Mar 07

Response January: Shiny and New for 2018

Response January 2018Yes, it’s March. And, yes, I’m just now getting to my recap of Response’s January Issue. My bad … there have been some crazy times as we close in on MTC Expo next month. However, with a moment to breathe this week, I’m hoping that I can get both this note and one about the February issue posted. January’s book features CMO Johanna Tzur on the cover. The story about the world’s fastest growing online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer is an intriguing look at the power of online video. January also finalized our shift to becoming “the magazine for media, technology, and commerce,” and with that, we offer the first of four quarterly features on the media space — this one about the expanding world of digital advertising. We also have a look at the digital goods market and a look back at one of 2017’s biggest editorial projects — one year later — the ever-evolving consumer journey. We also move into 3Q 2017 for our quarterly media billings research, as long-form DRTV takes the stage. I guess what I’m saying is that the January issue is a meaty one. Let’s take a bite out of it.

  • January’s cover interview with Tzur started with a conversation sitting on a pair of upholstered benches in Chicago’s McCormick Place at IRCE last June. Tzur was presenting at the event about’s (parent company: R2Net, until the business was bought by Signet Jewelers in September) digital efforts. Following up on that meeting, I worked with Diana Vicinanza of the company’s PR agency, Goldin Solutions, to keep the conversation going. By late summer, we’d agreed on this January spot for the cover feature. In the story, Tzur says, “Today, video is the format that projects greatest authenticity and allows high engagement with our viewers.” But that just scratches the surface of what is up to. If you missed the link above, click here: No Diamond in the Rough
  • Beginning with this issue, the No. 2 feature in the magazine will rotate among media, technology, and commerce topics each quarter. Leading off is this media spotlight on the power of digital advertising from long-time freelancer Bridget McCrea. Yes, the combined spend on all forms of digital marketing surpassed that of TV marketing spending for the first time in 2017 (or 2016, depending on who you listen to). But is there a single digital outlet that offers the scale of TV? The answer from our interviewees is a resounding “No!” But that’s not to say they’re not high on what digital opportunities — specifically mobile and social — are bringing to marketers. Once again, here’s the link to read more: The Expanse of Digital
  • As freelancer Pat Cauley notes in the second paragraph of his feature on the digital goods market, “From iTunes and Audible to Netflix and Tinder, digital goods represent one of the most diverse and thriving consumer segments.” Response just started giving the digital goods space an annual look three years ago, but it’s more than deserving of remaining on our editorial calendar in 2018 given both its overall growth and the innovative forms of marketing driving its success. In case you missed the link above, don’t miss it here: Service With a Smile
  • We kicked off 2017 with a four-month series of features on the Consumer Journey — a set of features written by former Response staffer and stellar freelancer Nicole Urso Reed that led directly into a six-session track on the topic at Response Expo last spring. With attention turning to the home stretch of planning this year’s rebranded MTC Expo, it seems only right that we get an update from Urso on what’s new for marketers trying to connect with consumers along that journey. The recurring answer: the growing importance of personalization. Here’s that link: The Personal Touch
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research reaches third-quarter 2017, which means we once again turn our attention to the flagging long-form DRTV space. Long-form’s total of $169.3 million represented the lowest third-quarter total in 21 years and marked the sector’s sixth consecutive losing quarter. However, with pricing continuing to fall — especially in the cable space — the number of time slots purchased jumped nearly 7 percent. For a full look at 3Q 2017 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form Billings’ Misery Reaches 18 Months
  • The January issue also features a pair of solid column submissions:
  • Finally, my January Editor’s Note column allowed me the chance to neg on the idea of New Year’s Resolutions AND quote Yoda. Fun? You decide: Measurable Goals — Not Vague Resolutions — Create Success

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 15

Response November: Yellow Boots, the Travel Bug, and the Power of Experiences

Following closely on the heels of my (admittedly quite late) look back at our October issue, let’s take a gander at the November book, which is headlined by a cover feature on well-known shoe and apparel brand Timberland. Our second issue under our sleek new masthead and tagline also features our annual look at the travel marketing space and an update on the technological advances driving the expanding home shopping space. And, as usual, there’s the latest look at media billings statistics, as well as a trove of intriguing thoughts and opinions in our column well. Let’s take a look at the issue’s highlights and how the key stories came together.

