About Tom

Ad industry magazine editor, online sports columnist, known ranter, USC '94, all-around swell guy.
Jun 11

Response May: Curiosity, Technology, Humility

Response‘s May issue was a little slow in developing, as we wanted to make sure we got full post-show coverage of MTC Expo included. However, it’s been online for about three weeks and likely landed in mailboxes right before the month’s end. The issue’s cover story centers on an interview with SurveyMonkey‘s Sun Lee. Our biannual media buying and planning guide takes a look at the ad opportunities being created by content providers and distributors in a dawning age of connected TV, and is backed by our annual Cable Network Directory, which features contact and demo info from more than 150 TV outlets. Due to space constraints, our quarterly technology spotlight piece became a Web Exclusive, and is worth a look. Let’s take a deeper dive into how the May issue was built!

  • Our team’s first contact with SurveyMonkey was by freelancer Pat Cauley, who spoke to the company’s Lakshmi Hari for our January issue feature on the digital goods market. When he turned in that story last December, Pat suggested I reach out to SurveyMonkey’s PR team to gauge its interest in a possible cover feature on the company’s recent brand refresh. Working first with Irina Efremova, who passed the baton to Teresa Brewer when she went on leave and eventually connecting with the company’s Jarmila Henn and PR agency Sutherland Gold’s Samantha Spielman, we landed on Lee, the company’s VP of brand experience, as the interview subject. Forthcoming, thoughtful, and circumspect, Lee spent more than an hour answering my questions during a March phone call. What SurveyMonkey is up to using performance marketing tactics to generate leads and build brand is worth a read. If you missed the link above, click here: Curating Curiosity
  • Freelancer Bridget McCrea connected with leaders from DISH, Hulu, MeTV, and Havas Edge for the spring edition of our media buying and planning guide. The usual buzzwords surrounding TV media are here — addressable, programmatic, etc. However, there’s also talk about the growing use of 5-minute blocks, as well as the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic space. Here’s the link, once again: Ahead of the Curve
  • As part of our spring media package, our annual Cable Network Directory — featuring contact and demo info not only from the major cable nets, but also broadcast, satellite, and other outlets — grew to its largest size yet with more than 150 outlets represented this year. It’s a treasure trove of info sure to come in handy for any performance marketer considering TV. Bookmark this link: 2018 Cable Network Directory
  • Artificial intelligence (AI). T-commerce. Voice search. Freelancer Doug McPherson dove into some of the newest technologies being used by marketers and media outlets to expand their reach among consumers. Due to space constraints, the story was held from the print edition, but given its topicality, it’s perfect as a Web Exclusive! The link, again: Tech on Deck
  • Fourth-quarter 2017 short-form DRTV media billings take center stage in our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research. Though the quarter saw a hefty $139.6 million dip,  total-year 2017 short-form results remained in the black, finishing more than $222 million ahead of 2016’s annual total. By finishing the year with $2.85B in spending, short-form DRTV posted its best results in three years. For a full look at 4Q 2017 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: A Fourth-Quarter Dip, but Short-Form Billings Finish Best Year Since 2014
  • John Yarrington and I congratulate Havas Edge CEO Steve Netzley on his induction to the DR Hall of Fame on April 26.

    Don’t miss the extensive MTC Expo recap: here, here, and here.

  • The May issue also includes a pair of contributed columns:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column riffs off of our publisher John Yarrington‘s opening remarks prior to the keynote event at April’s MTC Expo. Yarrington spoke about — and showed how leaders — overcome their fears with humility in order to drive change and advancement. The ideas deserve another reflection. Here’s that link to the column one more time: Overcoming Fear, Becoming Leaders

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

May 21

Response April: An Exercise in Synergy

Landing online just prior to last month’s MTC Expo, Response‘s April issue was chock full of the kind of editorial tie-ins that we’re happy to feature at that event. The cover story — an interview with the Safelite Group‘s Renee Cacchillo — was backed in San Diego with an appearance by Bruce Millard, Safelite’s VP of digital and customer innovation. A media spotlight feature on TV’s advancing technology includes thoughts from three more Expo speakers: Nutrisystem‘s Lauren Mitchell, DISH Media SalesScott Berger, and Hulu‘s Michaela Giovengo. THOR AssociatesFern Lee — who took the Expo stage twice in San Diego, once as a moderator and once as an inductee to the DR Hall of Fame — and Koeppel Direct‘s Peter Koeppel (who helmed a sponsored DRMA Learning Annex session) serve as sources for our story on the financial services marketing space. And, speaking of the Hall of Fame induction, which took place on April 26 in San Diego, our fourth feature in this issue is a roundtable featuring all seven 2018 inductees. Looking for more information on how this issue came together? Read on!

