opinion

Pay to Play

Stephen Yagielowicz
Recently I encountered an interesting marketing twist, where, as a new DirecTV subscriber, I was offered the chance to visit the "rebates" page on the company's website, in order to select the rebate offer that I wanted.

My choices were simple, or so it seemed: I could either receive a $21/month discount on my bill for a year (highlighted at the top of the page) or receive a $16/month discount (not as well emphasized and at the bottom of the page).

Clearly, most consumers hitting this page would select the $21/month rebate and feel quite good about the savings.

Personally, I can't recall ever being offered a choice in the type or amount of the rebate being offered by a merchant, so I looked at the offer more closely: why would anyone want to choose a $16 monthly discount instead of a $21 discount — and what was the difference (if any)? Was it an issue of service contract length, or (no porn pun intended), my package size?

No, it was a matter of whether or not I wanted to receive promotional emails from DirecTV and its various marketing partners.

They'll pay you $5 a month to spam you — which at that point, it's hard to call it spam, since you not only asked for it, but you're getting paid to take it.

While most companies simply add an opt-in checkbox that they hope you'll either check, or leave pre-checked, this company is incentivizing consumers to become part of their advertising chain in a way that has to be beneficial to advertisers who get highly-targeted prospects; to DirecTV which is earning ad revenues; and to the consumer who is paid for viewing (or at least receiving) the mailings.

I get enough unwanted email as it is, thank you; and my fear of just how many ads these guys might feel that $5 justifies, combined with my lack of desire for dealing with spam, made me choose the lower rebate amount.

No doubt, I am in the minority in choosing this option; and while my inbox is lighter, I can imagine that DirecTV's coffers are heavier from this deal and the ad revenues it must be generating.

Perhaps there's a way you might incorporate such tiered discount offers in your operation such as on cancel pages and emails?

Make it fair, compelling and put the option you want customers to choose in big bold print at the top of the page — the results may add significantly to your bottom line.

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