Aug 04

Response July: Digital (Focus). Digital (TV). Digital (Creative).

I decided to take a quick Friday break from working up the August and September issues of Response — summer can be a great time to catch up, after all — to recap our recently delivered (and posted) July issue. Along with this month’s cover story — an interview with Tumi/Samsonite C-level executive Charlie Cole — the issue includes features on the shifting market for entertainment content and our annual look at what’s new in the video production space. Let’s dig into how these stories — and other facets of the issue — came together.

  • July’s cover feature got its start in a conference room at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in February. There, at the eTail West event in Palm Desert, Calif., Charlie Cole — then merely chief digital offer for Tumi, who’s since added the title of global chief e-commerce officer for its parent company Samsonite — gave a presentation about his company’s digital marketing and measurement efforts during the past two years. His no-nonsense talk was impressive, and the story it told about Tumi’s efforts was one I wanted to know more about. I reached out to Cole after returning from the event to gauge his interest in a story — and he responded quickly. An open book throughout the process, Cole was one of the more refreshing cove subjects I’ve worked with in recent years. Unsurprisingly, then, the story — just a slice of how Tumi/Samsonite is tackling the great e-commerce revolution — feels like fresh air at a time when marketing and technology teams tend to find themselves at loggerheads more often than necessary. If you missed the link above, here it is once again: Digital Determination
  • What TV will look like three, five — or, god forbid, 10 — years from now is anyone’s guess. Our freelancer Nicole Urso Reed took the assignment for our annual look at marketing in the entertainment space and decided to poke around for answers to that question, as well as what those changes might mean for marketers who’ve long given TV the largest cut of their budgets. From mobile and online video to over-the-top (OTT) and video-on-demand (VOD), the possibilities are exciting. Oh, and Nicole’s headline nod to one of my favorite Dr. Dre songs certainly doesn’t hurt. In case you skipped the link above: The Next Episode
  • Those different possibilities are also driving changes across the video production space, as our freelancer Bridget McCrea continued to learn in her latest look at the production and creative space. Speaking with a half-dozen experts, McCrea finds that different ad lengths — yes, all the way up to a half-hour — still work, depending on the product, the target, and the media outlet. How are producers changing how they do things based on these opportunities? Here’s that story link again: Creative Leverage
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings enter the 2017 calendar year with a look at first-quarter long-form DRTV results. A market that’s lost ground in nine of the past 10 years started 2017 in similar fashion, dropping nearly 12 percent in comparison to its 1Q 2016 totals. However, the problem doesn’t seem to be availability of half-hour spots but rather the gaining power of the lower-cost broadcast and satellite markets at the cost of the contracting cable network sector. As cable pricing continues to fall to compete, overall spending results continue to dip. For a full look at 1Q 2017 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Start 2017 on the Wrong Foot
  • The July issue also includes a number of strong submissions in our column well:
  • My Editor’s Note column got its first inspiration from the wide array of music I listen to each day at my desk (currently playing: The Hold Steady‘s “How a Resurrection Really Feels”) and how important great songs (and great songwriting) are in my everyday life. At its essence, great songwriting is great storytelling. Somehow, in fewer than 500 words — with a well-deserved (and, sure, gratuitous) shot at “bro country” included — I get from there to a brief exposition on Response‘s ongoing transition. If you missed the link above, here it is: A Change in Focus Doesn’t Mean a Change in How We Tell Stories

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jul 11

Response June: Highmark, Direct Tech, and the Retail Revolution

Here’s hoping everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! After returning from a week in Massachusetts, visiting my wife’s family and friends, I pushed through my inbox and some other pressing matter to give myself a few moments to put together a quick recap of Response‘s June issue. While we’re still getting back on track with timing following late April’s Response Expo, the issue has been online and hitting mailboxes for more than 2 weeks now. Led by a cover story on one of Blue Cross Blue Shield‘s largest affiliates, Highmark, the issue also includes features on the wider healthcare and pharmaceuticals market and a pair of loosely connected stories: a roundtable on the vast effects of Amazon on marketers and retailers of all stripes; and our second quarterly Advisors Forum of 2017, which tackles the rapidly changing retail space. Looking for background on how these items — and more — came together? You’ve come to the right place.