  • The genesis of what became the cover story on Safelite — c’mon, sing the jingle with me … “Safelite repair, Safelite replace!” — was an email conversation with the company’s PR contact in the run-up to Response Expo 2017. Yes, sometimes the process takes a bit. After letting the contact go cold until last fall, I reached out to a new Safelite contact, Katie Salvator. Prior to her departure from the company earlier this year, not only did Katie work hard to get me squared away for this interview with Renee, but also got the ball rolling on bringing Millard in to speak at the Expo. As we went through the process, the company’s director of communications, Keriake Lucas, also jumped in to lend a helping hand. The whole team at Safelite was outstanding to work with and Cacchillo provided incredible depth to her comments during the interview. All in all, it’s one of my favorite pieces of the past year. If you missed the link above, click here: A Clear View
  • Freelancer Bridget McCrea handled our 2Q media spotlight feature, which dives into the expanding world of TV and how consumers’ demands on marketers — and those delivering content — are driving technological change. With thoughts from marketers, media agencies, technology providers, and media outlets, the piece gives a decent snapshot of some of the options out there for marketers today — and what’s coming in the near future. That link, once again: Expanding Technology, Demanding Viewers
  • New to our freelancer team, but not the industry, Ian Murphy was a natural for our look at performance marketing in the financial services space. Banks, insurance, and other FS marketers have been long-time leaders in using the full array of performance media, and as technology accelerates change, these marketers remain at the forefront. Here’s that link again: Everything, All the Time
  • Dick Wechsler, Cathy Mitchell, Fern Lee, Keith Mirchandani, Steve Netzley, Colleen Szot, and Hal Altman celebrate their Hall of Fame induction on April 26.

    Freelancer Doug McPherson connected with all seven members of the 2018 DR Hall of Fame induction class for a special roundtable discussion. The stellar group includes Hal Altman, Fern Lee, Keith Mirchandani, Cathy Mitchell, Steve Netzley, Colleen Szot, and Dick Wechsler. The event on April 26 in San Diego featured an hour-long roundtable similar in vein to this story, as well as the sun-dappled induction event — the first time all living members of an induction class actually made it to the induction ceremony! Want to hear from these legends, but missed the link above? Here you go: A Scintillating Septet

  • Not only is Cannella Media‘s Tony Besasie a veteran Response Advisory Board member, but he’s also one of the more thoughtful media executives out there. In his company’s latest DRMA Spotlight story, Besasie riffs on “video everywhere,” attribution, data science, and the expansion of opportunity to sell products and services directly to consumers. Want more? Here you go: Leading the Evolution
  • Fourth-quarter 2017 long-form DRTV media billings are highlighted in our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research. The quarter’s $6.6 million decrease left total-year 2017 results $67 million (or 7.9 percent) short of 2016’s long-form spend. That percentage decrease is the worst since a 9.5-percent drop in 2014 — and the loss means that long-form DRTV’s market has decreased in 10 of the past 11 years. For a full look at 4Q 2017 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form Billings Wrap Another Tough Year
  • The April issue also includes three contributed columns:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column was written for the folks who joined us in San Diego, and leads with last summer’s conception of “MTC Expo.” Nine months in the making, the event ended up being as seamless from our perspective as any we’ve run during the past dozen years. And, by and large, the attendee feedback has been outstanding. If you were on hand and we haven’t chatted since the show, don’t hesitate to drop a line with your thoughts — good, bad, or otherwise. We always love hearing from our attendees. It’s the only way we can keep improving. Here’s that link to the column one more time: See You in San Diego … at the Intersection of Media, Technology, and Commerce

