Apr 06

Response March: Bubbles Only the Beginning of a Bevy of Bylines

Response March 2018Response‘s March Issue debuted in print at our DRMA Chicago Reception on March 12 and was online by that week’s end. After one planned cover story fell out in late January, we did far better than we could have expected while scrambling to backfill: the issue’s cover feature offers an interview with SodaStream‘s Matti Yahav, timely given March’s annual International Home + Housewares Show. Our inaugural commerce spotlight feature — as part of our new editorial calendar focus on quarterly updates on media, technology, and commerce — looks, of course, at Amazon. The issue also offers a story on the latest marketing shifts in the housewares and hardware markets, a Response Advisors’ Forum roundtable about the future of TV, and a DRMA Spotlight story on the changing of the guard at Lincoln Media Services. We also take a look at 3Q 2017 DR radio media billings, and four contributed columns share some solid opinions. Here’s how the issue came together.

  • After losing my scheduled March cover story in late January, I started scouring our research partners’ rankings and listings for recent campaigns having success in the housewares space. We always try to get a housewares marketer on the cover in March due to the Housewares show and our long-term tradition of hosting a networking event during the show. SodaStream was one name that popped up a number of times that afternoon, and after searching for the company’s press releases, I came across a PR contact with a familiar name — Stephanie Goldman of The Pollack Group. Turns out, as Stephanie noted in her quick response to my email query, that the name was familiar because we’d done some work together during her time at Steinreich Communications, another New York-area agency. The good fortune that strikes when you network, eh? Stephanie and the SodaStream team were excited about the possibility and the story is one that ended up focused on the marketer’s brand refresh as an environmentally conscious, healthy sparkling water brand. Before I go on any more, if you missed the link above, click here: A Sparkling Success
  • Freelancer Pat Cauley handled our first commerce spotlight feature, which looks at how different marketers are attacking the opportunity to drive brand and sales on the behemoth that is Amazon. From an independent start-up, to an established As Seen On TV marketer, to a broker that groupsindependent products under its own Amazon shop, the piece shares a bit of what marketers can expect when trying to sell on Amazon today. Want to hear more from these folks? You can, at MTC Expo on Wednesday, April 25 at 3:20 p.m., in a session entitled Making Amazon Work. For now, though, if you missed the link: Unpacking Amazon
  • Our freelancer Bridget McCrea takes a dive into the housewares and hardware spaces — long-time evergreens for direct-to-consumer success. What’s affecting them today? Well, Amazon (of course) plays a
    Raised Chicago March 2018

    The view from our DRMA Chicago Reception on March 12.

    major role, but so too does the country’s real estate and housing boom. What’s working and what’s not? Here’s that link again: ‘Wares in Demand … Everywhere

  • Seven members of our Response Advisory Board responded to a set of questions about the future of television in our first quarterly Advisors’ Forum of 2018. Addressability, shifting video consumption, industry consolidation, SVOD providers’ investments in content — all of these topics and more are discussed in the online version, which features our advisors complete and unabridged answers. Miss the link? Here you go: Far From Crystal Clear
  • With Amanda Jones taking the helm from founder (and father) Gary Jones, the time was right to catch up with the team at DRMA-member company Lincoln Media Services for a DRMA Spotlight story. Gary Jones, who founded the media business two decades ago, is ready to focus on his long-time interest in aviation, but he’s been working with Amanda to prepare her to take the company’s reins for a number of years. What does the transition mean? Find out: From Father to Daughter, 2 Decades of Success
  • Third-quarter 2017 DR radio media billings are highlighted in our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research. For the third consecutive quarter, our partner Kantar Media says the radio space slipped, this time by a surprising 42.6 percent, leaving DR radio with its lowest third-quarter spend in four years. Continuing losses in the local radio sector remain concerning. For a full look at 3Q 2017 DR radio media billings, click here: Third Quarter Is 2017’s Worst Yet for DR Radio Billings
  • The March issue also offers a quartet of contributed columns:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column jumps from a pair of divergent customer service experiences during my recent travels. The idea: how one good — or bad — experience can change a customer’s perspective, for a long time to come. Interested? Click here: A Single Experience Can Lose a Long-Time Customer, or Gain a New One

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Mar 07

Response January: Shiny and New for 2018

Response January 2018Yes, it’s March. And, yes, I’m just now getting to my recap of Response’s January Issue. My bad … there have been some crazy times as we close in on MTC Expo next month. However, with a moment to breathe this week, I’m hoping that I can get both this note and one about the February issue posted. January’s book features JamesAllen.com CMO Johanna Tzur on the cover. The story about the world’s fastest growing online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer is an intriguing look at the power of online video. January also finalized our shift to becoming “the magazine for media, technology, and commerce,” and with that, we offer the first of four quarterly features on the media space — this one about the expanding world of digital advertising. We also have a look at the digital goods market and a look back at one of 2017’s biggest editorial projects — one year later — the ever-evolving consumer journey. We also move into 3Q 2017 for our quarterly media billings research, as long-form DRTV takes the stage. I guess what I’m saying is that the January issue is a meaty one. Let’s take a bite out of it.

