DRMA Spotlight: Staying a Step Ahead1 Nov, 2013 By: Thomas Haire Response
As it heads toward its 40th birthday, the InterMedia Group of Companies strives to remain spry and agile in an ever-changing marketplace.
In May, we turned the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Spotlight on the InterMedia Group of Companies®, a collection of 13 business units based in Woodland Hills, Calif. (with an office in New York) that, combined, create an agency with media billings of $600 million. Robert B. Yallen, the company’s president and CEO, discussed the array of services offered by InterMedia that set it apart in helping clients find DR success in a multitude of ways.
Recently, Response caught up with Yallen again for this Spotlight Update.
Q: How has 2013 treated InterMedia and the DR market as a whole?
We will be celebrating our 40th year in business in January 2014. That milestone has inspired us to review, reflect and take a hard look at our overall company from the ground up. This past year, we have added new technology, research platforms and various business units to ensure we are poised for continued growth and success.
Even though the media marketplace has had numerous challenges, 2013 has been a big growth year for InterMedia. We’ve been fortunate to win several big reviews in the E-commerce category, including the recent addition of ShoeDazzle, as well as in the considered purchase category (ClearChoice Dental), and financial services category (Buy Right Visa).
We have added new business units, including InterMedia Entertainment, which specializes in intellectual property (IP) and celebrity spokesperson deals.
Consumers are not responding like they used to. Now, it’s all about maximizing the lifetime value of each customer. Savvy marketers have developed multiple touch points — continuity, upsells, cross-sells — and are constantly looking for an edge.
Additionally — due to media fragmentation, higher unit rates, increased DR competition and non-direct brands using a hybrid media approach — it is getting increasingly difficult to scale campaigns. The changing landscape, where many consumers now utilize multiple screens, has led to increased initial response to the advertiser’s website. This dynamic necessitates that agencies develop attribution models that not only account for the increase of digital response, but also are able to adapt to both the target demographics and advertising category.
One trend that has increased during the past five years is for products to move into the retail channel at a quicker pace. Many of our clients simultaneously maximize the DR channel while aggressively gaining retail distribution.
InterMedia’s media optimization and tracking program, Accutrak®, has kept pace through timely revisions to its algorithm in order to be able to accurately distinguish performance.
Q: How is InterMedia seeking to expand its offerings to current and new clients?
Services and/or products without qualitative differences across a marketplace are considered a commodity. Further, these products or services are fully or partially fungible — goods or products whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution where there is one universal market. Therefore, we have worked very strategically to de-commoditize our organization — a rarity in an industry where work done by one agency is often indistinguishable from another.
First, we can take a product or service from inception to the marketplace and maximize all channels of distribution including retail. Further, we have developed proprietary technologies that are critical in maximizing our clients’ ROI on their advertising investments. Finally, we have developed a suite of proprietary networks — including the CPM Network™, which is comprised of 87 million homes throughout the U.S. We aggregate local media to create our own unwired platform that we deliver to our clients at a deep discount.
Our performance based company, MediaPoint Network®, has added the National Impression Network™ to its suite of performance-based vehicles. For categories such as E-commerce, this network provides guaranteed audience delivery (based upon a CPM model) at a substantial discount to cash media.
Q: How is InterMedia helping its clients respond to the continued fragmentation of the TV viewing audience?
Readily available TV content on digital platforms, major media companies enabling their content online and on mobile, video-on-demand (VOD), interactive TV, and the rapid adoption of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, have given rise to a consumer that values on-demand and on-the-go TV consumption.
Although millions of consumers still watch their programming from the traditional TV platform, more consumers connect with video content via non-traditional platforms. Media companies seek to maximize audience enjoyment and engagement, while agencies still need to ensure that advertisers maximize effectiveness and reach to garner the greatest ROI for their ad dollars.
As media companies and marketers both continue to expand technology and emerging media into their overall mix, new insights are needed to understand consumers who use media in different ways and to guide the development of solid marketing and media strategies. InterMedia makes ongoing investments in relevant software and research studies that dissect how consumers use TV, Internet and mobile alone and in combination.
Accutrak is at the forefront of accurately attributing Web response. We’ve proven that certain audio recognition technology (such as Viggle) can be used as an incentivized response mechanism to facilitate a direct correlation.
Q: How is InterMedia developing its own technologies to better serve clients in an era of expanding technology for both marketers and consumers?
This year, InterMedia rolled out an enhanced robust Accutrak dashboard for media optimization and tracking, which provides our clients with real-time response data and actionable media intelligence. It is also crucial to maximize the effectiveness of the inbound component. Therefore, we’ve developed InterCallTrak™, an inbound call-tracking program that integrates with our other proprietary technology to further optimize results.
Finally, as an organization, we spend millions of dollars each year on primary and secondary research tools and programs. Because of the lack of existing research to measure those unique attributes that determine the efficacy of a celebrity spokesperson within the context of a DR marketing program, we developed the InterMedia Entertainment™ DR Star Index™ — a measurement tool that identifies, evaluates and ranks the best celebrities for DR products or services, taking into consideration geographic, demographic and psychographic factors.
Q: What are your future plans for the InterMedia Group of Companies?
Our strategy is concentrated around organic growth of our current client base by becoming the single resource that enables them to maximize their current brands, and introduce line-extensions and/or new brands or services to the marketplace. Additionally, we will continue to create complementary new business units in the advertising, media, marketing, entertainment, creative and communication sectors.
Finally, we are aggressively looking to acquire other companies that fit within our growth strategy: to increase market share, realize economies of scale, acquire unique technologies and enter new markets. At the core of this strategy is the understanding that acquiring the right company is a long process and not a singular event. ■