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Direct response ads have several distinguishable characteristics that make them unique compared to image ads. First, they’re trackable. That is, when someone contacts you for information or to place an order, you are able to determine exactly which ad in which media they responded to. 


Second, they’re measurable. Since you know which ads are being responded to and how many contacts you receive from each one, you can measure which ads are the most effective, and which ads need to be changed or dropped.


Third, direct response ads are accountable. Your ads are very similar to your sales staff. In fact, advertising can really be considered “salesmanship in print” (or voice, depending on the media used). Your sales people and staff member are accountable to you for what they do and how they produce.


Likewise, your advertising should be accountable as well. If an ad or marketing campaign isn’t producing, you want to know so you can make intelligent decisions as to whether to continue running the ad as is, making changes to it, or discontinuing the ad altogether.

A fourth characteristic of direct response ads is that they give you immediate feedback. Because your ads have a built-in response mechanism, you can determine very quickly how effective they are. 

Image ads, on the other hand, don’t allow for this valuable information, and most often you’ll never know whether or not an inquiry or purchase was made as a result of someone seeing your ad. About the only way you can determine this, is by asking each prospect or customer who buys, how they heard about you.

Some additional distinctive characteristics of direct response ads are, they…

  1. Use attention getting headlines
  2. Make an irresistible offer
  3. Provide a simple method of responding to, or taking advantage of the offer
  4. Place a time or quantity limit on the offer
  5. Use tracking codes to determine the response rate of the ad