Feb 24

Response February: A ‘Premera’ Marketer; New Hall of Famers; and Not-That-Bad Media Billings

The February issue of Response debuted in print a couple of weeks ago and hit the Web last week. I’ve finally been able to clear some time today to give you my monthly glimpse at back story on the issue, including the cover feature highlighting Premera Blue Cross (and VP/GM Jim Havens), the new class of inductees for the DR Hall of Fame and more:

  • About four months ago, we got a call from Sean Fay of Envision Response in Seattle. Sean’s been a long-time friend of Response, going back to his days with Cesari Direct. He was really excited about the work he’d just done with Premera Blue Cross, the Blue Cross health insurance organization serving Washington and Alaska, and believed they’d be interested in talking about their campaign for some newly tweaked Medicare offerings. After I was connected with Amy Carter, a key PR player for the insurer, the story came together without a hitch. Havens, who headed up the Medicare Advantage product launch, was open and forthright about the challenges Premera faced and the work that both Envision and agency DMW Direct did to help make its multi-channel campaign a success. If you missed the link above, here it is once again: A Direct Advantage
  • Our Field Reports news section is a hearty one this month, led by the announcement of the 10 inductees selected to join the Direct Response Hall of Fame on May 1 at Response Expo in San Diego. With a nominating process headed by the Response Advisory Board, this group of inductees joins our inaugural group of nine who were inducted in 2013. Not only will the induction event happen at the Expo, but a very special panel discussion featuring six of the inductees will take place just prior to the ceremony. In sadder news, we say goodbye to one of the “As Seen On TV” industry’s founding fathers, Mike Ackerman, who passed away in January. If you missed the link above to these two big stories (and more), click here to take a look: Field Reports February
  • When I received the initial 3Q 2013 short-form DRTV media billings information from Kantar Media, the decline was eye-opening. After all, the year’s first two quarters had been a struggle for all media billings areas we cover. But these were brutal. Fortunately, the Kantar team sent a note along, not too far after the initial E-mail, with an explanation for its change in methodology late in 2012 that is playing a role in the losses it’s reported so far in 2013. So, while short-form media billings are still down — and the market is mirroring the long-form space by moving more of its dollars away from the expensive cable space — the losses aren’t as horrifying as once believed. For more on 3Q short-form DRTV billings (and Kantar’s explanation), click here: Kantar Clarifies Dour 3Q Short-Form Results
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note riffs on how healthcare marketers — forced to become more agile and more aggressive due to the new Affordable Care Act and an aging populace — are becoming the leaders in showing all vertical markets how best to become direct, digital, data-driven marketing experts. The timing couldn’t be better, coming along a month after the debut of Response‘s new look and new tagline. In addition to our cover feature on Premera Blue Cross, the issue also includes a feature on how an array of healthcare marketers are finding new ways to gain and maintain customers. For more of my thoughts, here’s the link once again: Healthcare Marketers Point the Way to Marketing’s Future

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Dec 17

Response November: Holly Madison and eDiets; Second-Screen Challenges and Media’s Continuing Struggle

The November issue of Response has been available online since just prior to Thanksgiving. Hopefully, if you’re one of our readers, you’ve taken a look at it, but — if not — here’s some back story on the cover feature highlighting As Seen on TV Inc. CEO Ronald C. Pruett, Jr., and eDiets entrepreneur Holly Madison, as well as a number of the other key pieces in the issue:

  • The November cover story is a great combination of old friends and new relationships. Pruett was first featured on the cover of Response during his stint with Liberty Medical. He then went on to serve on our Advisory Board during his time at the helm of Mercury Media Holdings. Now, at ASTV, parent of online marketer eDiets, Pruett returns to the cover spotlight with former “Girls Next Door” star Madison, whose post-pregnancy diet plan is part of a new direction for eDiets. With the help of eDiets’ PR firm and some more social chats with Pruett, it feels as if I was able to wrangle this story at the perfect moment. Pruett’s vision for where eDiets is headed in the crowded online/TV diet space is intriguing. And how eDiets structured its deal and relationship with Madison is a new step in the world of celebrity “endorsers.” If you missed the link above, here it is once again: For eDiets, Mobile and Social Are No Fad
  • The multi-screen universe continues to play a bigger role in marketing plans, and with the holiday season upon us, we took the time to look deeper into strategies to best take advantage of consumers’ continuing use of second and third screens. One of Response’s most veteran freelancers, Bridget McCrea, spoke with some leading media agency insiders (representing Havas Edge, Cannella Response Television and Icon Media Direct) about how to make campaigns work in this new media environment. If you missed the link to their thoughts above, here it is: Screens, Screens … Everywhere Screens
  • The InterMedia Group of Companies returns to the DRMA Spotlight in this update. Company leader Bob Yallen was featured in the May issue DRMA Spotlight, and we doubled back with him to find out how 2013 has been for InterMedia and the rest of the DR industry. If you missed the link above to this special update, click here: Staying a Step Ahead. If you’d like to watch the original video interview from the May issue with Yallen, click here: DRMA Spotlight Video — InterMedia
  • The lowlights kept on coming in this month’s quarterly media billings results, as the short-form DRTV market’s 2Q 2013 billings continued the year’s horror show. A massive 25-percent free fall sucked nearly $300 million away from the total’s registered in second-quarter 2012. When will the bad news end for 2013 DR media billings? For a full look at all the categorical and outlet results, here’s the link: Short-Form DRTV Media Billings’ 2013 Tumble Continues
  • Speaking of media market issues, my Editor’s Note this month asks for answers to 2013’s media malaise? A year ago, in the same space, I raved about the power of the DR media marketplace. Well, what an unwelcome difference a year makes. How can the market get back on track as we head into 2014? Here’s the link: Media Malaise Presents Big Challenges