  • In early June, I attended an educational session at the IRCE event in Chicago featuring Timberland’s Frank Hwang and representatives of Olapic, an agency specializing in maximizing the effects of user-generated content. Rightfully intrigued by the success of the company’s “We Built It, You Made It” campaign for its iconic Yellow Boot (yes, that’s Frank sporting a pair on the cover), I spoke with Frank and the Olapic team after the session. Upon returning home, I was connected with Nora Garrity, Timberland’s senior PR manager. With Nora’s tremendous assistance, we began to build what became this three-pronged cover feature, which includes interviews with Frank, Mike Isabella, the company’s consumer engagement director (also on the cover), and Jim Davey, Timberland’s vice president of marketing. If you missed the link above, click here for Timberland’s story of using performance-based marketing to promote such a strong brand in this consumer-centric era (and, yes, the headline indeed comes from the classic John Coltrane song/album): Giant Steps
  • One of our key freelancers, Nicole Urso Reed, says urges for one-stop shopping and personalized service are tweaking travel marketing in new and different ways. Yes, the power of the Expedias, Orbitzes, and other all-in-one discounters is here to stay. But discerning travelers are seeking more: more chances to check out reviews and book in the same place (think TripAdvisor); and more opportunities to create their own specialized itineraries with the help of local or demographic experts — think old-school travel agents, but better. Check out the story for more: All-Inclusive Adventures
  • As anyone who’s been around more than a few years knows, the home shopping TV networks are the (still living) ancestors of today’s e-commerce megasites. So, if you thought that QVC acquiring HSN and becoming the nation’s third-largest e-commerce player was the story of the year in home shopping, well … yea, you’re right. But, as usual, freelancer Bridget McCrea digs deeper to find that some of the smaller, more nimble players are driving advances in the home shopping space, particularly through the use of mobile apps and other digital technologies. Here’s that link again: Home Shopping’s Digital Evolution
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research focuses on second-quarter 2017 short-form DRTV research provided by our partner Kantar Media. After ending a bit of a losing streak during the second-half of 2016, the short-form space has continued gaining ground in the first half of this year. As a matter of fact, 2Q results left the short-form market up by more than $327 million during 2017’s first six months compared to the same period of the year earlier. For a full look at 2Q 2017 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Short-Form DRTV Billings Reach a Year’s Worth of Hikes
  • The November issue also features a trio of solid submissions in our column section:
    • In a strong Media Zone piece, Koeppel Direct‘s Peter Koeppel delivers five suggestions on how to reach the coveted millennial market.
    • In a timely Support Services column, Moulton LogisticsPatrick Moulton says a marketer’s job is only half done when they make it to a home shopping network. With more home shopping outlets now preferring drop-shipping, what do marketers need to know about this particular back-end service?
    • Barbara Kerry‘s Production House column tackles the other end of the generational spectrum, as Script to Screen‘s leader says that TV remains a powerful tool to reach Boomers, who still hold much of the nation’s spending power.
  • Finally, the inspiration for my Editor’s Note column about valuing the power of experiences over the accumulation of things (and what that might mean for marketers) came partly from an October spent attending the National League playoffs and World Series at Dodger Stadium. Though my childhood team (yes, the Dodgers) eventually lost Game 7 of a great World Series to the Houston Astros, the experience of attending all eight of L.A.’s 2017 home playoff games is one that will live with me forever. Reaching consumers’ indelible memories to create an emotional attachment to a brand is a strategy as old as advertising itself (just see the “Mad Men” clip I reference in the column). But what’s different about consumers today? That’s where the column has some thoughts you might carry ahead: Consumers Can Power Campaigns With Powerful Experiences

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 04

Response November: Doing Well by Doing Good

Response November 2016Response’s November issue hit the web and mailboxes during the past two weeks. Here’s something to consider: in our four feature stories, we cover the housewares market, the medical equipment space, the travel marketing world, and home shopping/e-retail. Even for our team, that’s some impressive breadth. That’s not to mention this month’s research and opinion pages. Suffice it to say, we packed a lot into a tight 52 pages. If you want to hear more about how it came together, read on:

  • If you are in the habit of listening to your car radio, there’s a high likelihood you’ve heard a Boll & Branch ad. I can’t remember the last time I was in my car heading to our Orange County office on a Monday morning and didn’t hear a B&B ad on one of Howard Stern’s SiriusXM channels. So when I went to the IRCE show in Chicago in June, I made sure to head to the educational session featuring Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO of the company. In the days thereafter, I reached out to Tannen’s team to see if they would have any interest in a cover feature on their performance-based marketing efforts. Very quickly, the PR liaison for the company, Dillan Arrick, was on the job. Timing was the issue, which is how many of our cover stories — this one included — take five or more months from genesis to print. Scott, his wife Missy, the company’s co-founder and president, and Dillan could not have been easier to work with. And this story is not only a great testament to performance-based metrics building a huge housewares e-retailer, it’s also a feel-good piece about a company that does things the right way. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Balancing More Than Sheets
  • Think of your own needs and desires when you travel. Are they more about convenience or comfort? Service or luxury? Now, multiply those by the choices of billions of others and you’ll understand the challenges travel marketers face in today’s consumer-controlled marketing world. Make promises … at your own peril. Our Nicole Urso Reed dove into the space for this feature, chatting with marketers from across the travel spectrum to find out what’s working — and what isn’t. In case you skipped the link above: Total Immersion
  • Another key member of our team of contributors, Bridget McCrea delved into the rapidly changing world of home shopping. With the expansion of Amazon, long-time home shopping leaders like HSN and QVC have had to nimbly adjust their business plans. And, just as they’re gaining comfort as multichannel e-retailers, along comes Amazon again — now with its own online “home shopping” programming. What’s next in the home shopping world? Here’s that story link again: The ‘Amazon-ing’ of Home Shopping
  • Our Doug McPherson‘s outstanding case study on the truly intriguing birth and success of the HurryCane, is not your average “bring a hot new product to market” story. From the why and the when to the how and the who, the success of this medical equipment legend took many hands. If you missed the link above, click here: How a HurryCane Forms
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV space for second-quarter 2016 results. And though those results show the least-steep decline in more than a year, short-form DRTV — at least according to how Kantar Media measures it — continues to flounder. Is it an issue of what Kantar’s measuring — to wit, are its parameters for a direct response spot too narrow in today’s performance-based marketplace? We’ve heard rumblings from readers about this, and we’re not wholly unconvinced. For a full look at 2Q 2016 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Short-Form DRTV Media Billings Continue to Fade
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, in my Editor’s Note column, I ask marketers and other leaders in our space to look ahead — at 2017 and beyond — after spending months spellbound by the most memorable and most embarrassing election cycle in modern U.S. history. We, as an industry, have plenty of challenges — and opportunities — to focus upon in the coming months and years. Let’s get to them! If you missed the link above, here it is: Now That That’s Over …

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!