Nov 06

Response October: Autobytel Aspires, Columnists’ Desires, and Yogi Inspires

Response October 2015After a hectic October, a week full of prepping and planning for year’s end and — I can’t believe I’m saying this already — Response Expo, I finally have a chance on this Friday afternoon to take a look back at Response‘s October issue. For years, we’ve covered the automotive marketing space with a general feature in October, so we’re happy that our cover story on Autobytel, which had been in planning and prep for about 3-4 months, fell into this issue as well. Beyond those features, you’ll also catch our semi-annual media buying and planning guide, a DRMA Spotlight Update, and — as usual — our regular array of research and industry opinion. Let’s touch on some of the key pieces.

  • My first connection to the eventual Autobytel cover feature on Jeff Coats came during a May trip to Las Vegas covering another story for the magazine. There, I met Benjamin Hunting, a freelance writer with a presence in the automotive journalism space, who also does some editing work for Autobytel. A month or so later, Ben connected me with PR contact Jennifer Lange, to whom I pitched a feature on Autobytel’s multichannel, performance-driven campaigns — in both the B2B and B2C realms. It was a natural fit for us, geographically, as well — Autobytel’s offices are less than five miles from those of Response. From there, the interview and photo shoot pulled together fairly smoothly, and the piece is very intriguing from both a historical and current perspective. If you missed the link to the cover story above, here it is again: An Automotive Matchmaker
  • Tony BesasieOur latest DRMA Spotlight Update checked back in with Cannella Response Television and its president, Tony Besasie. The company is celebrating 30 years in business in 2015, but that’s far from the most noteworthy thing happening in its Burlington, Wis., and Los Angeles offices. Besasie and the company’s leadership are looking ahead, with a vision based on the current status of the TV and video advertising space — and its future. If you missed the link above, here’s your chance to hear from one of the DRMA’s leading member companies: 30 Years in, Cannella Response Television Keeps Looking Ahead
  • October was another heavy month for submitted opinion columns from industry experts in the mag, with a half-dozen takes on topics as widespread as doing business based on fear or love to the power (and folly) of self-assumed titles. However, two columns again stuck out as crucial conversation starters: Sean Fay of Seattle-based Envision Response wrote about how consumers’ mental triggers can be pulled in very similar ways by both digital and TV performance-based marketing campaigns. Even more provocatively, in a column that had its origins in a rollicking lunch conversation in New York in June, Tina Messina of Scripps Networks contends the term “direct response” simply isn’t carrying its weight anymore in the TV media sales space and asks readers, “What would you call it?” at the end of a well-written, and well-argued, piece.
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap returns to long-form DRTV for second-quarter 2015 results — and things are pretty much status quo. For the 11th consecutive quarter, long-form DRTV billings slipped — this time by 10.3 percent, marking the lowest 2Q spend since 2004. Though most of the news was predictably dour for the space, one slight positive did arise — cable pricing for a half-hour slot finally dropped after remaining stubbornly high throughout 2014. This helped the cable outlet gain market share, and likely helped the quarter’s total spend from falling even more precipitously. For a more in-depth look at 2Q 2015 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: 2Q 2015 Long-Form DRTV Billings Slide Again
  • Yogi Berra Finally, as a lifelong baseball fan, October is always a special time. When Hall of Famer Yogi Berra passed away on Sept. 22, he not only left behind a brilliant baseball career, but also some of the most memorable — and confusing — quotes uttered by a public figure during the past five decades. That confluence — the time of year and Berra’s “way” with malapropisms — provided all the inspiration I needed for my October Editor’s Note column. One quote, in particular, seemed perfectly fitting for the current state of the overcrowded digital marketing space — and gave me a chance to riff on the continuing opportunities in offline media for marketers of all stripes — even Yankee pinstripes. If you missed the link to the column above, here it is once again: Berra’s Wit and Wisdom Can Benefit Today’s Marketers

