May 17

Response April: Gnomes, Phones, and the Rather Well Known

Response April 2016It seems so long ago that we sent Response‘s April issue out the door. But with that happening just prior to the final countdown to Response Expo, followed by hosting the Expo, and then followed by the annual deep breath after the Expo, it’s finally time to share some of the inside information on how the issue came together. Led by a cover story on long-time online travel leader Travelocity, the issue also includes our annual story on the beauty and personal care products space, a key feature on the evolution of mobile as both a marketing and response mechanism, and an exclusive roundtable with the 2016 inductees to the DR Hall of Fame. Here’s a little more on just some of the items you should consider reading:

  • The cover story with Travelocity and its VP of marketing/general manager Brad Wilson was borne of discussions with Atrium PR leader Adrienne Scordato in late 2015. Atrium represents New York media agency Assembly, which won Travelocity’s business last year. With the help of Travelocity’s on PR insider Keith Nowak, we were able to pull together a very strong story about the marketer that’s celebrating 20 years in business, making it the longest-tenured of all the leading online travel sites. Wilson — a personable and thoughtful interviewee — is a veteran of direct-to-consumer marketing, having served at Match.com and Nutrisystem prior to joining Travelocity. In all, Travelocity’s story of combining online and offline marketing strengths (behind it’s well-known brand presence, the Roaming Gnome) may be the most powerful of our recent features focusing on such multichannel success. If you missed it above, here’s the link: Where the Gnome Roams
  • The rapid ascent of mobile as a marketing outlet and — perhaps more importantly — a consumer’s preferred viewing and response mechanism has changed the game for both sides of the marketing divide. With consumers spending more time on mobile devices than PCs or laptops — and with mobile commerce growing by leaps and bounds every month — marketers are seeking new ways to reach those consumers how and when they want. Freelancer Pat Cauley tracked down a number of marketers trying to make inroads in the mobile game — and going about it in vastly different ways. If you missed the link above but want to check out the story, click here: The Mobile Monarchy
  • On April 28, I was privileged to welcome all eight of our 2016 inductees to the DR Hall of Fame in our ceremonies at Response Expo. With six of those inductees on hand, it was an honor to introduce them and share with our attendees the joy and gratitude each of those inductees displayed in their acceptance speeches. As part of the April issue (which was available around the Expo in San Diego), we were able to conduct a roundtable with the seven living inductees. From fond remembrances to insight for the future, the resulting story is definitely worth a look: Worthy Winners
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the long-form DRTV space for fourth-quarter 2015 results. For a second consecutive quarter, the long-form market grew — inspiring some hope for 2016 after a long three-year downturn that finally subsided in the middle of last year. The quarter’s 7.7-percent increase (and a 6.6-percent jump for the final six months of the year) helped annual results in the long-form space nearly break even for 2015 as a whole. For a full look at 4Q 2015 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form DRTV Billings Build Momentum for 2016
  • An exceedingly strong group of guest columnists joined us in April (just take a look at these linked pieces: Media Zone; Support Services; En Español; Net Gains; and Guest Opinion). When that happens, I feel a bit more pressure on my Editor’s Note piece. Add in the Response Expo factor, and it was as good a time as any to restate Response‘s focus in the ever-changing and growing world we now refer to as “performance-based marketing.” And, as I note near the end of the piece, I do love feedback — in person, via phone, via email, and, yes, via the blog. If you missed the link above, click here to read (and respond to) my latest: Performance-Based Marketers Capitalize on the Present — and Drive the Future

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jun 04

Response May: Beyond the Rack, the Media Pack and an Expo FAQ

Response May 2015The May issue of Response went live online just before Memorial Day weekend. With a full recap of late April’s Response Expo a key facet of the issue, we’ve pushed back our print and mail dates closer to mid-month, keeping content slightly more fresh for our readers. After some recent Response travel to San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as tying up loose ends on the coming June issue, I finally have some time to glance back at how the pieces fit into our May issue puzzle.

  • Shortly after the calendar flipped to 2015, I was reading a different trade pub on a flight and came across a small blurb about Beyond the Rack, an online private shopping club based in Montreal. Digging deeper, I found that its vice president of marketing, Richard Cohene, was a regular on the speaking circuit and popped up often as a source in various stories online. Intrigued by the direct and digital aspects of operating a business like BTR’s, I dropped a line to the company. After a couple of stops and starts, due mainly to conflicting travel schedules, I got on the line with Cohene — who was not only personable, but extremely knowledgeable about today’s “direct response marketing,” as he repeatedly called it. Within a couple of calls, he’d agreed for the company to be featured in our May issue — and, just last week after the issue debuted, he agreed to be the first slated speaker for Response Expo 2016. If you missed the link above, here it is again: Where Marketing’s Always in Fashion
  • The May issue is home to our first Media Buying & Planning Guide for the year. With the mag’s history based in DRTV, it’s always great to dig deeper on the state of media, and in the spring we usually seek out the perspective of TV/cable network sales leaders. Hence, it’s a natural fit to publish the annual Cable Network Directory in that same issue. One of the relationships I’m most proud of helping build in my 14 years at Response is the relationship we have — and have helped leaders of other sectors of the industry gain — with TV sales leaders. During the past decade, I’m happy to say that Response has done unprecedented things in bringing together the sales and buying sides of the DRTV media business thanks to an investment in our relationships with the network groups. If you didn’t already click the links above — here they are: Connecting With All Screens and the 2015 Cable Network Directory.
  • The news pages of our May Field Reports section focus heavily on a recap of Response Expo 2015. From Peter Guber’s stellar keynote through the Closing Night Party, if you missed any of Response Expo in April, these stories will help you feel like you were there and let you know what you missed! Here’s that link again: Field Reports — Response Expo Recap
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings recap takes one last look at 2014 short-form DRTV results. And while the sector ended the full year with a minor 2.8-percent rise, struggles in the second half of the year prevented what could have been a full return to form after a dismal 2013. Fourth-quarter results — the focus in this month’s story — were particularly concerning, as overall spending in the final three months of the year hasn’t been this lackluster since 2005. For a deeper dive into 4Q 2014 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Total 2014 Short-Form DRTV Billings Rise 2.8 Percent
  • My May Editor’s Note column starts by referring to my interview with Cohene for this month’s cover story and his repeated references to BTR’s use of “direct response marketing.” As you can imagine, with the magazine’s — and my — stated goal in recent years being to foster the combination of direct, digital and data-driven marketing, this gave me plenty of food for thought considering BTR’s almost-100-percent digital marketing budget. Want to read on? Here’s that link once again: Direct Response Is Today’s Marketing … and Tomorrow’s

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!