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!

Dec 01

Response October: Better Late Than Never

Response October 2016Considering that Response’s November issue hit the web and mailboxes in the past two weeks, you’d be right in thinking, “Why’s he recapping the October issue now?” I’ll tell you this: it isn’t for lack of effort. Things have been crazy around the Response offices of late: our new DRMA Committees are in full swing, planning for Response Expo 2017 is underway in earnest, and preparation of our annual Preferred Partner Directory for its December debut was, as always, time-consuming. Today, though, I finally found some wiggle room to dig into an October issue that featured the winner of the eighth annual DRMA Marketer of the Year Award, the second part of our biannual media buying and planning guide, a look at the automotive marketing scene, and more. Read on to look back:

  • In one of the closer races in the eight-year history of the competition, Nutrisystem was announced as the winner of the 2016 DRMA Marketer of the Year Award on Sept. 14 in Las Vegas. Vistaprint finished second in the voting, with Adore Me, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and AIG finishing behind them in that order. Stacie Mullen, Nutrisystem’s vice president of celebrity management, was on hand to accept the award — and could not have been more personable and thankful. And she was outstanding to all involved while posing for the cover story photography with Vistaprint’s Peter Tardif and others while overlooking the Vegas Strip from Drai’s Rooftop Nightclub at The Cromwell. For more on the competition — and the victors — and if you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: A Big Victory — by the Slimmest of Margins
  • Freelancer Doug McPherson took on our annual look at the automotive market. And while high-tech, performance-based tools like augmented reality (AR) and interactive games are taking hold — which makes sense as an intriguing adjunct to the traditional test drive —a number of those in the space, from car manufacturers to car dealers and aftermarket goods marketers — are still finding success with more traditional media. Even print! Here’s that story link again: Fueling Sales
  • Expanding TV technology. Video content everywhere. Second-screen messaging. Expanding mobile response. In the second media buying and planning guide feature of 2016, long-time contributor Nicole Urso Reed queried leaders from the agency side of the business about key 2016 topics, such as the effects of political and Olympic advertising, and what’s coming in 2017 and beyond. Technological shifts that impact the empowered consumer’s journey to purchase lead both the challenge and the opportunity lines. Just in case you skipped the link above: Rolling With the Changes
  • In the third of our series of features on the back-end vendor services space (in August, we touched on payment processing, with teleservices covered in September), our Doug McPherson spoke with a trio of leaders in the fulfillment space. Talk about a business that’s changed — especially thanks to consumers’ Amazon-driven expectations for immediate delivery, constant communication, and easy returns. Read more about the current state of fulfillment here: Providing Product
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV space for second-quarter 2016 results. For the first time in a year, long-form suffered a (minor) setback, dropping $11.4 million from 2Q 2015 results. However, much of that decrease can be attributed to a continuing decline in cable outlet pricing — and who, on the agency side, is complaining about that? In fact, total time slots purchased were up 8.4 percent, while spending in the top-30 DMAs also jumped. For a full look at 2Q 2016 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Send Mixed Messages in 2Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
    • A DRMA Spotlight story on Z Living, and its expanded slate of new programming designed to reach key demos across an array of platforms.
    • The But Wait, There’s More page features a bevy of photos from the packed DRMA Marketer of the Year event in Las Vegas.
  • Finally, the topic for my Editor’s Note column was a no-brainer: the October issue is the first of Response‘s 25th year in business. And while I was a junior in college when that first issue published in 1992, it almost feels like I’ve been here the whole damned time. Mostly, though, it felt like a time to reflect on that history, my role in it, and my goals each day. If you missed the link above, here it is: Happy Anniversary to Us!

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Aug 04

Response July: Don’t Call Them Comebacks

Response July 2016It’s been about 10 days since Response‘s July issue hit the web (and mailboxes). Earlier this week, we wrapped up and sent off our August issue to print. So I’m now able to share a bit about the issue, which is led by  a cover story on long-time performance-based marketing leader Nutrisystem. The issue also features our annual look at production and creative work in the TV/video sector and a feature touching on the latest news in the entertainment market. Read on for some back story on the key facets of the July issue:

  • We at Response have a lengthy knowledge of and history with Nutrisystem and its marketing efforts. The 44-year-old company has been a long-time leader in utilizing performance-based efforts — both offline and online — that have merited our coverage in the past. Additionally, we’ve known, personally, a number of the company’s media strategy leaders over the years. But, while prepping for Response Expo 2016 last winter, we reconnected with the company’s PR head, Robin Shallow, thanks to another old friend of the magazine, Karla Crawford Kerr of ad agency Hawthorne Direct. And though the company’s CMO, Keira Krausz, wasn’t able to swing her schedule to speak at the Expo, we were able to grab this cover story. And what great timing, as Nutrisystem is on a three-year hot streak after some lean years — thanks to Krausz’s leadership and its team’s knowledge of omnichannel marketing. At the same time, the company made a key acquisition while also debuting a brand new campaign in late 2015. If you missed it above, here’s the link: All Systems Go!
  • An annual staple, our feature on the production/creative end of the business, used to be centered fully around DRTV production. But with the expansion of new screens, digital media, and more, the story has expanded to include a deeper dive into the wider world of what might now be called video production. It’s clear that video assets are among the most desired by online marketers — and the experience with the success of video in different facets of online marketing is driving many of these marketers to look at linear TV as an advertising option. Don’t worry — even though we have updated how we look at this feature, our annual “cost of” spot and infomercial production charts remain a major part of the piece. If you missed the link above but want to check out the story, click here: Harnessing the Ever-Shrinking Screen
  • If you didn’t get enough about the power of new screens in the production story, well, the entertainment feature has some more for you. Between the growing power of subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD) and over-the-top (OTT) options and the technological breakthrough of 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) televisions, performance-based marketers have a lot to consider these days. Our Nicole Urso Reed, a one-time senior editor for Response and long-time freelancer, has more in her story: Ready for the Next Big Thing
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV space for first-quarter 2016 results that continue the sector’s recent run of good fortune. After a three-year losing streak was finally broken in 3Q 2015, results reported in this issue make 1Q 2016 the third consecutive winning quarter. Total time slots purchased rose more than 22 percent, and only fading cable media pricing — which, actually, is a relief to buyers and perhaps a major key to recent success — kept the quarter’s dollar-on-dollar rise below 16 percent. For a full look at 1Q 2016 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Continue Rising in 1Q 2016
  • I wasn’t all that happy with my Editor’s Note column this month. When you’re tasked with writing a monthly column for 15 years, things can get … stale. And, sometimes — when you’re blocked — the writing gets rather clunky. Anyway, the thing you probably want to take from this piece is that we are working hard — at all times — to build our community of readers and advertisers. One recent development in that is the formation of DRMA Committees. While nearly four-dozen industry executives have joined the committees, there’s still room for more volunteers. Get more info on the committees here: DRMA Committees. And if you missed the link above, click here (if you must) to read my latest: Banding Together Can Create Business Freedom

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!