Mar 30

Response March: Housewares Legends and Consumer Journey Lessons

The March issue of Response hit the web and began delivering to mailboxes around St. Patrick’s Day — and had a nice splash at both the International Home+Housewares Show and our own DRMA Chicago Reception on March 20. This month, we reached back to our roots in the As Seen On TV space for a rare cover feature on an old-school DRTV marketer — Top Dog Direct. In addition, there’s part three of our four-part series on the consumer journey, a feature on the housewares and hardware markets, and our most recent Response Advisors Forum feature, which takes on questions about consumer privacy and data security. For more on how the March issue emerged, read on:

  • If you’ve been around the DRTV business for any appreciable amount of time, you’ve likely met Bill McAlister, president and CEO of Trevose, Pa.-based Top Dog Direct. He’s been a fixture in the As Seen On TV world since he arrived at HSN in the 1980s. And his group of companies, which were united under the Top Dog umbrella a couple of years ago, have been responsible for a series of DRTV-to-retail hits: Urine Gone; Mighty Putty; the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow; Tag Away; and the BeActive Brace — among many others. Many of those hits have been in the housewares space, which is why Top Dog always has a major presence at the Housewares Show in Chicago every March — so the timing on this piece couldn’t have been better. It was a pleasure to interview McAlister — he’s engaging, funny, and one of the most open interviewees I’ve worked with in years. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Big Bark, Bigger Bite
  • The third 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 the purchase. When a consumer becomes a customer is a clear moment of truth for any marketer — but much more goes into that moment than meets the eye. Technology plays a key role in making consumers comfortable enough to go through with the purchase — especially safe payment processing for increasing digital purchases. Key freelancer Nicole Urso Reed has done a great job handling this series, and in this issue, she caught up with payment processing experts Vantiv, online marketer Adore Me, and agency head (and Response Advisory Board member) Doug Garnett of Atomic Direct. In case you skipped the link above: Paid in Full
  • As our annual look at the housewares and hardware spaces notes, the housing market is booming once again — which means housewares and hardware marketers are working hard to keep pace with consumer demand. Whether major marketers will full lines of product, or a “Shark Tank”-funded startup, these verticals remain two of the healthiest in the performance-based marketing world. Here’s that story link again: Marketing House & Home
  • Seven members of our Advisory Board took part in the first of four quarterly roundtable features that will appear in the pages of Response in 2017. This quarter’s topic is a hot one: data security and consumer privacy. Capitalizing on all the incredible data available today — while respecting and protecting consumers’ desires — is one of marketers’ defining efforts in this era. What do our Advisory Board members thing? Just in case you missed it above, here’s story link again: Keeping Consumers Safe, Secure, and Satisfied
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio sector for third-quarter 2016 results. And unlike recent DRTV results, the audio medium is riding a hot streak. DR radio rounded out a full four quarters of increases by jumping more than 37 percent in 3Q 2016. In fact, the total of more than $18.5 million marked the second-best third-quarter results reported in Response since we teamed with Kantar Media in 2004. For a full look at 3Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Pick Up Speed in 3Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note column delves into the increasing interest — at events, in trade publications, and elsewhere across the performance-based marketing landscape — in the post-purchase facets of the consumer journey. Timely, don’t you think? If you missed the link above, here it is: A New Focus on the Back End of the Journey?

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 21

Response December: Another Year Done … from A to zulily

The December issue of Response hit the web and mailboxes beginning late last week. And in a random bout of timeliness — plus the fact that I’m out of the office this evening through Jan. 2 — I’m here to recap it for you. This issue’s features include a cover story on zulily, a piece on the expanding consumer electronics market, our fourth Response Advisory Board roundtable of the year, and a web exclusive on the DR radio space. For more on how we built 2016’s last issue, read on:

