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!

Sep 18

Response August: Dating, Gumballs and Storage Units

Response August 2015Since we sent the September issue off to print almost two weeks ago, I suppose I’d better get around to my quick recap of the August issue of Response. An intriguing, multifaceted cover story on Social Discovery Ventures, another digital marketer that’s found success by adding offline media to its mix, plus the usual array of news, research, and opinion, gives you plenty of reason to read on for more background on the latest issue.

  • At a trade show in early 2015, I met with Lindsey Carnett of Marketing Maven PR to discuss her client base and see if there might be an interesting story or two out there among them. Near the end of the meeting, Lindsey brought up a dating site client that was involved in sponsoring the international road rally Gumball 3000. She mentioned that this client — which turned out to be SDV, owner of and — not only had added a direct response TV campaign to its mix, but that it was inviting journalists to attend all or part of the nine-day, two-continent Gumball rally. During the next few months, with the help of Lindsey and former MMPR staffer Elizabeth Maxim, I was able to interview Anthony Volpe, SDV’s chief marketing officer, about SDV’s overall marketing plan, how a sponsorship of the Gumball event fit within that plan, and put together this feature on the performance-based aspects of their efforts. I also joined
    Hanging with Gumball 3000 founder Maximillion Cooper in Las Vegas on May 29.

    Hanging with Gumball 3000 founder Maximillion Cooper in Las Vegas on May 29.

    the final leg of the Gumball rally — from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, via Death Valley — on May 29-30 (and what an event that was: I’ll just leave this link to a piece from Eric Mack, one of my fellow journalists who was along for the ride) If you missed the link to the cover story above, here it is again: Racing to Success

  • Our writer Bridget McCrea — who was freelancing for the magazine prior to my arrival in 2001 and earns more than her keep every year — brings to life the natural fit of direct response as part of financial services marketers’ performance-based arsenal. For a long time, the financial services space — from local payday loan shops all the way up to multinational investment firms — have been leaders in using DR, and as services (especially online services) expand their power in the market, it’s no surprise that the financial space remains one of the most innovative users of performance-based tactics. If you didn’t already click the link above — here it is: Cracking the Code
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap takes a look at the first short-form DRTV results of 2015 — and some of you might want to look away. With a 12.8-percent decline, 1Q 2015 results were rather similar to the prior three-month period — 4Q 2014 numbers fell 12.7 percent. Total spending in 1Q 2015 short-form billings was the lowest recorded in any first quarter by Response since 2006. The results were intriguing in light of conversations I had during a recent visit to New York, where I met with a number of agency and network leaders. The buzz about the battle over what exactly constitutes a direct response TV campaign in 2015 was massive — and these reported results don’t exactly give lie to that buzz. For a more in-depth look at 1Q 2015 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: A Rough Start
  • If you remember one thing from my August Editor’s Note column, I’d suggest this: never fill up a 10×10 storage unit with 40-plus years of your life unless you want to spend four consecutive weekends clearing through its contents. If you missed the link to the column above, here it is once again: Slowing Down … to Pick Up Your Sales Pace

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Aug 12

Response July: Weary Legs and Entertaining Experiences

Response July 2015Last October, what eventually became the cover story for the July issue of Response had a simple genesis — I wanted to rest my weary legs. For more of that story and additional background on other key parts of the issue that hit mailboxes and the Web a few weeks back, read on!

  • Weary legs? Well, yes. I was attending the annual DMA conference in San Diego, and it’d been a long day of walking from show floor to session and back (and forth, and back again). During one afternoon time frame, I’d noted two possible educational sessions to pop into, in order to listen to and meet the marketers who were speaking on stage — and those weary legs told me, “Just go to the closest one.” It was there that I saw Alessandra Souers, brand director for JibJab, as part of a group discussing the future of online marketing. For those of you familiar with Response Expo, you know that Souers eventually sat on a panel at our event this past April. She’s one of the brighter young minds in marketing — and pretty darned amusing on Twitter, I might add. After her appearance at the Expo, I tossed out the idea of a cover story on JibJab’s marketing efforts — long focused online, but in recent holiday seasons, also dipping a toe into the pool of direct response TV. Not only did she help bring this cover to life, she actually got me all the way to the top — an interview with the company’s co-founder and CEO, Gregg Spiridellis. Among the many “online-to-offline” marketers we’ve covered of late, JibJab’s story of going from viral-video groundbreaker to monetized marketing leader may be the most interesting. If you missed the link above, here it is again: More Than Just Talking Heads
  • As one who prefers the value of finding and enjoying great experiences over the concept of buying “things,” I enjoyed the angle our writer Nicole Urso Reed — a one-time staffer at both Response and JibJab, and one of my most versatile and talented long-time freelancers — took for our annual look at marketing in the entertainment space. The idea that a consumer is looking for a great experience from not only events, but actual hard products, shouldn’t be news today. This evolving consumer is ever-more-picky about what he or she desires from time, money — and gadgets. If you didn’t already click the link above — here it is: Selling the Good Vibes
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap takes a look at the first long-form DRTV results of 2015 — and they continue what’s now a 2.5-year downward trend. Total spending in 1Q 2015 long-form billings was the lowest recorded in any first quarter by Response since 2001. If there is to be a rebound in the infomercial media space in the final nine months of 2015, it’s likely to be led by the market’s two biggest categories: beauty and fitness. However, while fitness had a strong first quarter, beauty remained mired in a slump that kicked in last year. For a more in-depth look at 1Q 2015 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Stabilization, No Rebound, for 1Q Long-Form DRTV Billings
  • One steamy day of meetings in New York City in late June is the jumping off point for my July Editor’s Note column. As we reached the halfway point of what’s been a year of transition for the direct, digital and data-driven marketing world — and our role in it — listening to the comments from the many agency and network leaders we met with during that visit prompted some reflection on the first six months, as well as an opportunity to look ahead to closing out 2015 strong. Here’s that link once again: The Summer Heat Provides Its Own Time for Reflection

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!