October 13, 2010

Summer True Top 50

Quite a few things have changed since the last time I published this feature.

First, I changed my sources of information. For example, Lockard & Wechsler is no longer involved in the creation of this report in any way.

Second, I revised my methodology slightly. The True Top 50 will now be seasonal instead of monthly. I think that's appropriate given there are two services already reporting weekly rankings, and my intention was never to compete with them -- just to provide and use the most "true" information possible. Also, I find 90 days or so to be a good way to correct for those marketers who employ an advertising "pump and dump" strategy.

Along similar lines, I am also now factoring both the number of spots aired and the amount spent. It is my hope this will adequately correct for the various distortions that can make a campaign look stronger than it is. As for the reliability of the data, it comes from multiple, independent sources and does not reflect self-reporting of any kind.

All of that said, I admit even this methodology is still imperfect for the following reasons:

  1. I have no way of accounting for marketers who spend like traditional advertisers to support retail. As a result, it isn't necessarily true that a high-ranked item is working on TV in the traditional sense (i.e. turning a profit).

  2. I have no way of accounting for continuity business models where the cost-per-lead can be high because the average lifetime value of the customer is also high. I could exclude these marketers, but I have chosen not to do so.

  3. There is no good way to correct for periods of low response or poor product selection in general. When consumers' response to DRTV programs is weak like it was this summer, campaigns make it into the Top 50 that wouldn't have belonged there just a few months prior. A similar effect occurs when the top marketers are struggling to find that next big hit. Specifically, the distortive effect of the Ped Egg, Smooth Away and Snuggie campaigns becoming post-peak should not be underestimated. Looking at the campaigns where I know the actual results, I see many mediocre items made it into my Top 50.

That said, I accept the chart for what it is -- the best it can be (although I am always open to suggestions for improvement). In my next post, I will evaluate my predictions against this chart and either crow or eat crow.

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