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The greatest trick Direct Response has pulled has been convincing the world it doesn't exist. (Someone Changed My Johnson Box)
By: Brian Keller
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Wandering the internet, the other day I ran into, I guess, and ad, an advertorial, a direct response something. I hadn't thought about DR for a while, as it's so digitally disguised  you don't notice it. 

Direct Response was the herpes of advertising as no ad people admitted to its practice and, if caught they were shunned. Today, it's not so much like that as DR seems to be disguised as native advertising, some form of morphed advertorial and email. Although there are billions of print DM pieces, there are trillions of its digital brethren. Using analytics, tracking, the new affordability of video, and several interesting practices, DR has managed to reinvent itself and resides at the front of digital/social efforts. People with beards and messenger bags and skateboards are involved, it’s cool, but we still don't like to say DR. Messaging now comes from our friends and our friends know us well. 

One day I saw directed toward me on a social media application. 

Heather: "Hi, I'm Heather, chief blogger at xxxxx and mentor to 70,000+ bloggers and I want to invite you to my free 5-day blogging crash course that simplifies everything into a step-by-step process • •! "

I countered by answering the ad by responding to the approach with copy from a native ad to see what would happen.

Me: That's really cool but Did you know eating the right protein can help you lose weight… but eating the wrong protein could destroy your health? I really could use a "fascinating trick that combats weight gain".

Later, the following appeared on one of my social media feeds along with an email from the weight gain fighters. 

Heather: "A Step by Step Email Course to Start a Money Making Blog The Right Way." Hey, this woman is serious. I answered her from an ad I saw while reading an article concerning my my beloved Yankees _ New York Post Sports

ME: That is t
oo cool. But, after I combat weight gain, i need to sleep well but I hear many of us make mistakes when we go to sleep and I think by fixing it, I could improve my sleep and the health and appearance of my hair and skin, But, what is the number one mistake? 

I received a carousel of revolving ads on my sports page from Blissy.com. and this from my new friend.
Heather: ... "Sign up now! The course is 100% free.

Me: (I answered with) Free, that's neat, but my skin feels kind of dry, I don't know if I can concentrate with this skin problem. I think before I blog I need to find a plastic surgeon who can provide fertilizer for my skin, a plastic surgeon in one of the country’s most prestigious zip codes who has a breakthrough in the treatment of aging, wrinkled skin that promises to disrupt the $300 billion beauty industry. I need someone who has found “The big ah-ha a guy or gal who has realized that beautiful skin is created within… not from the outside-in.” When I find that, I can talk about blogging.

I then received a blizzard of advertorials (NY Post Sports) from a group representing this doctor. I did not know they were advertorials until they told me they were advertorials, I thought they were native ads.

Okay, what's the difference. 

Then I received the following message.

Heather: "I Make $30,000/month from Blogging."

Me: The money is great and I'm sure your one great blogger and your husband looks nice in shorts, but I'm worried about our planet. Have you heard about the revelation of the silence surrounding the new "fatal fat" that can set your joints on fireThis shocking revelation kind of tempers all the vitriol directed at our beloved leaders both, federal and state. Let the healing begin and join together as one diverse but united nation and dedicate ourselves to impeaching and removing joint burning, "fatal fat" from the lexicon of the American vernacular. I, for one, feel very comfortable that our country can win this joint fire fat war. if there was only a leader a guy or gal who could tell us if “There are several foods that I ask them to cut from their diets – these are like inflammatory fire-starters.   

I think it could be amazing how much better people will feel when they make these simple changes.

I tricked the fatal fat people and switched papers. I went to the LA Times - 3,000 miles away and received a million messages from the Daily Stock Traders - the people who had presented fatal fat to me. I did a bit of digging and found this to be native. Okay what's the difference. I kept going and switched papers again and went incognito.

If only someone would step out from his/her clinic, and record a video with his “hit list” of foods that cause inflammation and joint pain.

And he or she would have to have s particular scorn for a new, industrial fat that has invaded the American food supply and accordingly condemn this new fatal fat as “basically poison, which sets inflammatory fires in your joints. 

Heather: "Not only will my husband xxx and I walk you through every aspect of getting your blog up and running, but we'll share our best monetization methods so you can earn an income with your blog too."

Me: After our victory, we all go back to work to build a better economy, and nation, but first, we will need to be comfortable. I know that to be productive and to keep turning out these superbly handcrafted, curated, artisanal columns, it is incumbent on me to find business-appropriate shoes that feel like sneakers

Then, I received a message on Facebook from Everlane - the business-appropriate shoe company

Heather then reached out with an email. How did she get my email (the real one)? Could it be the 8 million applications I use that have my email? Probably not as I'm sure all my information is safe. Heather " The 65% discount is still active! Have you started your blog yet?"

Me: What does 65% off of free come to? No response, ha. I beat her. 

I've been followed from paper to paper and magazine to magazine. Anyway, I still can't find a difference between an advertorial and a native ad. 

And, there's Direct Email marketing. They used to be a real art to DM but now, not so much. They're just kind of boring. No books offered no CD clubs, record clubs - no such thing - even though vinyl is now very hot, in fact there's no nothing in rank and file email messaging. Why here's one now, with a generic picture of fabulous, market-leading, software they were trying to sell me. 

The woman who wrote the email, if she exists, didn’t bother to know my name, although she claimed to have “caught me” last week. I don’t know what her company sells or what they do. Below is the only email I’ve received from the writer of the message that lives peacefully below.

Hi Est, (actually my name is Brian)

"I wanted to catch up with you today, as I must have caught you at a busy time last week! As mentioned in my previous email, to thank you for taking an interest in Blank Blankpreviously, I’d like to offer you an exclusive 14-day trial of our market-leading software – so that you can truly see the value for your business. I would hate for you to miss out, so I have extended this for an additional week! Do you have availability today? I can get you set up in no time. I look forward to hearing from you!"



Me - Forget today, let's meet in your office? I'll bring the C-Suite people. We'll open the kimono on the market-leading software we may use throughout our White Label silos. We may congeal product lines, to tap into your enterprise software. I'm looking forward to our meeting. You're right we don’t want to miss out. Shoot me your office address. We can make it on Thursday. Oh, do you know what we do? Can I have your phone number? What does your software do? We also make software; I'd like to set you up with software that works seamlessly by integrating companies who make market-leading software with companies who have software. Our software is white label and flies under our white linen label.

She never wrote back. 

Well, I thought it was all over, the article finished, and then....

"It’s Heather here!

I noticed you may have missed an important step!?

You signed up for the 5-day course to start your new blog!! ❤

But I haven’t seen your blog started yet…

(And the remaining steps in the course wouldn’t be helpful.)

For $2.75/mo can get your own blog started and you’ll be on your way to creating the type of life you want to live… 😎"

Heather, isn't $2.75 a month not free? So, whether it's advertorial, native, direct email marketing, none of it is ever free. At least, thankfully, some things remain true to their roots



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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at Chomavision/Chromavision Brand Lab in Manhattan, NYC, USA.
He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies) and went to University of Baltimore School of Law.
He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence and Talent Zoo once.

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