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!

Apr 28

Response April: Super Wix, a Beauty Fix, and a Hall of Fame Mix

Response April 2015The April issue of Response went live online the day before Response Expo in San Diego last week, with the print version first finding readers’ hands during the successful 3-day event. At the show, our great attendees were greeted with the traditionally outstanding series of networking events, an intense and passionate keynote from entertainment and sports mogul Peter Guber, and two days worth of educational sessions featuring many of the faces and companies you’ve become familiar with in our pages and from these blog posts. This afternoon, as we regroup and recover from our busiest, yet most rewarding, week of the year, I took some time to glance back at how the April issue came together.

  • In early November, word came across the wire that Wix.com, the cloud-based Web development platform based in Tel Aviv, would become the first TV advertiser built on the tenets of direct response to appear during the broadcast of the Super Bowl in nearly a decade. Within moments of seeing the news, I was reaching out to the company’s head of strategic marketing communications, Eric Mason, to see if Wix would be interested in sharing the story behind this decision. As Mason and I continued to discuss the idea through the end of 2014, it became clear that Wix expected big things from its Super Bowl campaign — not just a TV ad, but a massive omnichannel effort — and Mason had buy-in on the article from the company’s CMO, Omer Shai. The decision became clear: if the Wix campaign went well, it would be a perfect fit for our April (Response Expo) issue to tell the continuing story of online advertisers finding great success in expanding marketing to offline outlets. That decision worked out extremely well for both Wix and Response, as the campaign was a blockbuster for the marketer, and Shai was able to tell a great omnichannel story for our show issue. And, not only that, many of our attendees were lucky enough to hear Mason expound on this story and share more of Wix’s secrets of success last week at the Expo. If you missed the link above, here it is again: Wix’s Winning Game Plan
  • Omnichannel customer experiences were also the focus of our annual look at the beauty & personal care category. Long one of the direct response world’s biggest verticals, beauty & personal care has also been a leader in welcoming in brand advertisers as part of the growing direct, digital and data-driven marketing universe. As the Web’s influence grows in the space — according to one study, the category enjoyed $4.3 billion in online sales (6.5 percent of its total) in 2014 — the consumer conversation online and in retail outlets becomes more and more important. For a full look at what’s happening in the space — and if you didn’t already click the link above — here’s another chance to read the story: Creating True Customer Experiences
  • DRHOF LogoLast Thursday in San Diego, we welcomed the 2015 class of inductees to the Direct Response Hall of Fame. The 12 members of this third class — two of whom were inducted posthumously — represent another wide swath of legends and leaders in the direct response universe and bring the total membership of the DRHOF to 31. As part of the celebration, freelancer Pat Cauley reached out to the 10 living inductees with a slate of questions about the past, present and future. Six of these Hall of Famers responded, and their insights — as one might expect — prove invaluable. If you missed the link above, click here: DR Hall of Fame Roundtable: Leadership, Innovation — and Recognition
  • Mercifully, our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings update focuses on fourth-quarter (and, of course, full year) 2014 long-form DRTV results. I say mercifully because long-form media hasn’t seen times this lean since 2002, when the post-9/11 recession took a big bite out of the entire direct response business. With a quarterly drop of $33 million, the 2014 annual total slipped by more than $94 million, dropping below $900 million in total annual spending for the first time in 12 years. The good news, such as it is? The cable marketplace, whose losses were to blame for 2013’s struggles, finally began to bounce back in the last six months of the year. And if the beauty and fitness markets return to normal in 2015, we could see a quick return to form. For a deeper dive into 4Q 2014 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Wrap Worst Year Since 2002
  • One last mention of Response Expo (for now) comes in my April Editor’s Note column. Now and then, I like to share with readers the direction of where our publication (and event) are headed and why. With a great cover story like Wix and our ninth annual Expo as key factors this month, it seemed a perfect time to touch base with you all. In case you missed the link to the piece, here it is once again: Putting a Spring in Marketers’ Steps

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Feb 07

Response January: Brandman U., College Sports Marketing and Another Buzzword

RES0115_CV1A day after finalizing our February issue and sending it off to print, I finally have a free moment to take a look back at the January issue of Response. The issue went live online a couple of weeks back, but just in case you haven’t flipped it — either in print or online — I’m back with my regular look at some of the issue’s key stories.

  • My cover feature on Brandman University and Ramendra (Ram) Singh had an interesting genesis. Most refer to it as “seventh grade.” That’s right, a friend I met during junior high school — Steve Quis — pitched the story idea to me last summer in his role as PR director for the non-profit university. He’s since moved on to a similar role at Miramar College (in addition to his sports play-by-play career). The introduction to Ram was a fortuitous one. Ram is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I’ve interviewed during my 14 years at Response. His thoughts on omnichannel (yep, that word — and it’ll come up again later in this post) marketing in the education sector are ones that any marketer should consider. I’m very pleased to note that Ram will be part of an educational panel at Response Expo. If you’re one of our attendees, you shouldn’t miss it. So, thanks Steve. Who knew our time back at LVJHS and FUHS would evolve into this story! If you missed the link above, here it is again: Educating at Brandman University
  • Keeping the college theme going, our annual look at marketing in the sports & fitness category takes a deep dive into how major college athletics programs are finding new ways to commune with fans and sell game tickets and merchandise. The passion of sports fans makes them the perfect consumer to target via various direct response marketing methods, especially digital and social media. From coast to coast — quite literally from Oregon to Miami — what are the best marketers doing to reach those fans and make them consumers? If you didn’t click the link above, here’s your chance to find out: Inside the College Playbook
  • The January issue buzzword of the month: omnichannel. After touching on the “programmatic” frenzy in December, we took our questions about “omnichannel” marketing to the Response Advisory Board (RAB) for 2015’s first advisors roundtable feature. Seven of our board members took part in the conversation and — as usual — the online version carries the complete and unabridged answers from each leader (compared to the edited version that runs in the print magazine). Once again, if you missed the link above, click here: Response Advisors Forum: Entering the Omnichannel Era
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings update focuses on third-quarter 2014 long-form DRTV results. Once again, media billings in the half-hour advertising space stumbled, losing $20.3 million compared to the prior third quarter and leaving the total for the first nine months of the year off by more than $61 million. This is the second consecutive year of losses for the long-form space — unless fourth-quarter results are shockingly good. But there is some hope that long-form marketers are starting to understand the trends and restructuring how best to take advantage of long-form DRTV. To take a deeper look at 3Q 2014 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form Media Billings Dip $20M … Again
  • A line I removed from January’s Editor’s Note column read (so far as I can recall): “And I am sure my fiancée rues the day she urged me to join Twitter.” If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or are a Facebook friend, you may agree … wholeheartedly. Nonetheless, to read my take on using social media outlets — both personally and professionally — here’s the link once again: Finding — and Growing — Your Social Voice

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!