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!

Jun 21

Response May: ‘Modern’ Business Partnerships

Response May 2016When we finished posting the June issue of Response online yesterday, it was a rude awakening to realize I’d yet to recap our May issue here on the blog. With a cover story about e-commerce start-up Touch of Modern, the issue also includes a look at the business solutions space, the spring edition of our semi-annual media buying & planning guide, and our annual Cable Network Directory. Here’s some more on these and a few other items which you should note:

  • The cover story on Touch of Modern has its roots in a meeting during the eTail West trade show in Palm Desert, Calif., in late February. There, I connected with the company’s PR lead, Ashley Cummings, and one of its four founders, Jonathan Wu. Immediately intrigued by the 4-year old company’s focus on the online male shopping market and the back story of its four co-founders, I worked with Cummings to bring the company’s VP of marketing, Matt Gehring, to April’s Response Expo as a speaker. At the same time, Cummings was quick to jump on the opportunity when my original May cover story fell through, getting me on the phone quickly with not only Gehring, but two of the other co-founders, Jerry Hum and Dennis Liu. The resulting story touches on some of the most cutting-edge performance-based marketing tactics — and powerful results — that we’ve discussed in Response. If you missed it above, here’s the link: A Modern Flash
  • During the past 18 months, our coverage of the business solutions space has mirrored its ascent as a key group utilizing performance-based marketing — recall our cover features on such leaders as Vistaprint, Wix, Boingo Wireless, and Square. This month, freelancer Doug McPherson takes a look at the wider space and how it is reaching and servicing small businesses and consumers alike. Using online and offline media — and relying heavily on the data those interactions drive — business solutions marketers like Weebly and Pagemodo are carving out big time success. If you missed the link above but want to check out the story, click here: A Wiz at Biz
  • The spring edition of our ongoing media buying & planning guide feature usually includes thoughts from leaders on the network and MVPD side of the business. And it also includes our annual Cable Network Directory, which shares demographic and contact information from major national TV media outlets with our readers. This issue’s edition is no different. The feature story focuses heavily on changing how changing TV technology, as well as the ongoing presidential campaign, is affecting the media landscape. Meanwhile, this year’s Directory is our biggest ever — nearly 140 outlets are included. If you missed them above, here are links to the feature and to the directory:
  • This month’s Field Reports section is notable for its look back at April’s Response Expo. From the opening keynote by famed World Trade Center wire walker Philippe Petit to the closing night soiree at SeaWorld San Diego, we were thrilled to host more than 3,000 performance-based marketers once again for networking, education, and a lot of fun. (Also, don’t miss a chance to look back in the Expo in photos: a 2-page spread on the event makes up this month’s “But Wait, There’s More” seHaire Moderates at Response Expoction). While I do love holding that printed issue of Response in my hand at the end of each month, when it comes to job satisfaction, there’s nothing like the rush of receiving the personal thanks and congratulations we’ve been lucky to earn through these first 10 Expos. We look forward to returning to San Diego with everyone next April. If you missed the link to the news wrap above, here it is once again: Field Reports May 2016
  • Our monthly direct response TV and radio media billings return to the short-form DRTV space for fourth-quarter 2015 results. And — like many of you, I presume, when it comes to this market — I’m ready to kiss 2015 goodbye. Kantar Media‘s shift in measuring the Hispanic media space — and the major reduction in estimated Hispanic media spending it engendered — was the overwhelming reason that the year’s results for the short-form space showed a 26.3-percent decrease. In fact, more than $3 of every $4 lost in 2015 was attributed to a major rollback in Hispanic media spending. For a full look at 4Q 2015 short-form DRTV media billings, click here: Kantar Measurement Shifts Push 2015 Short-Form DR Billings Off a Cliff
  • Finally, when I wrote my Editor’s Note piece for this issue, I was in a rather bad mood. Fortunately, aside from a single line referring cryptically to the reason for that mood in the story’s next-to-last paragraph, I was able to turn that negative feeling into a positive look at how partnerships can be a wonderful driving force in both our business and personal lives. If you’ve read this piece before reading this post, let me know if you had any idea that I actually was incredibly angry right before writing this column. I’d love to hear about it. If you missed the link above, click here to check it out: The Power of Partnership

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!