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Two Approaches to Get Mass Tort Cases with TV Advertising

y Adam Warren

In our first blog from our three part series, we discussed the choice of running a branded campaign for your law firm on national television versus running a generic campaign.  Now let’s focus on two popular, yet vastly different means for getting your commercial to air.

Option 1: Cash Buy

The cash buy or traditional media acquisition is what most lawyers believe is the only way to get your ad on television through national or local media. The way it works is simple. You (or your advertising agency) negotiate rates, schedules, spot frequency and broadcast dates to run on national cable, national or local broadcast and local cable. A client or agency would pay for the campaign in advance of airing and watch for the media mix to generate phone calls or other desired response once the campaign is live.

[sws_pullquote_right]The key benefit of buying media upfront is you can have greater control. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Depending on how long the “flight range” is (i.e. 1 week, 2 weeks, 2 months), there may be time to maximize the schedule. Maximizing the returns of a schedule is managed by reducing or pulling airings from underperforming media and increasing airings in media where response levels and conversion are high. The longer a campaign runs, the more effective it can become as the media buying firm is able to adjust the schedule based on where the campaign is performing.

It’s important that when putting a media buy schedule together, especially in mass tort cases, that one does not under invest.  This can actually end up costing lawyers more money while acquiring fewer cases if they do not place an adequate schedule when acquiring media and calls traditionally.

The key benefit of buying media upfront is you can have greater control on where and when the ad runs. For example, many firms struggle to take calls to their regular call center during late night and week end hours. One could target their cash buy to avoid times of day where their inbound call center is closed. This way lawyers will know ahead of time the approximate rotation or run of schedule (“ROS”) the commercial will run so you can staff accordingly.

Standard day parts considered for ROS would be:

  • Late Fringe 12-1am
  • Post Late Fringe or Overnights: 1am-7am
  • Early Morning 730am-10am
  • Daytime 10am-4pm
  • Early Fringe 430pm-730pm
  • Prime Access: 730pm-9pm
  • Prime Time: 9pm-11pm
  • Late News: 11pm-12m


The increased risk with this model is that the financial onus is on YOU, the advertiser.  You pay the same amount whether the phone rings zero times or 100 times when that spot airs.  If there is a severe deficit in the cash buying strategy of cost of schedule to packet out or case acquisition, the agency will or should endeavor to acquire additional bonus spots (also called no-charges) but those are not guaranteed and should not be part of the assumed strategy.

Option 2: Performance Driven Media

[sws_pullquote_right]The benefit of this model is that the financial onus is taken off the attorney and placed on the media’s side. [/sws_pullquote_right]

Media will have unsold inventory, whether they admit it or not. In fact, thousands of pockets of unsold inventory (otherwise referred to as “avails”) are open for performance driven media every day. The networks do not like to talk about it because it will affect the integrity of their “rate card” therefore this media is left to be allocated to a select group of firms that have proven trustworthy and shown substantial return on investment over an adequate period of time .

Very few agencies (OpenJar Concepts, Inc./the Sentinel Group being among them) have unique arrangements with the media that allow them to run their client’s commercials on a performance driven basis.  You only pay for the calls that come in as a result of the commercial airing.  Therefore in this case, if 100 spots air and you get no calls, there is no cost. However, nobody should want to see this happen as media is very savvy and will quickly depart from a performance driven campaign that lacks return-on-investment (ROI).

The benefit of this model is that the financial onus is taken off the attorney and placed on the media’s side. If they can’t make the phone ring, you don’t pay. Another benefit is that you have a fixed cost per call and your commercial will end up airing many more times than it would if you were buying cash up front.

24/7 call center

The fact of the matter is that in a performance setting, the media landscape is so diverse and so vast that it would be impossible to buy and manage it.  The low touch nature of this business in terms of allowing media to essentially “set it and forget” benefits them and the agency.

Some agencies will attempt to work with media on a more frequent basis to help maximize the schedules being placed as well as the specific campaigns to help create better quality of call for the client and better ROI for the media.  Proprietary systems such as OpenJar/TSG’s TrafTrack® can be instrumental in the management to a campaign’s success.

The challenge and demand to this type of marketing is that the networks make it mandatory that you have a 24/7 call center strategy in place. The vast majority of the clearance happens during the 6am – 7pm (PST) time frame with a lesser percentage happening in the overnights and weekends. The additional challenge is that the networks do not disclose when and where the spot will run which makes targeting difficult. All clearances and media outlets participate on a non-disclosure basis.

Some law firms use both of these models simultaneously (also referred to as a hybrid approach).  Whichever you choose to do, be clear in what you are agreeing to.

a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Adam Warren is President and Co-Founder of OpenJar Concepts®, Inc. and its mass torts division The Sentinel Group™, a full service, direct response marketing and technology company in Temecula, CA, that offers lead generation campaigns on national TV, radio, print and mobile.

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