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Nov 05

2015 Pac-12 Picking the Winners Recap: October

Welcome to my second monthly recap of my 2015 “Picking the Winners” Pac-12 preview (which has appeared annually on for the past decade or so). My first recap, on Sept. 30, covered September’s results. And I’ll take a complete look back in a post-season, pre-bowl overview in December. If you missed my picks in the feature story, here’s the link:

15th Annual ‘Picking the Winners’ Pac-12 Preview

My October mark of 17-9, upped my overall record for the season to 49-18 (.731). Arizona‘s struggles and USC‘s upheaval (and Washington taking advantage of both), along with Washington State‘s emergence were my main nemeses. Let’s see how things shook out — my best picks, my worst picks, and how my preseason expectations for each team compared with the month’s reality.

Week 5

Best Pick

  • Oregon over Colorado (picked 54-24; actual 41-24)

Worst Pick

  • UCLA over Arizona State, 30-28 (actual: Arizona State 38, UCLA 23)

As we moved more completely into the conference season, the realities of this year’s teams start to really shake out vs. the expectations we were all working with before the season. So, though I picked three of four games correctly on the week of October 3, the closest I got to an actual score/margin was Oregon‘s 17-point win at Colorado — and even that score is affected by the Ducks’ struggles and Colorado’s improvement. In my other wins, I had Stanford beating Arizona by 17 (the Cardinal won by 38) and California by three TDs over Washington State (the six-point margin looked much less confusing by the end of October).

And, let’s be honest: that worst pick, my only loss on the week, was maybe more shocking after what led up to UCLA‘s match-up with Arizona State in Pasadena than it seemed before the season began. The Bruins were riding high at 4-0, and the Devils, at 2-2, were coming off a whipping in Tempe at the hands of USC. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Week 6

Best Picks

  • Utah over California (picked 38-31; actual 30-24)
  • Arizona over Oregon State (picked 45-17 actual 44-7)
  • Arizona State over Colorado (picked 42-27; actual 48-23)

Worst Picks

  • Oregon over Washington State, 57-20 (actual: Washington State 45, Oregon 38 — 2OT)
  • USC over Washington, 44-24 (actual: Washington 17, USC 12)

This was a very Jekyll-and-Hyde week for me, as my three wins were all actually pretty solid picks in relation to final score and/or margin — led clearly by my choice of Utah in a tight home victory over Cal.

However, those two bad picks were on the “wow” level, as Oregon‘s early season slide merged with Washington State‘s continuing emergence in Eugene. Meanwhile, in one of the worst football games I’ve ever seen in person, a so-so Washington team outlasted seemingly disinterested USC on a Thursday night in L.A. Of course, with the upheaval in the USC program that came just days later, the Trojans’ performance seems less odd in retrospect.

Week 7

Best Picks

  • Washington State over Oregon State (picked 35-27; actual 52-31)
  • Stanford over UCLA (picked 34-24; actual 56-35)

Worst Picks

  • Arizona State over Utah, 33-27 (actual: Utah 34, Arizona State 18)
  • USC over Notre Dame, 38-28 (actual: Notre Dame 41, USC 31)

My worst week of the year so far (3-3) really showcased the changing realities in the 2015 season mentioned earlier. Washington State? Better than expected. Utah? Way up! Arizona State? Down. USC? In turmoil. Colorado? Not quite ready to pull the big upset. Stanford? Turning into a playoff contender. UCLA? Injuries destroying its defense.

Week 8

Best Picks

  • UCLA over California (picked 41-24; actual 40-24)
  • USC over Utah (picked 27-13; actual 42-24)
  • Stanford over Washington (picked 37-7; actual 31-14)

Worst Pick

  • Arizona over Washington State, 40-20 (actual: Washington State, Arizona 42)

Man, soooooo close on that UCLACal pick! Getting so close on that one was a positive precursor to one of the better 3-2 weeks you can have. I had USC over Utah by 14 in preseason — and Utah over USC by 15 in my weekly preview for The Trojans, though, rose from their apparent collective grave to whip the stunned Utes and the final margin landed awfully close to my initial call. On the other end of the spectrum, Mike Leach’s Washington State club pulled off its latest road shocker, this time in Tucson — blowing my preseason choice right out of the water like a cannon-shot to a pirate ship.

