CBS Spot Plus uses Gemstar's VCR Plus codes so viewers can set their VCRs to record 5-, 10-, 15- and 30-minute infomercials aired by CBS stations late at night.
The infomercials are promoted via regular 30-second commercials followed by 15-second promo tags during normal dayparts, including prime time. Viewers are alerted to set their VCRs to tape the long-form spots.
CBS announced the program last fall but was unsure of viewer response until now.
On March 9 and 10, CBS ran its first Spot Plus flight, a campaign for TriStar Pictures' "Guarding Tess."
The TriStar campaign included a full schedule of spots on KCBS in Los Angeles and ads in the Los Angeles Times inviting viewers to tape a 10-minute preview of the movie. The infomercial provided an 800-number and an incentive to call: a chance to win movie tickets for two.
Through the first five days of the contest, CBS got some 1,400 calls, an impressive response considering KCBS' rating for the time period, 2:05 a.m., was only a 0.8, or about 41,000 TV homes in the Los Angeles area.
That translates to a 3.4% response rate, comfortably above the direct response industry norm of 1% to 3%. The results do not include viewers who saw the infomercial but chose not to enter the contest.
About 75% of the calls to the 800-number were from viewers who watched the infomercial on tape, said Philip Press, VP-sales and marketing for the CBS Television Stations.
"We needed to determine how many people would actually take the time to videotape an infomercial that you direct them toward," Mr. Press said.
Mr. Press said all CBS-owned stations are participating in the program and that each is close to breaking major campaigns using Spot Plus. The program is targeting ad categories that rely on long-form marketing messages.
"You can't sell computer software in 30 seconds, but you can sell it in 5 or 10 minutes," Mr. Press said.