  • zulily (and, yes, the folks there are all about that lower-case “z,” y’all) has made a name for itself in the e-retail segment in recent years. Reaching a coveted demographic — mothers between 25-44 — helps. Quality marketers running the business don’t hurt, either. The company first came to my attention when a long-time industry colleague and friend, Chris Johns, took a gig in the company’s strategic partnerships division in 2015. After a couple of meetings (ahem, cocktails) and a couple of calls to the right people, Chris put me in touch with Lindsay Powers in the company’s PR department. Lindsay did a splendid job wrangling this story with me, from helping select the right executive — Kevin Saliba, the company’s vice president of strategic partnerships and business development —to providing contact with zulily partner Crayola to help flesh out the story. With more than 15,000 brands selling products on zulily, it’s an intriguing case study on today’s expanding e-retail environment. If you missed the link to the story above, here it is once again: Giving Moms What They Want
  • Consumer electronics technology is not only a burgeoning vertical for marketers — it’s also crucial to the delivery of every marketer’s message. Freelancer Pat Cauley did a nice job of walking this line in his update on the CE space. From AR to VR and AI to IoT (Confused? Read the story to find out what those abbreviations mean) marketers of products that use those technologies are finding fertile ground, while marketers in other verticals want to maximize those technologies as outlets for their messages. In case you skipped the link above: A Space Odyssey
  • In preparation for our final quarterly Advisors Forum feature, I spent a couple of days digging through researchers’ many (and varied) predictions for marketing — digital, TV, and beyond — for 2017. After culling those down to some of the more interesting projections, I provided the members of our Advisory Board a series of questions on the topics raised. This useful year-end exercise provided a some surprising — and conflicting — responses. As always, the online version of the Advisors Forum presents our board members’ complete and unabridged answers. Here’s that story link again: Parsing the Projections
  • Our Doug McPherson spoke with media leaders in the DR radio space for a web exclusive feature. After a downturn earlier this decade, media billings research has shown DR radio expanding healthily in recent years. What’s driving this growth in a medium that’s often scoffed at? If you missed the link above, click here: DR Radio Rocks the Reach
  • Speaking of DR radio media billings, our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the space for second-quarter 2016 results. Growth remains the buzzword, as an 11.7-percent increase over 2Q 2015 results led to radio’s best second quarter since 2007. For a full look at 2Q 2016 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Billings Drive Forward in 2Q 2016
  • Other key items in this month’s issue include:
  • My Editor’s Note column leads with the big news: Response moved its offices — two whole miles — in late November (if you still need that new address: 2600 Michelson Drive, Suite, 1700, Irvine, CA 92612). From there, I riff a little about fresh starts, Response Expo, and reader feedback. It’s all very exciting! If you missed the link above, here it is: We’re Movin’ on Up!

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response throughout 2016! I wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in 2017.

Jun 23

Response June: A Series of Educated Gambles

Response June 2016Response‘s June issue hit the web (and mailboxes) this week. Headlined by a cover story on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the issue also features our second quarterly Advisors Forum feature of 2016, this time centered on the topic of attribution, a special case study on Delivery.com‘s solution to issues with credit card fraud, and a web-exclusive story on the pharmaceutical and healthcare space. Read on for background on some of the key facets of our first summer issue:

  • In a shocking turn, the headline for the cover story on the LVCVA echoes its most famous tagline: ‘What Happens in Vegas …’ The work on this story actually dates to late 2015, when I received a press release from the LVCVA’s Courtney Fitzgerald about a new digital offering from the group. By early January, we’d settled on a cover interview with Cathy Tull, the group’s senior vice president of marketing, as a cover story. But with a new TV campaign rolling out in June — and a series of mobile-focused digital offerings hitting in the interim — we agreed to push the feature until this particular issue. It was the right choice, because by the time I sat down for a phone call with Tull in early May, we had plenty to discuss. The LVCVA’s wide-ranging goals and ever-expanding online and offline marketing efforts make it a great story for anyone looking at any facet of performance-based marketing. If you missed it above, here’s the link: ‘What Happens in Vegas …’
  • Attribution may be the biggest buzzword in performance-based marketing today. Marketers, agencies, and other vendors are working constantly to find the right mix of data that will help them attribute each lead or sale back to the piece of media that prompted a consumer to act. But as consumers have gained more control over how and when they are reached — let alone how and when they respond — that attribution is harder and harder to nail down. Seven members of the Response Advisory Board responded to questions for this special roundtable on the topic of attribution — and the online version includes their full, unabridged answers. If you missed the link above but want to check out the story, click here: What’s the Attribution Solution?
  • When I met with Forter‘s Bill Zielke and Delivery.com’s Colin Sims at the eTail West event in Palm Desert, Calif., in February, I was intrigued by their story about the online retailer’s struggles with credit card fraud and Forter’s solution. Right then and there, I made an immediate decision that this story was worthy of a rare case study feature in the pages of Response. Four months later, freelancer Doug McPherson has the story for you: Fighting Fraud
  • The issue’s fourth feature — our look at the pharmaceutical and healthcare markets — is only available online. For marketers of healthcare services to health insurance to pharmaceuticals, an ever-changing regulatory environment is nothing new. How are these marketers dealing with the restrictions — and capitalizing on new opportunities in the age of Obamacare and expanded Medicare coverage? Don’t miss this web exclusive: Healthy Changes
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the DR radio space for outstanding fourth-quarter 2015 results. The radio space’s best 4Q performance in five years lifted its annual total to more than $58 million — a 7.9-percent rise over 2014, which itself was a big bounce-back year. What’s behind the recent success of the radio medium? For a full look at 4Q 2015 DR radio media billings, click here: DR Radio Doubles Down on Success
  • Response is very fortunate to have many of the brightest minds in the business as regular contributors to our column well. This month’s pieces display the breadth of that expertise, if you simply click on these links: Media Zone; Production House; Net Gains; and Legal Review. At the risk of sounding a little self-assured after more than 15 years running the magazine’s editorial, I’d like to think I’m in that group of “bright minds,” which means I always want to make sure my Editor’s Note column measures up. This month, I flip the attribution debate among marketers and agencies on its head and ask our readers to view attribution from a consumer’s perspective. Might this reversal help you better understand your attribution issues from a business perspective? That’s what I’d like to know. If you missed the link above, click here to read (and respond to) my latest: Thinking Like a Consumer Could Help Your Attribution Modeling

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!