Dec 23

Response December: Boingo, Radio, and Creating a Better Conversation

Response December 2015I’m closing up shop for the holidays here at Response today — and one of the last things on my to-do list is this blog post recapping our recently delivered December issue. It’s a pretty power-packed edition of the magazine, with our cover feature on Boingo Wireless, stories on the consumer electronics space, the advancement of over-the-top (OTT) TV, a second annual look at the 2016 media calendar, and a Web exclusive feature on DR radio. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the issue!

  • In a fortuitous bit of personnel change, long-time Response PR contact Lauren de la Fuente (formerly of Pearl Street Marketing) joined L.A.-based Boingo, a global leader in enhancing wireless access for consumers, during the summer. After chatting through the early fall, it became clear that a cover feature on the business’ B-to-C and B-to-B marketing efforts would make a lot of sense for our readers. I visited the company’s new digs near Brentwood in late October for an in-person interview with CMO Dawn Callahan and VP of consumer marketing Scott Ewalt — as personable and thoughtful a duo as I’ve come across in recent times. Boingo’s marketing story is much deeper than I imagined from my touches with their services as a consumer — if you travel half as much as I do, you’ve experienced Boingo’s wireless services at an airport. If you missed the link above, and want to read more about the business, click here: A Spring in Their Steps
  • For the second year in a row, we’ve teamed up with Irvington, N.Y., media agency Lockard & Wechsler Direct to take a look at the 2016 media calendar. Chock full of the biggest TV events for marketers of all types to consider, the timeline also includes analysis from Eddie Wilders, LWD’s senior vice president of research and analytics. Eddie’s done2016 stellar work for Response over the years, contributing in the past to our E-newsletters and website. His expertise works well with this timeline piece. If you missed the link above but want to check it out, click here: ‘You Are Looking Live …’
  • A piece that got held from the print edition for space, our Web exclusive on DR radio talks about a media outlet that’s been discounted by marketers in recent years but that’s enjoying a major comeback due to its reach and technological expansion. Leaders in the space — and impartial analysts — are all saying the same thing: radio’s audience is bigger than ever and its segmentation allows marketers to drill down to reach certain demographics even more clearly than TV. If you missed the link above, click here: Radio Rising
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap backs up the positive vibes in our radio feature, as DR radio’s 2015 second-quarter results were the outlet’s best in eight years. National spot radio, long an afterthought, saw its total billings expand 10-fold compared to 2Q 2014, helping the radio market jump more than 29 percent overall. Additionally, success in the household and drug-and-toiletry categories drove the expansion. For a full look at 2Q 2015 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Register Best 2Q Since 2007
  • Finally, in my Editor’s Note, folks who know my snarky, sarcastic side might be shocked at my end-of-the-year plea for a better informed and more collegial conversation around Response‘s content and, well, everything else online. Yes, unfortunately, “Don’t Read the Comments” has moved from an amusing aside to a hardened rule around these parts. Can we hope for better? Can we create a better conversation? As a voracious consumer of news and social media, I certainly hope so. If you missed the link above, here’s my take — and a call to action — on the topic: ‘Don’t Read the Comments’: A Commentary

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response! Happy Holidays and all the best in 2016!

Dec 21

Response November: Winners, Travelers, and Home Shoppers

Response November 2015With travel and year-end projects taking precedence, I’ve fallen behind on my Response recaps. So, this is the first of two Response-filled blog posts during Christmas week — a look at Response‘s November issue. With our DRMA Marketer of the Year event shifting to early October, our cover story on the three finalists also shifted back one month to this issue. Additionally, we covered the travel and home shopping spaces, while adding a new feature on the business solutions market — a vertical that’s growing thanks to the combination of online and offline marketing. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the issue’s top pieces.

