Direct Response Television campaigns are commonly managed by specialist Direct Response or DRTV agencies with a full range of strategic, creative, production, media, and campaign services. They are also commonly managed by media buying agencies who specialize in direct response. Agencies purchase air time from media outlets such as broadcast stations and cable networks. There are two types of direct response television, long form and short form. Long form direct response is any television commercial longer than two minutes. This was the accepted term for an infomercial from 1984 until "infomercial" came into vogue in 1988. The most common time period available for purchase as "long form" infomercial media is 28 minutes, 30 seconds in length. A relatively small amount or media time may be purchased in shorter lengths (e.g. 5 minutes). Short form is any DRTV commercial that is two minutes or less in length.
Several award programs recognize excellence in DRTV advertising. For short-form television direct marketing, the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) recognizes program excellence via the A. Eicoff Broadcast Innovation Award, named for DRTV pioneer and DMA Hall of fame member, Alvin Eicoff Other awards are sponsored by The Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) who honor both short-form and long-form DRTV advertising.
To qualify for the special media rates offered DRTV commercials, the advertising must ask the consumer to contact the advertiser directly by phone or via the web. In the early days of DRTV, this was nearly always to purchase the product. Over time, a wide range of consumer actions have become used. And, many consumers watch the advertising, but choose to purchase at retail without ever contacting the company.
Many types of companies use DRTV. The first are marketing companies who specialize in DRTV and bring products out exclusively sold through TV. Many of these items find their way to retail shelves once their television campaign has ended. Mass merchant retailers often have "as seen on TV" sections in their stores.
In recent years, many brand manufacturers have begun to use DRTV as a part of their advertising mix. In these cases, most products featured on DRTV are also available at retail. The DRTV campaigns ask for direct consumer action either to purchase the product or to obtain a coupon which they can use at the retail store. Companies who have used DRTV for these purposes include DuPont (Teflon), AAA, Rubbermaid, P&G, Toyota, Philips Consumer Electronics, Bissell, Evinrude, and Sears (Craftsman brand).
DRTV has also become a commonly used advertising medium for insurance companies, cell phone providers, credit card companies, and a host of other services. Even retailers themselves use DRTV to drive demand. Examples include The Sharper Image, Home Depot, and Sears.