DRMA Spotlight: Keeping an Edge1 Oct, 2014 By: Thomas Haire Response
Cannella Response Television adds short-form buying as Tony Besasie and Rob Medved push the boundaries of DR technology and media.
“We’ve always been innovators in the industry — we’ve disrupted it a few times,” says Rob Medved, Burlington, Wis.-based CEO of Cannella Response Television. “Like any business, you die if you stay stagnant. We’re on the front edge of what fills the funnel for our clients. We have to be the eyes and ears for change.”
Along with President Tony Besasie, Medved and the team at the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member company are looking forward to celebrating their 30th anniversary next year. But, as Medved noted above, don’t let that long run fool you. Cannella is working hard to be on the edge of innovation in serving the DR space — and it’s using research as a key tool to stay in front.
“What’s been most enlightening is the resiliency of, particularly, the long-form DRTV marketplace,” Besasie says. “We just fielded a study in the last quarter of 2013 that gave me incredible confidence about the long-form marketplace — about the consumer and how things are evolving. It just reinforces the fact that long-form DRTV transacts.”
Besasie says the findings in that study — which was conducted in concert with Script to Screen Inc., and M2 Marketing and Management Inc. — should be exciting for those looking into using long-form DRTV. “The long-form consumer tends to be younger than the perception,” he says. “The sweet spot is 30-39 years old. They tend to have higher household income, more people in the house and higher levels of education than the non-infomercial buyer. They consume a lot more television. And 80 percent of long-form customers are satisfied with the purchase that they make.”
He also notes that the study finds long-form buyers are active online. “They have a higher adoption of digital devices,” Besasie adds. “They share their purchases. Seventy-four percent of people who bought said they would recommend or have recommended to a friend. That’s very different from what most people perceive a DRTV purchaser to be.”
Medved says that the research shows the powerful link today between DRTV and the Internet. “There’s a great wealth of information out there in social media and reviews, as well as the manufacturer’s website, that give the consumer this incredible control and this access to information to validate their purchase,” he says. “More than 55 percent go to the manufacturer’s website before they make the purchase. Almost half of the people search out reviews. They want to hear from other people that the testimonials they see on TV are validated and upheld within the social community.”
The results of the survey, Besasie says, are likely to prompt the Cannella team to continue to push ahead in the research space. “We’re now going to be looking at doing research on an annual basis for the industry,” he says. “We welcome more partners to come forward and ask us what they’d like to learn.”
It’s not surprising to hear this from Besasie, given the fact that he and Medved believe in the power of technology and insight in today’s changing direct response world. “We brought on a senior director of IT about a year ago and we’ve been working a lot with our own internal systems, upgrading them, bringing in more reporting and analytical capabilities,” he says.
Medved adds, “It’s a data-rich industry. It’s about time people start paying more attention to the data and integrating their analytics into media buys.”
A key move for the Cannella team in 2014 was its expansion into the short-form DRTV media buying space. “We’re starting small, being very methodical about our approach, but it’s just been a natural progression. We’ve been thinking about it for many years and pulled the trigger this year,” Besasie says.
Medved adds, “We’ve spent the past four or five years expanding our performance-based space, focusing on our long-form clients, moving into a new building, developing business intelligence and data analytics. We have a good solid foundation now to build upon in the short-form world.”
Besasie also contends that making the move now allowed the company to maximize its benefits. “When we ventured into short-form this year, we had an advantage. That was to start fresh and take advantage of the latest technology,” he says. “We wanted to make sure we were getting systems that could automate reporting and turn it around to clients more quickly.”
Maximizing technology and client service is a continual theme when talking to Besasie and Medved. This focus allows Cannella to respond more quickly to the changing trends in the business. And Besasie says that while many see certain trends — such as media fragmentation — impacting the direct response business negatively, he says they also provide great opportunities.
“Media fragmentation has always benefitted us, particularly in the long-form space, because as you recall this industry started with overnights and weekends,” he says. “With Cannella’s aggressive expansion of the long-form space by launching dedicated channels, we’ve now been able to reach new audiences, reach new dayparts and really put long-form in front of consumers. Call that fragmentation? Absolutely. Call it extended reach? Absolutely.”
He also says DR marketers are in perfect position to capitalize on another trend. “There’s another trend going on — the shift to people shopping from home. I’m old enough to remember when you wouldn’t buy clothing online. You never bought shoes online. Now you’ve got Zappos that sells shoes to millions of people,” he says. “Look at shopping behavior — more people are shopping from home than ever. People are much more comfortable shopping from home. That bodes well for the DRTV industry. We’re a shop-from-home sales channel. Advertising is moving in our direction — in DRTV’s direction.”
Where does Cannella plan on being during the next few years in this shifting landscape? “When you look at the direct response space, the long-form space as it sits on traditional television platforms today is fairly stagnant, quite honestly,” Medved says. “Within that space, though, there’s a lot that can be done to further expand the average order size and to change the creative to adapt to the consumer’s needs. But short-form — it’s a big ticket. It’s three-quarters of direct response television spend, and we want to participate in that. We also think there are a lot of opportunities in video direct response in general. We’re a video direct response company, and that’s what we’re most interested in — following the eyeballs, staying on top of the trends, being an innovator to make sure that we’re interrupting that search and discovery of content space.”
Besasie adds, “Everybody in the digital space would concur that video is the most effective form of communication online. Video — whether it’s television, or a VOD environment or an OTT environment, or just straight digital — is still the most compelling form of marketing communications and method to sell product. That’s where our focus has been. We think that short-form is just another piece of that video ecosystem. Digital will be there as well.” ■