  • In an intriguing bit of timing, DraftKings‘ victory in the annual industry-wide vote for DRMA Marketer of the Year was announced in Las Vegas on Oct. 7 — the same week that initial stories of one of its employees winning $350,000 on competitor site FanDuel surfaced. Since then, the intrigue around the two daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites has continued to build, with legal challenges slowing the companies’ advertising, but fantasy sports players continuing to flock to the services in record numbers. DraftKings was a deserving winner in the competition, as voters responded to its overwhelming TV and online marketing efforts with a similarly overwhelming number of ballots. The trio of 2015 finalists — also including SharkNinja (formerly Euro-Pro) and TELEBrands — represents, one might say, the past, present, and future of the performance-based marketing world. If you missed the link above, and want to read more about the three finalists, click here: Crowning the New ‘Kings’
  • Travel marketers have been long-time believers in direct response — well before the transition into the omnichannel, performance-based efforts that dominate today’s landscape. For years, we’ve covered this space as it exhibited leadership in how best to combine online and offline methodologies that could be effective for marketers of all types of products and services. This feature is no different, as we’ve caught up with top-level travel marketers from the resort side (Atlantis Paradise) and from the local travel bureau perspective (Nassau Paradise Island Promotions Board and If you missed the link above, click here to read how performance-based methods are driving travelers to locations around the world: Leveraging the Power of ‘Book Now’
  • Perhaps no part of the old-school direct response universe has been forced to adjust as rapidly as the home shopping space. From the leaders — HSN and QVC — to smaller start-ups, the direct connection these networks have to their viewers and shoppers has changed immensely with the expansion of digital marketing. More impressively, their embrace of this change — celebrating innovation rather than cowering in fear — should be a model for all marketers. What’s new in the space? If you missed the link above, click here: Lights, Camera … Creativity
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap returns to short-form DRTV for second-quarter 2015 results, which — thanks to some measurement changes by Kantar Media — were a bit shocking. While the quarter shows a frightening 39-percent decrease from 2Q 2014 results, the bulk of that can be ascribed to a change in rate estimates for U.S. Hispanic space. So, where the other four TV media outlets showed a more palatable 9.2-percent decrease, the Hispanic space plummeted more than $330 million. For a more in-depth explanation from Kantar and a full look at 2Q 2015 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Kantar Methodology Shift Is the Culprit in 2Q Short-Form DRTV Decrease
  • Finally, you might have noticed a recent change to the magazine’s tagline. Response is now “The Magazine for Performance-Based Marketers.” Similar changes have been made to the DRMA (“The Alliance for Performance-Based Marketers”) and Response Expo (“The Event for Performance-Based Marketers”). Why? It’s all in this month’s Editor’s Note: Join the Performance-Based Marketing Evolution

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 18

2015 Pac-12 Picking the Winners Recap: November

Taylor McNamara's TD catch capped off USC's South Division-clinching 40-21 victory over UCLA on Nov. 28

Taylor McNamara’s TD catch capped off USC’s South Division-clinching 40-21 victory over UCLA on Nov. 28

Welcome to my third and final monthly recap of my 2015 “Picking the Winners” Pac-12 preview (which has appeared annually on for the past decade or so). My first two recaps appeared on Sept. 30 (covering September results) and Nov. 5 (covering October results). If you missed my picks in the feature story, here’s the link:

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

My November mark of 18-7 (including the Pac-12 Championship game) left my overall record for the season at 67-25 (.728), matching my 2014 mark. Not counting the Pac-12 title game — which I include as a loss, since I had Oregon (not Stanford) beating USC (hmm, on second thought, should I count the North champ over USC as a win?) — half of my defeats came at the hands of a Washington State team that closed out a surprising 8-4 season. Before taking a look at the season overall, let’s see how things shook out in November — my best picks, worst picks, and how my preseason expectations for each team compared with the reality.

Week 10

Best Picks

  • USC over Arizona (picked 42-27; actual 38-30)
  • Oregon over California (picked 57-28; actual 44-28)

Worst Pick

  • Arizona State over Washington State, 41-31 (actual: Washington State 38, Arizona State 24)
  • Washington over Utah, 22-20 (actual: Utah 34, Washington 23)

A 4-2 week was marred by, of course, Washington State’s home win against the Sun Devils — after falling behind 14-0 early — and Utah‘s victory over Washington. My best picks of the week narrowly missed being even better, as the Trojans (picked by 15 over Arizona) allowed a meaningless late touchdown after leading, 38-23. And while Oregon allowed 28 points to California (as predicted), the Ducks’ offense was still finding its way a bit.

Week 11

Best Picks

  • Oregon over Stanford (picked 30-24; actual 38-36)
  • California over Oregon State (picked 52-31; actual 54-24)
  • Arizona State over Washington (picked 38-23; actual 27-17)

Worst Pick

  • UCLA over Washington State, 48-22 (actual: Washington State 31, UCLA 27)

For the fourth time in 2015, I enjoyed a one-loss week, going 5-1. Unsurprisingly, it was the Cougars who kept me from my first perfect week of the season when they scored with three seconds to play at UCLA. Among the five winners, Oregon’s “upset” at Stanford was perhaps the most surprising after how the season’s first 10 weeks had played out. Meanwhile, my pick of Cal scoring 50+ in a blowout over Oregon State came true, and I missed the correct margin by just five points in Arizona State‘s win against the Huskies.