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!

Jun 02

Response May: Vitaquest’s Chemistry, Expo Recap and the Annual Cable Network Directory

RES0513_CV1The May issue of Response has been available online for a couple of weeks now. Hopefully, if you’re one of our readers, you’ve taken a look at it, but — if not — here’s some back story on the cover feature on Vitaquest and Charlie Mooney, as well as a number of the other key pieces in the issue:

  • Once again, a link with Response Expo was crucial in bringing the cover story on Vitaquest Intl., and its marketing leader, Charlie Mooney, to our readers. Mooney spoke on a panel at our event in early April, after some discussions with him about he could become more involved with the event and the magazine. His expertise in the supplement space — and not just in marketing, but also creating product — shone through during his panel appearance, and his excitement about the use of direct response was just as powerful. It became obvious that Mooney and Vitaquest should be immediately considered for the special opportunity that is a Response cover, and following up immediately on his appearance at the show made great sense. Here’s the link again, if you missed it above: Just the Right Chemistry
  • Once again, the May issue means the reappearance of Response‘s annual Cable Network Directory. This is one of the magazine’s most popular pieces of research, and in 2013, we had more than 120 cable networks — an all-time high — respond to our requests for demo and sales contact information. If you have any role in the direct response media space, this list is crucial to your business. If you missed the link above, click here: 2013 Cable Network Directory
  • Our monthly Field Reports and But Wait, There’s More sections took a long look back at the news, networking and excitement of April’s Response Expo. From Bob Knight’s stellar opening keynote to Tone Loc’s exciting performance at the event’s closing night party, the 2013 Expo was packed more full of educational and networking experiences for our 3,000 attendees than any of the previous six events. To read about some of the event’s highlights, visit our Field Reports section and for a wide-ranging photo essay on the Expo, visit our But Wait, There’s More page. Additionally, the Expo’s full photo album can be reached on Flickr by clicking here: Response Expo in Pictures
  • In DRMA news, the Inter/Media Group of Companies returns to the Spotlight this month. Fresh of the posthumous induction of company founder Syd Yallen to the brand new Direct Response Hall of Fame, scion and current company leader Bob Yallen speaks about the growing influence of Inter/Media across the direct response advertising universe — from media to creative to breaking new ground in celebrity endorsements. As part of the package, I also worked on a video interview with Bob Yallen for a piece that was edited by the Inter/Media team. If you missed the links above here’s the print story link: A Vast Array of Capabilities. And here’s the video link: DRMA Spotlight Inter/Media Video
  • Our latest analysis of the DR industry’s quarterly media billings results circles back to short-form DRTV billings’ 4Q 2012 results. Much like the prior month’s long-form report, the final 2012 numbers for short-form DRTV were cause for celebration, as the which were cause for excitement, as the quarter’s 3.4-percent increase solidified a 4.1-percent jump for the year as a whole. While some indicators suggested a further tightening of market testing, stronger pricing and the willingness of top marketers to double down on short-form spending for successful campaigns made 2012 the best year in a half-decade. For a full look at all the categorical and outlet results, here’s the link: 4Q 2012 Short-Form DRTV Media Billings Rise $35.5M
  • Finally, my Editor’s Note wonders if 2013 can maintain the great media momentum shown in these media billings results. With economic indicators slowly moving in a positive direction — even with some troubling fits and starts, consumer confidence numbers are now at a five-year high — and marketers looking more and more at driving direct response from all media outlets (TV, E-commerce and more), I have high hopes. If you missed the link to my the column above, here it is once again: Can 2013 Carry 2012’s Media Billings Momentum Forward?

Thanks again for reading and interacting with Response!