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Ecommerce glossary > Direct-to-consumer advertising

Direct-to-consumer advertising

What is direct-to-consumer advertising?

Direct-to-consumer advertising (also referred to as DTC advertising) is the marketing of products or services directly to potential customers. Typically, direct-to-consumer advertising refers to marketing efforts made in industries where a middleman is involved. However, with the growing direct-to-consumer ecommerce movement, this term is sometimes used more broadly to describe the marketing and advertising efforts of any brand that is directly enticing consumers to purchase.

Examples of DTC advertising

In the traditional sense of the term, one of the most common examples of direct-to-consumer advertising is in the pharmaceutical industry, where drug manufacturers try to reach consumers with prescription drug advertising. With these prescription drug ads, the goal for pharmaceutical companies is to use their direct-to-consumer ads to educate consumers about their products and start a conversation between patients and their physicians, since a prescription from a physician is required to make the sale. Other examples of DTC advertising include diagnostic tests and financial services, or ads that aim to target consumers directly, rather than big-box retailers who purchase, then sell the products themselves.