Issues in Direct Response Advertising

A. Overview of Direct Response Advertising
Direct response advertising is a form of commercial advertising
designed to solicit a direct response from consumers, which is specific
and quantifiable. The delivery of the response is “direct” between the
viewer and the advertiser; that is, the customer responds to the marketer
directly. Unlike traditional broadcast advertising where the purpose is
essentially to create an overall knowledge and general demand for a
product or service, the purpose of direct response advertising is to trigger
a sale or inquiry instantaneously.
The direct response industry has its own self-regulatory program run
by the Council for Better Business Bureaus, the Electronic Retailing
Self-Regulation Program (ERSP). According to Section 1.1(A) of the
ERSP Policy and Procedures, the term “direct response advertisement”
or “direct response advertising” is defined as:
[A]ny commercial message, in any electronic medium of
dissemination, in which consumers are asked to place an order or
obtain additional information regarding a product or service by any
means utilizing an electronic device, such as a toll-free telephone
number, e-mail or online request, or interactive TV. Direct response
advertising is also customarily and s ynonymously refe rred to in the
electronic retailing industry as “electronic retailing.”1
The current primary media of direct response advertising are
television, radio, and the internet. Broadcast advertising is typically
disseminated in either short-form (e.g., 60 and 120 seconds) or long form
spots (e.g., 30 minutes), sometimes referred to as infomercials. However,
direct response advertising may include other media, including product
packaging and/or labeling, print advertising, social media marketing,
1. Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, The Electronic Retailing Self-
Regulation Program: Policy & Procedures (as amended Oct. 16, 2012)
Apr. 3, 2012) available at

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