Week 12

Best Picks

  • Oregon over USC (picked 45-35; actual 48-28)
  • Arizona State over Arizona (picked 41-34; actual 52-37)
  • Stanford over California (picked 42-20; actual 35-22)

Worst Picks

  • Oregon State over Washington, 19-17 (actual: Washington 52, Oregon State 7)
  • Colorado over Washington State, 33-30 (actual: Washington State 27, Colorado 3)
  • Utah over UCLA, 26-16 (actual: UCLA 17, Utah 9)

The weekend of Nov. 21 tied for my toughest of the season (3-3). Incredibly, I picked the week’s marquee matchup (Oregon-USC) and two rivalry games (the Territorial Cup and the Big Game) correctly, while failing on what seemed to be less attractive games . The Beavers continued to somehow be worse than I imagined. And Washington State’s demolition of Colorado toppled one of my preseason upset picks.

Week 13

Best Picks

  • California over Arizona State (picked 45-42; actual 48-46)
  • Utah over Colorado (picked 31-19; actual 20-14)

Worst Pick

  • Washington over Washington State, 28-27 (actual: Washington, 45-10)

I never would have imagined that my only perfect week of 2015 would coincide with the last full slate of the year — especially considering the number of rivalry games, what became a huge Stanford-Notre Dame matchup, and a back-and-forth shootout in Berkeley. But not only did I go 6-0 — meaning that I ended up picking all five traditional conference rivalry outcomes correctly in 2015 — but I also just missed the final score in Cal’s “Pac-12 After Dark” win over ASU.

Week 14

Pac-12 Championship: Stanford 41, USC 22 (picked Oregon over USC, 38-31)

Honestly, after what the Trojans faced during the first month-and-a-half of the 2015 campaign, I’m as stunned as you are that I picked the South Division champion correctly.

November Expectations vs. Reality

With six incorrect picks in regular season games, once again there’s plenty of shakeup when looking at my expectations for each squad. As usual, let’s start from the Pacific Northwest and head down the coast before curling back inland.

  • Washington (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): Overachieving Utah and underachieving Oregon State (even with limited expectations) helped me fail on two Husky picks.
  • Washington State (picked 0-4, 0-4 in Pac-12; reality 3-1, 3-1): The Cougars’ surprise season was reflected in three appearances in my “Worst Picks of the Week” column in November.
  • Oregon State (picked 1-3, 1-3 in Pac-12; reality 0-4, 0-4): My only miss on Oregon State in November: picking them to beat Washington at home. Instead, the Huskies led 45-0 at halftime.
  • Oregon (picked 4-0, 4-0 in Pac-12; reality 4-0, 4-0): My preseason pick of the Ducks as dominant finally came to fruition in a month where UO beat Stanford on the road and whipped USC in Eugene.
  • California (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): For a second consecutive month, I nailed all four Cal game predictions.
  • Stanford (picked 3-1, 3-1 in Pac-12; reality 3-1, 3-1): Not counting Stanford’s appearance in the Pac-12 title game (replacing my preseason pick, Oregon), I notched four correct calls on the Cardinal.
  • UCLA (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): While the pick vs. reality looks good, I shanked two Bruins’ picks, with Washington State’s improvement and Utah’s loss of Devontae Booker biting me.
  • USC (picked 3-1, 3-1 in Pac-12; reality 3-1, 3-1 ): A perfect four-for-four (five-for-five, if you want to count the Trojans’ loss in the Pac-12 championship game).
  • Arizona State (picked 3-1, 3-1 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): Yep, Washington State again.
  • Arizona (picked 1-2, 1-2 in Pac-12; reality 1-2, 1-2): A perfect month of Wildcat selections.
  • Utah (picked 2-2, 2-2 in Pac-12; reality 2-2, 2-2): More muddled results with my Ute picks, missing their Washington and UCLA outcomes.
  • Colorado (picked 1-3, 1-3 in Pac-12; reality 0-4, 0-4): Those Cougs did it to me — and the Buffs — again.

2015 Pac-12 Picks: The Final Breakdown

If you’re still with me, here’s a look back at the full season results, in comparison to my preseason picks, with errors noted.