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Apr 06

Response March: Bubbles Only the Beginning of a Bevy of Bylines

Response March 2018Response‘s March Issue debuted in print at our DRMA Chicago Reception on March 12 and was online by that week’s end. After one planned cover story fell out in late January, we did far better than we could have expected while scrambling to backfill: the issue’s cover feature offers an interview with SodaStream‘s Matti Yahav, timely given March’s annual International Home + Housewares Show. Our inaugural commerce spotlight feature — as part of our new editorial calendar focus on quarterly updates on media, technology, and commerce — looks, of course, at Amazon. The issue also offers a story on the latest marketing shifts in the housewares and hardware markets, a Response Advisors’ Forum roundtable about the future of TV, and a DRMA Spotlight story on the changing of the guard at Lincoln Media Services. We also take a look at 3Q 2017 DR radio media billings, and four contributed columns share some solid opinions. Here’s how the issue came together.

  • After losing my scheduled March cover story in late January, I started scouring our research partners’ rankings and listings for recent campaigns having success in the housewares space. We always try to get a housewares marketer on the cover in March due to the Housewares show and our long-term tradition of hosting a networking event during the show. SodaStream was one name that popped up a number of times that afternoon, and after searching for the company’s press releases, I came across a PR contact with a familiar name — Stephanie Goldman of The Pollack Group. Turns out, as Stephanie noted in her quick response to my email query, that the name was familiar because we’d done some work together during her time at Steinreich Communications, another New York-area agency. The good fortune that strikes when you network, eh? Stephanie and the SodaStream team were excited about the possibility and the story is one that ended up focused on the marketer’s brand refresh as an environmentally conscious, healthy sparkling water brand. Before I go on any more, if you missed the link above, click here: A Sparkling Success
  • Freelancer Pat Cauley handled our first commerce spotlight feature, which looks at how different marketers are attacking the opportunity to drive brand and sales on the behemoth that is Amazon. From an independent start-up, to an established As Seen On TV marketer, to a broker that groupsindependent products under its own Amazon shop, the piece shares a bit of what marketers can expect when trying to sell on Amazon today. Want to hear more from these folks? You can, at MTC Expo on Wednesday, April 25 at 3:20 p.m., in a session entitled Making Amazon Work. For now, though, if you missed the link: Unpacking Amazon
  • Our freelancer Bridget McCrea takes a dive into the housewares and hardware spaces — long-time evergreens for direct-to-consumer success. What’s affecting them today? Well, Amazon (of course) plays a
    Raised Chicago March 2018

    The view from our DRMA Chicago Reception on March 12.

    major role, but so too does the country’s real estate and housing boom. What’s working and what’s not? Here’s that link again: ‘Wares in Demand … Everywhere

  • Seven members of our Response Advisory Board responded to a set of questions about the future of television in our first quarterly Advisors’ Forum of 2018. Addressability, shifting video consumption, industry consolidation, SVOD providers’ investments in content — all of these topics and more are discussed in the online version, which features our advisors complete and unabridged answers. Miss the link? Here you go: Far From Crystal Clear
  • With Amanda Jones taking the helm from founder (and father) Gary Jones, the time was right to catch up with the team at DRMA-member company Lincoln Media Services for a DRMA Spotlight story. Gary Jones, who founded the media business two decades ago, is ready to focus on his long-time interest in aviation, but he’s been working with Amanda to prepare her to take the company’s reins for a number of years. What does the transition mean? Find out: From Father to Daughter, 2 Decades of Success
  • Third-quarter 2017 DR radio media billings are highlighted in our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research. For the third consecutive quarter, our partner Kantar Media says the radio space slipped, this time by a surprising 42.6 percent, leaving DR radio with its lowest third-quarter spend in four years. Continuing losses in the local radio sector remain concerning. For a full look at 3Q 2017 DR radio media billings, click here: Third Quarter Is 2017’s Worst Yet for DR Radio Billings
  • The March issue also offers a quartet of contributed columns:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column jumps from a pair of divergent customer service experiences during my recent travels. The idea: how one good — or bad — experience can change a customer’s perspective, for a long time to come. Interested? Click here: A Single Experience Can Lose a Long-Time Customer, or Gain a New One

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!