  • The cover feature on Pittsburgh-based Highmark — featuring an interview with Chris Zdanowski, director, strategic marketing, senior markets, commercial markets, and retail — had its beginnings in an email pitch from Highmark’s agency, Partners + Napier, in February. Shortly thereafter, I connected with Becca Bellush, the agency’s associate director of PR and social media, who served as an outstanding liaison between the Highmark team and me. Not only was this story a pleasure to work on from start to finish, due to the accessibility of Bellush, Zdanowski, and all others involved, but it also bore out many of the concepts we’ve been talking about recently in Response. The highlighted campaign features a mix of online and offline media, has a clear and measurable goal, and maximizes back-end technology to track results. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Marketing With High Marks
  • Beyond Highmark’s success using performance-based marketing tactics, our freelancer Bridget McCrea tackled a wider look at what’s new in marketing across the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets. She found marketers, both large and small, utilizing new technology to take their messages — and more importantly, their services — directly to consumers, at the time and place they wish. From using secure, online video chat to apps that allow patients to make more informed decisions about their care, health and pharma marketers are ahead of the technological game. In case you skipped the link above: The Future of Healthcare Has Arrived — and It’s D-to-C
  • Riffing from one of our most popular sessions at Response Expo, a third feature — penned by freelancer Doug McPherson — takes a look at the many ways Amazon is changing business, from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom. We enlisted three of the speakers from that “Amazon Effect” Expo session — Jaffer Ali of PulseTV.com, Matt Fiedler of Vinyl Me, Please, and Rus Sarnoff of Integrated Marketing — to give us an overview of a few of those issues. Here’s that story link again: It’s a Jungle Out There
  • The second of our quarterly roundtables featuring members of the Response Advisory Board takes a look at the changing face of retail. Early in May, I sent a series of questions to our advisors and five leaders stepped up to share their thoughts on how brick-and-mortar and e-commerce can not only coexist but flourish as consumer desires — and their attendant habits — change. If you missed the link, it’s right here: The Changing Face of Retail
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio sector for fourth-quarter 2016 results. The radio market notched a fifth consecutive quarterly increase — this time, 6.7 percent. However, the big news is that 2016’s total of $69.9 million marked the radio market’s best year since 2004. How did it happen? For a full look at 4Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Continue Winning Streak to Close 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • My Editor’s Note column riffs off of an idea I’ve formulated recently while attending industry events and thumbing through other publications. And it closes with a concept you’re going to see an awful lot of in the coming months — more pointedly than ever before. If you’ve been inattentive to the direction Response has taken and if you missed the link above, here it is: The Third Leg — Media Drives Technology and Commerce

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jan 27

Response January: The Rock and the Role of the Consumer

The January issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes late last week. The issue includes a cover story on Prudential, features on the sports-and-fitness and rehab center markets, and the first in our four-part series on the consumer journey. Our first issue of 2017 is chock full of great information. How’d it come together? Read on:

  • The initial outreach for what became the cover story on Prudential and its head of brand marketing and advertising, Niharika Shah, came from Sheila Kulik of New York-based PR agency Prosek Partners in October. Sheila sent over a release about the company’s new TV and print campaign for its rebranded investment management business, PGIM. After reaching back, Sheila connected me to Pru’s VP of global communications, Discretion Winter, who expertly shepherded the interview and photography process with Niharika. By mid-November, I had the interview — a phoner — with Niharika in the can. Not only is she a deeply thoughtful and analytical marketer, but Niharika was also one of the more open interviewees I’ve spoken with in recent months. Not afraid to share in-depth thoughts on how Prudential wants to reach consumers — what its brand should mean and how performance-based methodologies can help make that happen — Niharika’s insight and personality made for an enjoyable conversation. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Rock On!
  • The consumer journey. The consumer experience. The customer journey. The user experience. Whatever your team is calling it, it’s become the buzz for marketers dealing with more empowered consumers. In the latter part of 2016, as we looked at creating content for our upcoming Response Expo in San Diego (April 25-27), it became clear that centering our education on the theme of the consumer journey made all the sense in the world. At that point, we created the trademarked “Consumer Journey Map” at right. With a five-step journey featured at the show, we decided to wedge a series of stories into the first four issues of 2017 discussing those steps with leading marketers and setting the stage for the educational sessions at Response Expo. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed is handling the series through April. Step one is awareness. In case you skipped the link above: Catching Looks
  • Our annual look at the sports-and-fitness space trains its eye on the fitness part of the equation. Our Doug McPherson spoke with a number of leaders in that space, including TV fitness legend and DR Hall of Famer Tony Little, about the changes wrought by younger consumers, new media options, and more. Here’s that story link again: The Pulse of Fitness
  • With nearly 23 million Americans in need of or receiving treatment for substance abuse, it’s been no shock to see both rehab centers and referral networks expand their marketing efforts. But marketing these services is — as you’d imagine — a very delicate line to walk. Our Bridget McCrea spoke with leaders from a center and a referral network about the challenges facing marketers (and their clients) in this burgeoning space. This story is the first in a planned recurring series about emerging markets for performance-based tactics. If you missed the link above, click here: Rehab Centers and Referral Networks Go Direct
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV sector for third-quarter 2016 results. A second consecutive quarterly decrease — this time, 10.6 percent — leaves long-form billings about 3 percent shy of their total during the first nine months of 2015. The culprit in 3Q 2016? Lower pricing, especially in the satellite and Hispanic outlets: overall, the average cost of a 28:30 block of time dropped by more than 15 percent. For a full look at 3Q 2016 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Pricing Decrease Keys 3Q Long-Form DRTV Billings Decline
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column welcomes you to the consumer journey focus the magazine and Expo will have for all of our performance-based marketing readers and attendees during the first half of 2017. And — as always — I ask for your feedback on not only the story, but on your idea of the consumer journey, as well. If you missed the link above, here it is: Join Us to Explore the Consumer Journey

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!