  • January’s cover interview with Tzur started with a conversation sitting on a pair of upholstered benches in Chicago’s McCormick Place at IRCE last June. Tzur was presenting at the event about JamesAllen.com’s (parent company: R2Net, until the business was bought by Signet Jewelers in September) digital efforts. Following up on that meeting, I worked with Diana Vicinanza of the company’s PR agency, Goldin Solutions, to keep the conversation going. By late summer, we’d agreed on this January spot for the cover feature. In the story, Tzur says, “Today, video is the format that projects greatest authenticity and allows high engagement with our viewers.” But that just scratches the surface of what JamesAllen.com is up to. If you missed the link above, click here: No Diamond in the Rough
  • Beginning with this issue, the No. 2 feature in the magazine will rotate among media, technology, and commerce topics each quarter. Leading off is this media spotlight on the power of digital advertising from long-time freelancer Bridget McCrea. Yes, the combined spend on all forms of digital marketing surpassed that of TV marketing spending for the first time in 2017 (or 2016, depending on who you listen to). But is there a single digital outlet that offers the scale of TV? The answer from our interviewees is a resounding “No!” But that’s not to say they’re not high on what digital opportunities — specifically mobile and social — are bringing to marketers. Once again, here’s the link to read more: The Expanse of Digital
  • As freelancer Pat Cauley notes in the second paragraph of his feature on the digital goods market, “From iTunes and Audible to Netflix and Tinder, digital goods represent one of the most diverse and thriving consumer segments.” Response just started giving the digital goods space an annual look three years ago, but it’s more than deserving of remaining on our editorial calendar in 2018 given both its overall growth and the innovative forms of marketing driving its success. In case you missed the link above, don’t miss it here: Service With a Smile
  • We kicked off 2017 with a four-month series of features on the Consumer Journey — a set of features written by former Response staffer and stellar freelancer Nicole Urso Reed that led directly into a six-session track on the topic at Response Expo last spring. With attention turning to the home stretch of planning this year’s rebranded MTC Expo, it seems only right that we get an update from Urso on what’s new for marketers trying to connect with consumers along that journey. The recurring answer: the growing importance of personalization. Here’s that link: The Personal Touch
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings research reaches third-quarter 2017, which means we once again turn our attention to the flagging long-form DRTV space. Long-form’s total of $169.3 million represented the lowest third-quarter total in 21 years and marked the sector’s sixth consecutive losing quarter. However, with pricing continuing to fall — especially in the cable space — the number of time slots purchased jumped nearly 7 percent. For a full look at 3Q 2017 long-form DRTV media billings, click here: Long-Form Billings’ Misery Reaches 18 Months
  • The January issue also features a pair of solid column submissions:
  • Finally, my January Editor’s Note column allowed me the chance to neg on the idea of New Year’s Resolutions AND quote Yoda. Fun? You decide: Measurable Goals — Not Vague Resolutions — Create Success

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Mar 08

Response February: Building, Engaging, and Maintaining Responsibility

It’s been a little more than two weeks since the February issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes. With a cover story on house-and-home e-tailer Build.com, part two of our four-part series on the consumer journey, and feature on the digital goods market, this compact issue packs a serious informational punch. For more on how we pulled it together, read on:

  • I was first introduced to Marshal Downey, our cover guy and interviewee for this feature on Build.com, during the run-up to Response Expo 2016. The first connection came from Hawthorne’s Karla Crawford Kerr — a valued ally in the business and now member of our DRMA Education Committee. Though we haven’t been able to nail Marshal down as a speaker for the Expo, we eventually locked him in for this interesting look at how the now-17-year-old e-tailer has grown its customer base via online and offline outreach — as well as impeccable customer service. One of the youngest cover subjects in years (all of 13 years old in 2001 — when I took the editorial helm of Response), Downey is wise beyond his years when it comes to omnichannel marketing. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Not Your Average Home Expansion
  • The second of our four-part “Consumer Journey” series leading into April’s Response Expo — which will feature a six-session track on the topic — focuses on engagement. My belief in the consumer journey as the centerpiece of the Expo was further confirmed last week when I attended the annual eTail West show in Palm Desert, Calif. Various facets of the consumer journey were the focus of nearly every conversation on the show floor, at the parties, and on the educational stage. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed is handling the series. In this issue, she caught up with representatives of 2016 DRMA Marketer of the Year finalists Nutrisystem and Vistaprint, Response Advisory Board member Peter Koeppel, and PR/social media expert (and DRMA Education Committee member) Lindsey Carnett. In case you skipped the link above: The Power of Attraction
  • Our annual look at the digital goods space explores the depth and the breadth of what “digital goods” can be: movies, gambling, eCards, meditation, books, Wi-Fi, web design, music, dating — and more. Our Pat Cauley spoke to leaders from JibJab, Wix, Boingo (all past Response cover subjects) and more for this in-depth piece on what’s working, what’s not, and what’s new in marketing in this young but exploding vertical. Here’s that story link again: The Digital Boomtown
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV sector for third-quarter 2016 results. After seven consecutive quarterly losses, short-form DRTV finally bounced back — if only slightly. A $4.3 million increase (less than 1 percent higher than 3Q 2015 results)  The network and spot TV markets continued to shine in short-form, helping make up for Hispanic’s continuing struggles. For a full look at 3Q 2016 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: A Ray of Light for Short-Form DR Billings
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, in my Editor’s Note column, two moments inspired some thoughts on the ongoing — and perhaps growing — controversy surrounding consumer privacy and data security. One phone call and one intriguing article helped prompt this piece — one that includes references to Voltaire, Spider-Man, and the Bible (all in a single sentence)! If you missed the link above, here it is: Data and Targeting, and Power and Responsibility

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!