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What’s driving D2C sales and performance media in the USA?

We report back from the PDMI East Conference in Miami

So last week we attended PDMI East, the spring conference of the Performance Direct Marketing Institute, the purpose of our attendance was two-fold: firstly, to network with like-minded agencies in the US to see if there were opportunities for partnership and collaboration. Secondly, to better understand the performance media landscape in the world’s biggest and most innovative D2C market. Not surprisingly it’s all about TV and digital and the two seem to be converging with the commonality being video content. There’s a sense that US consumers (or at least those under 60) no longer want to read – they consume information, whether marketing, news or entertainment in short video format.

Our top 10 takeaways from the conference:

TV remains the number 1 driver of traffic: The TV market is constantly evolving in terms of the way AV is accessed by consumers – linear (still over 50% in USA), CTV and OTT but TV remains the number one driver of performance and traffic at the top of the funnel. TV is sold differently in the USA. Whereas in the UK we tend to buy an agreed volume of a broad audience (all adults) at a low fixed cpm which the tv contractor is guaranteed to deliver, in the US the agency buys packages of remnant airtime with no guarantee of audience delivery. Some channels such as Disney offer a self serve buying solution similar to that offered by social channels like Facebook. You enter your budget (as low as $500), your targeting, your timing etc. then upload your commercial and pay by credit card. To achieve low DR / performance media rates you can buy at a pre-emptiable rate. This method of trading is being tested by other broadcasters in the US.

Video content is king – content builds trust, engagement, confidence and ultimately. sales – especially video content and especially You Tube (the worlds second most used search engine). The type of content consumers search for is generally either product reviews or instructional “how-to” videos. A strong You Tube presence increases visibility (in organic search). One agency head commented “No-one wants to read anymore”. Realistic or authentic looking UGC (often created by influencers) with lower production values often outperforms professionally produced video with higher production values.

From mobile first to mobile only – Initially websites were “mobile friendly”, next they were “mobile optimised”, then “mobile first” – soon they could become “mobile only” where the only person who ever sees the website on a desktop is the person who designs it! We are getting close to the point where nearly 100% of all traffic and sales will be on mobile. 75% of homes in the USA do not have a landline. Consumers are watching TV with their mobile in their hand. They will use the mobile to research products (e.g. You Tube reviews) and services seen on TV, scan QR codes and save response telephone numbers (which creates a longer tail!).

E-commerce is becoming “social commerce”: as the social platform owners build in the ability to shop direct from their apps they become shopping channels for millions of users. Influencers play a key part in promoting product and creating video content that can build confidence and sales. Influencers video content can also be used in paid for ads on social channels. The example given of a successful influencer backed campaign was the £45 drinking tumbler from Stanley – the must have water bottle just kept selling out after a social media campaign by e-commerce blog, The Buy Guide. “By collaborating with influencers, Stanley rejuvenated its century old legacy into a vibrant contemporary brand now valued at $750 million”. The key takeaway from Stanley’s success is the importance of being present where your audience is and engaging with them meaningfully.

Marketplaces will grow – more and more online marketplaces are being launched. It’s no longer just Amazon, Ebay and Etsy. Shopify recommends a total of 22 marketplaces to sell product on. Temu is a marketplace which connects customers directly to Chinese vendors and manufacturers. Temu spent $14 million on Superbowl LVII ads in 2023, even more in 2024. One analysis suggests Temu is losing approximately $30 per order and estimates annual losses to be running at between $588 million and $954 million. Whilst consumers complain about delivery and customer service issues Temu’s extremely aggressive pricing continues to put pressure on other online  retailers, contributing to margin erosion in a very price sensitive market.

AI will change everything – the session leader claimed it’s as important a development as electricity or the internet! AI has been around in some form for years, Apple’s Siri (launched in 2011) was one of the first AI products made available to consumers but the big leap forward came on 30th November 2022 when ChatGPT was launched. Since then hundreds of AI tools have been released and AI is helping marketeers improve efficiency and save time / resources with some fairly basic tasks such as blog writing to improve SEO rankings to more complicated tasks such as creating multiple language versions of an actors voice and presentation for TV ads – no need for dubbing or re-shooting! Amazon ads has launched AI based image generation enabling brands to produce lifestyle imagery for their products. For example, if you have an image of a coffee machine Amazon will place that in an AI generated lifestyle context such as a kitchen counter next to muffins. This lifestyle imagery produces much higher click throughs. Other ad platforms such as native platform Taboola are following suit, simplifying the creative process for advertisers with ad generative AI.The session recommended reviewing the following AI tools. – creates ready to use ads for social channels, creating multiple versions to the right size and specs. AI generated body copy is based on what the AI has learned works. It also offers real time performance tracking of copy tests. – manages your paid social, search and programmatic campaigns for you. Creates ad variations and optimises key words, Provides insights and reporting.

Sigma – data analysis and building predictive models and algorithms.

Jasper – an AI marketing assistant. Creates blogs, copy, ads, web content.

The importance of well-crafted landing pages – Generally, the longer the landing page the better. A/B test your landing pages. When building product pages or landing pages, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale: large colourful “Buy Now!” buttons work! Ideally, the buy button should remain static at the top of the page when the customer scrolls down for further information. Don’t waste time, testing things that have little or no effect on response for example, fonts or colours. Test the offer, that’s what makes the difference. For examples of optimised landing pages see the following:




QR codes – the ultimate response mechanism. They are trackable, they are created for mobile, they take the user direct to the page you want, they prevent people Googling, so you don’t pay “Google Tax”. In the US there are specific QR Code agencies. See In the US their use has proven successful across all demographics and age groups. They are used on TV but obviously need to be large enough and on screen long enough to be scannable. Tests (in the US) have demonstrated QR codes do not diminish response but increase it.

Know what you don’t know: No-one person, agency or client can master every digital discipline, Understand what you know and what you don’t know. In the US there are specialists in every channel: You Tube specialists, social specialists, QR code specialists. Looking at one of the biggest and most successful full-service performance agencies in he US, they sell themselves as “a truly converged agency” . They offer Creative (TV & digital), Media (TV & digital – PPC, social, e-mail), Commerce – web development, marketplace (e.g. Amazon & TikTok) management and Analytics – tracking and attribution.

Conclusion: Whilst we recognise the US media market is different to the UK, there are many similarities in consumer behaviour and US companies like Meta, Google, Amazon, dominate our digital landscape. It makes sense therefore to be aware of the direction of travel in the US. Whilst press advertising remains central to what we do, Lavery Rowe TV and LR Digital we are already helping our clients future-proof their businesses and take advantage of the latest developments in TV and Digital.

To find out more about how we can help your business grow speak to your Account Manager or contact:

Paul Payne – Director – 07973 344425 –

Andy Mcdouall – Head of TV – 07725 573204

Ben Cleaver – Head of Digital – 07375853241 –