Week 9

Best Picks

  • Utah over Oregon State (picked 33-17; actual 27-12)
  • USC over California (picked 42-34; actual 27-21)

Worst Pick

  • Arizona over Washington, 38-28 (actual: Washington 49, Arizona 3)

My best week of October was its final week, as I correctly picked five out of six outcomes. And, by margin of victory, I had two of my best choices of the season: Utah over Oregon State by 16 (final margin: 15) and USC over California by eight (final margin: six).

However, Washington really gave me my money’s worth out of that single loss: a 56-point swing from pick to reality, as the Huskies had their best performance of 2015 against a floundering Arizona club.

October Expectations vs. Reality

With nine incorrect picks, once again there’s plenty of shakeup when looking at my expectations for each squad vs. the reality. Let’s start from the Pacific Northwest and head down the coast before curling back inland.

  • Washington (picked 0-4, 0-4 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): The Huskies scored two unexpected victories over expected South Division contenders USC and Arizona.
  • Washington State (picked 1-4, 1-4 in Pac-12; reality 3-2, 3-2): Only a late Stanford comeback kept the resurgent Cougars from winning four of five in October.
  • Oregon State (picked 1-3, 1-3 in Pac-12; reality 0-4, 0-4): My only miss on Oregon State so far this season: picking them to beat Colorado at home. Instead, the Buffs broke a 14-game conference losing streak and a 13-game conference road losing streak.
  • Oregon (picked 4-0, 4-0 in Pac-12; reality 3-1, 3-1): Another victim of surprising Washington State. The Ducks finished the month with a dramatic OT win at Arizona State. Can they ride the momentum from that through season’s end?
  • California (picked 1-3, 1-3 in Pac-12; reality 1-3, 1-3): I called for an October downturn for the Bears — and got all four of their games correct. My only mistake on Cal’s schedule remains picking a loss in its eventual one-point win at Texas.
  • Stanford (picked 4-0, 4-0 in Pac-12; reality 4-0, 4-0): Nailed it!
  • UCLA (picked 3-1, 3-1 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): That ASU loss really was a stunner, even with the Bruins’ injury problems.
  • USC (picked 4-0, 3-0 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-1 ): With the Sark episode mixed into the middle of one of the toughest stretches in USC’s schedule (@ Notre Dame, Utah, @ Cal), it’s no shock that the Trojans suffered a couple of unexpected losses. While there’s no shame losing in South Bend, Sark’s last game — the loss to Washington — was brutal.
  • Arizona State (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): Always fun to see the pick match the reality, isn’t it? No, it’s not. ASU’s stunner over UCLA was the hiccup, and by the time it rolled around, the Devils loss at Utah wasn’t much of a shock.
  • Arizona (picked 3-2, 3-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-3, 2-3): While I wasn’t exactly a buyer of the idea that Arizona would, once again, challenge for the South Division crown (see my preseason pick of Colorado over the Wildcats), I really didn’t expect them to fall to both of the Washington schools.
  • Utah (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 3-1, 3-1): Without USC’s win over the Utes, I’d have really struggled with my Utah picks this month!
  • Colorado (picked 1-4, 1-4 in Pac-12; reality 1-4, 1-4): Like ASU, the matching results reflect a pair of misses. That will happen when you try to hand-pick the right “upset” (in this case, over Arizona — which didn’t happen) for a team that’s struggled for years.

Enjoy this weekend’s games!

