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!

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, 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!