February 01, 2018

The 2017 True Top 50

It's time once again for my annual TRUE TOP 50, powered by DRMetrix. Click on the image below to see the most-aired DRTV campaigns in rank order. Then see below for a breakdown of the top marketers, producers and feeders of 2017.

(Click to see the complete chart)


As you know, I no longer put out awards. If that's the sort of thing you crave, check out the latest AdSphere™ Awards. Four marketers and two brands took home the top prizes for 2017. Dozens of others received category awards. The full list is here.

Moving on, here's a breakdown and ranking of the 'Big Five' DRTV marketers by number of Top 50 hit campaigns:

  1. IdeaVillage (10)
  3. Telebrands (10)
  5. Allstar (8)
  7. Emson (8)
  9. Ontel (4)

For those wondering, I broke ties by giving the higher ranking to the marketer with the bigger combined Spend Index.


This year, I want to give everyone their proper due. Below is a breakdown of every producer who had a Top 50 hit, ranked by number of hits. Once again, ties were broken with a combined Spend Index calculation.

  1. Blue Reef (7)
  3. Cole (6)
  5. Hutton-Miller (5)
  7. Paddock (4)
  9. Sullivan (4)
  11. Kerrmercials (3)
  13. Kingstar (2)
  15. Blue Moon (2)
  17. Infomercials Inc. (2)
  19. Bluewater (2)
  21. Monte-Brooks (2)
  23. Schwartz (2)
  25. Concepts (1)
  27. Opfer (1)

Click here to see a chart assigning each hit on the Top 50 to the producer who created the commercial.


"Feeder” is my term for a small company that “feeds” hits to a marketer. This year, I am aware of four active feeders, one of which has decided to remain nameless. Here is my ranking of the other three:

  1. Paragon Products (4)
  3. Permission Interactive (2)
  5. Lenfest Media (2)

Paragon's hits were the Bell+Howell TacLight Lantern (11), Bell+Howell TacLight (29), Bell+Howell Tac Glasses (33) and RoboTwist (42), all with Emson. Full disclosure: Paragon Products is a partnership between Bill Quarless of Impact Products and yours truly.

Allstar also got four hits from feeders. Permission Interactive delivered Wonder Bible (17) and Baseboard Buddy (46). Lenfest delivered Hover Cover (40) and Multi-Cut (50).

Those weren't the only rollouts these feeders had in 2017, but they are the ones that made the Top 50.


Before you email me to say I missed one of your hits, let me explain my methodology. First, I only look at campaigns labeled "Short Form Products" in the DRMetrix system. I do not consider lead-generation campaigns, for example, because such campaigns work on a different business model that what this blog is all about. I wish I could exclude brand advertisers such as Proactiv as well, but there's no good way to take them out and still have an accurate chart. Just to give you an idea of why brand advertisers are a problem: Proactiv aired 32 different creatives in 2017 to gain their top spot. That's clearly a different business model with different metrics.

Second, I'm only looking at campaigns that aired during 2017. (Technically, the date range is December 26, 2016 to December 31, 2017.) Since most campaigns don't roll out exactly on January 1st, this can throw things off. For instance, a campaign that rolled out in the middle of 2016 and stopped airing in mid-2017 would only get half the credit it deserves. Again, there is no easy way to fix this.

Third, after a few charts that included 30s and 60s, I've gone back to including 120s only. This is about business models once again. It's hard to know which 30/60 campaigns are pure loss and which are actually delivering a CPO or some other worthy metric. I've heard the argument that even drive-to-retail campaigns must be moving product at retail or why would they run? Well, I've been inside almost every major DRTV company and can tell you that it's much more common for companies to 'spend and pray.' Many times, you only learn at the very end that you didn't make any money. This is also true of some 120 campaigns, by the way. It's just more likely with shorter formats because they tend to generate poor direct response and are harder to manage.

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