North Division (by order of finish)

  1. Stanford: Final record — 11-2, 8-1; preseason prediction — 10-2, 7-2 (second in North). Variance: lost at Northwestern; won at USC; advanced to and won Pac-12 Championship game vs. USC.
  2. Oregon: Final record — 9-3, 7-2; preseason prediction — 12-1, 9-0 (first in North). Variance: lost vs. Utah; lost vs. Washington State; failed to advance to Pac-12 Championship game.
  3. Washington State: Final record — 8-4, 6-3; preseason prediction — 3-9, 1-8 (sixth in North). Variance: lost vs. Portland State; won at Rutgers; won at Oregon; won at Arizona; won vs. Arizona State; won at UCLA; won vs. Colorado.
  4. California: Final record — 7-5, 4-5; preseason prediction — 6-6, 4-5 (third in North). Variance: won at Texas.
  5. Washington: Final record — 6-6, 4-5; preseason prediction — 4-8, 2-7 (fifth in North). Variance: won at USC; won vs. Arizona; lost vs. Utah; won at Oregon State.
  6. Oregon State: Final record — 2-10, 0-9; preseason prediction — 4-8, 2-7 (fourth in North). Variance: lost vs. Colorado; lost vs. Washington.

South Division (by order of finish)

  1. USC: Final record — 8-5, 6-3; preseason prediction — 10-3, 7-2 (first in South). Variance: lost vs. Stanford; won at Arizona State; lost vs. Washington; lost at Notre Dame.
  2. Utah: Final record — 9-3, 6-3; preseason prediction — 7-5, 4-5 (fifth in South). Variance: won at Oregon; won vs. Arizona State; won at Washington; lost vs. UCLA.
  3. UCLA: Final record — 8-4, 5-4; preseason prediction — 8-4, 5-4 (fourth in South). Variance: won at Arizona; lost vs. Arizona State; lost vs. Washington State; won at Utah.
  4. Arizona State: Final record — 6-6, 4-5; preseason prediction — 8-4, 6-3 (second in South). Variance: lost vs. USC; won at UCLA; lost at Utah; lost at Washington State.
  5. Arizona: Final record — 6-6, 3-6; preseason prediction — 8-4, 5-4 (third in South). Variance: lost vs. UCLA; won at Colorado; lost vs. Washington State; lost at Washington.
  6. Colorado: Final record — 4-9, 1-8; preseason prediction — 6-7, 2-7 (sixth in North). Variance: lost at Hawaii; lost vs. Arizona; won at Oregon State; lost at Washington State.

In the North, I was two points from picking California’s entire season correctly. Yes, I picked Texas to beat Cal by a point — but it was the Bears who pulled off a 45-44 win, saddling me with my only incorrect selection on the Berkeley schedule. Additionally, I missed only two outcomes each on the schedules of North stalwarts Stanford and Oregon.

Unsurprisingly, my worst set of results featured Washington State, which I picked to finish in the North cellar. I failed in picking seven of the Cougs’ 12 outcomes, but one of those has to be on them — their season-opening loss to FCS-level Portland State.

Intriguingly, I had exactly four incorrect selections for all six South Division clubs, while picking the division winner (USC) correctly. However, with some minor shuffling behind the Trojans, I correctly picked five South squads for bowl eligibility.

2015 Pac-12 Bowl Picks

Finally, with a record 10 conference clubs reaching the postseason, here are my picks for each bowl, with the slate getting underway tomorrow (College Football Playoff rankings reflected).

Saturday, Dec. 19

  • Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque: Arizona 41, New Mexico 30
  • Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas: (22) Utah 23, BYU 21

Saturday, Dec. 26

  • Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso: Miami 35, Washington State 31
  • Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas: Washington 31, Southern Mississippi 21
  • Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara: UCLA 38, Nebraska 27

Tuesday, Dec. 29

  • Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth: California 42, Air Force 28

Wednesday, Dec. 30

  • National Funding Holiday Bowl, San Diego: (25) USC 24, Wisconsin 20

Friday, Jan. 1, 2016

  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, Pasadena: (6) Stanford 30, (5) Iowa 24

Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016

  • Valero Alamo Bowl, San Antonio: (15) Oregon 43, (11) TCU 37
  • Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, Phoenix: West Virginia 34, Arizona State 31

Thanks for reading. I look forward to being back for the 2016 season!