content is what people are yearning to spend their time watching, nontent is what they’re using to escape.  And that's where advertisers can find their greatest opportunity to sell.

The propensity for a viewer to become a buyer goes up to the degree that their involvement in what they're watching goes down. There's an inverse relationship between program involvement and response. In other words, if you're bored, you're more likely to buy. A common term for this is “impulse buying.” This is tried and true. It's been working for DRTV advertisers for years. In fact, it was one of the principles that Alvin Eicoff used to build his DRTV agency over 50 years ago, and it still stands today.

Facts About Impulse Buying


Consider some of the facts according to the US Department of Commerce.


  • Impulse buying is big business. It is estimated that 40% of all money spent is through impulse buying.


  • 60% of females made an impulse purchase in 2011.


  • 90% of people make an occasional impulse purchase, and between 30-50% of all purchases were classified by the buyers themselves as impulse purchases.


  • Younger consumers with higher incomes have a greater percentage of impulse purchases.


The business implications: Reach people at the right time with the right message---even when they’re not planning a purchase---and you’re likely to secure a sale.

So, how can you be sure to take advantage of the right time slots to draw your audience in? Here are a few questions to consider before planning your next advertising campaign.


  • Given the demographics of the target audience, are they more likely to respond to my offer while at home watching television? If so, what type of programming are they likely to watch during off-time to unwind?


  • What type of advertisement and offer is going to entice my audience to make an immediate purchase or act on another call to action?


  • Does the majority of my target market spend more time watching television or using iPads, web-enabled mobile devices, or other types of new media?


Your answers to these questions will help define your strategy in terms of direct response calls to action, programming, and markets in which to air your ads.

The bigger question for advertisers looking to pursue a nontent strategy is: As the tablet and mobile phenomenon continues to expand and as the device of choice evolves, what is the level of involvement for these tech-savvy content consumers? How does "involved viewing" breakout across the multiple screens that are an ever-increasing part of the media landscape? How much nontent is making its way to those screens?

The jury's still out. But, rest assured, DRTV agencies and their clients are already testing these propositions. And you can also count on the fact that whether it's a mobile device, a tablet, a computer, or some new version of the good old TV set, nontent viewers and related advertising opportunities will abound.





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Bill McCabe is CEO of A. Eicoff & Co., where over the last 27 years he has played a key role in building it into the DRTV leader it is today.

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