Oct 02

Response September: Performance-Based or Bust

Response September 2015With Response‘s October issue wrapped and off to the printer today — and a biz trip to Vegas in the cards for next week — today’s the perfect time to put together my personal recap of the magazine’s September issue. Always one of our bigger issues of the year, September is led by a piece on the multifaceted integrated marketing programs at Bridgestone Americas, the world’s largest tire company, and includes the annual State of the Industry Report, as well as a series of solid contributed columns — all speaking to the expansion of the performance-based marketing universe. The expansion is so rapid and diverse, honestly, that we decided to update our cover tagline beginning with this issue. Yes, Response is now “The Magazine for Performance-Based Marketers.”

  • In May, I received a press release from Cassie Jones, a senior account executive at PadillaCRT, the public relations agency for Bridgestone. The release touted a then-upcoming TV campaign for its new DriveGuard tires that starred actor/comedian Will Arnett, perhaps best known for his character Gob Bluth on the hit TV show “Arrested Development.” I responded to Cassie, inquiring about the campaign and its overall fit in any direct, digital, or data-driven efforts underway by the Bridgestone marketing team. All credit goes to Cassie for listening to what our readers want from Response and producing an interview in late June with Amber Holm and Scott Palubinsky, talking about how performance-based metrics are becoming crucial to not only Bridgestone’s tire sales, but also for its 2,200 retail stores under the Tires Plus, Wheel Works, and Firestone Complete Auto Care brands. If you missed the link to the cover story above, here it is again: The Rubber Meets the Road
  • In the print and digital pages of Response, readers were able to hear a cross-section of answers from members of our Advisory Board as part of the magazine’s 20th annual State of the Industry Report. However, one of the best parts of our online edition is the opportunity to expand on such stories. For years now, we’ve been able to present the full, unabridged answers from all of our Advisory Board members who choose to take part in the story to each question. This version is no different. So, if you’ve read the print version and were left wanting more, click the link now to read the extended, Web-exclusive version of the story: Response Magazine’s 20th Annual State of the Industry Report
  • On a monthly basis, we run somewhere between two and six submitted columns from experts in the industry. These pieces are designed to share thought leadership from those who do the work of the performance-based marketing world on a daily basis, touching on hot topics and providing crucial tips and tricks for our readers. The September issue was no different — other than the fact that, from my perspective as the person who assigns and edits each and every one of these submissions, we were lucky to have a couple of exceedingly strong viewpoints. Doug Garnett of Portland, Ore.-based Atomic Direct (and a long-time Advisory Board member) touched on how DRTV is a boon for online businesses, while Venable LLP‘s Jeff Knowles and Ellen Berge gave readers the lowdown on new EMV credit card technology and how it could cause a burst of fraudulent activity in card-not-present processing. (Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a shout to the Washington, D.C., law firm’s practice group development manager Chuck Wilkins, whose help has been invaluable to Response‘s editorial efforts over the years).
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap takes a look at the first DR radio results of 2015. Those results maintained a recently positive trend for the market, showing a minor 1.6-percent increase over results from the same time frame in 2014. Lately, with recent DRTV billings struggling, it’s been refreshing to get around to the radio results each quarter. This quarter is no different, as a small jump in the total number of radio campaigns and increased spending on small-to-mid-level campaigns point to a strengthening marketplace. For a more in-depth look at 1Q 2015 DR radio media billings, click here: 1Q 2015 DR Radio Media Billings Stay Positive
  • Last but not least: not only do I own up to playing fantasy football for the past two decades in my September Editor’s Note column, I’m able to link that to the incredible expansion of weekly fantasy sports, brought to you on your TV nightly by businesses like DraftKings and FanDuel. What do these recently valued billion-dollar entities see in the combination of short-form DRTV and their fully digital product? And what does their ubiquitous advertising mean for the performance-based marketing business? If you missed the link to the column above, here it is once again: Fantasy-Level Media Investments Signal Huge Opportunities

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!