Tom Cruise fans will recall the classic scene in Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller “Minority Report” when lead character John Anderton walks through a shopping mall and a barrage of interactive, three-dimensional LED displays recognize and target him with personalized advertisements for Lexus, Guinness and American Express. When the movie was released in 2002, the notion of intelligent, individualized marketing seemed like a figment of Hollywood. Today, that scene is an uncanny glimpse of a future not too far from what mobile marketing technology — especially utilizing the booming smartphone market — has already achieved.
iSign Media, headquartered in Toronto, describes itself as a pioneer in interactive Bluetooth marketing. Its kiosks deliver marketing messages to Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices anywhere from three to 300 feet away. Unsolicited prompts are delivered to users who opt in to view the ad. Privacy issues are tempered by the fact that these Bluetooth prompts use a smartphone’s unique address to deliver the message for free, not the user’s phone number or email address.
“With each message, they can choose to ignore, accept or decline the ad, giving them the flexibility to control who, when and how they receive messages,” says Alex Romanov, iSign Media president and CEO. “After making a selection, our system can capture the response and logs it for future analysis.”
Consumers specify the types of products they like and enroll in loyalty programs with preferred retailers to customize the ads they receive. “If the consumer becomes a loyalty member to that store, ads can be customized to their shopping needs,” says Romanov. “Logic can be put into place to build profiles and have ads aligning to these profiles, such as sporting goods, makeup, etc. If a phone user accepts more ads that fit a given profile, then ads within this profile can be targeted to that individual phone user.”
iSign has received more than 2,500 orders for software licenses, and half will be integrated into kiosks owned by partners, including IBM, BlueStar and AOpen. There’s a pilot project currently running in Hawaii as the company plans to introduce Bluetooth marketing to several (undisclosed) U.S. cities in the near future.
Romanov also plans to bring his mobile technology to the television. “We are working on a solution to advertise from TV set top boxes and IPTV [Internet-enabled television], which will make TV advertising more measurable and accountable. Our goal is to be both an out-of-home and in-home advertising and data gathering solution to mobile devices with our patent pending solutions.”
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Mobile
The 2010 holiday season may finally put an end to the debate over whether mobile marketing has arrived. According to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), 59 percent of mobile users surveyed said they would use their mobile phone for holiday shopping. Several of the nation’s largest retailers, including Target and JCPenney, sent special offers and mobile coupons to their customers, and the National Retail Federation (NRF) cited mobile shopping as one of the top 10 holiday trends of the year.
As far back as direct response marketers can remember, health and fitness has always been a staple of success in the industry, and 2010 didn’t differ. With P90X by Beachbody, Body Makeover by Provida Life Sciences and Total Gym by Total Gym Fitness claiming the top three spots in the 2010 IMS Top 50 Long-Form Rankings, and big-brand names such as Shake Weight, eDiets, Bowflex and NordicTrack earning high honors among the top 50 spots in the IMS National Cable DR Spot Rankings, it’s clear health and fitness has kept up its stamina in the world of DR.
Many marketers are using tried-and-true DRTV methods to drive new evolving DR platforms while learning just how mutually beneficial the online sector and DRTV can be for products and programs in the health and fitness space.
“2010 has been a unique year for direct response. Trends have changed and fragmentation is more prevalent than ever. For marketers to stay ahead, covering all communication channels in their advertising efforts is extremely important,” says Olga Ackad, vice president of client services for Mercury Media’s long-form division. “The shift from phone orders to Web orders has been a huge contributor to the change in trends and it’s extremely important to consider orders from both avenues to truly gauge the success of a DRTV campaign.”
Honing in on Home
Even amid economic struggles, the health and fitness industry continues to see success because of the intrinsic motivation behind most consumers’ decisions to purchase a product.
“People want to take care of themselves, they want to treat themselves to a product that will make them better,” says David Savage, executive vice president of R2C Group and Cmedia and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board. “Even in tough times, one of the societal trends is that people are taking better care of themselves. People watch and research and purchase because they know these products can help them reach their goals.”
Direct response — both through DRTV and other emerging platforms — provides the perfect avenue for brands to connect with consumers in this mindset.
“The longer formats of DR — whether it’s 60 seconds or a half-hour — give room for the before and after’s, the results and depictions, and the testimonials of people saying, ‘Wow, I really love this product,’” Savage says.
Weight-loss services provider eDiets.com — ranked No. 8 in the IMS Top 50 Spots of 2010 — is one brand that continues to see growth. Just in time for the holidays — prime time for most to pack on the pounds — eDiets.com launched two new 30-, 60- and 120-second DRTV campaigns developed by R2C Group. The television spots offer consumer testimonials and drive customers to both a toll-free phone number and URL, where they can claim a one-week trial of free food to be delivered to their homes. The marketer’s Web site also features online lifestyle modification support to further help consumers lose weight.
“They’ve got multiple campaigns going on — both the home-delivery campaign and ‘The Biggest Loser’ meal plan supplied by eDiets.com,” Savage says. “They’ve experienced extreme growth in their business.”
A good mix of traditional DRTV and digital marketing has served eDiets well. Revenues for the marketer’s third-quarter 2010 were $6 million, a 42-percent increase from the $4.2 million of 3Q 2009, and early numbers from fourth quarter showed similar promise. In mid-November, eDiets reported meal-delivery sales of approximately $1.8 million for the month of October, compared to the $1.7 million of the entire fourth quarter of 2009, according to Kevin McGrath, president and CEO of eDiets.com.
“We are very pleased with the continued growth in our meal delivery business,” McGrath said at the time. “Our focus on expanding our customer base and improving gross margins continues to be effective.”
A continued mix of short- and long-form spots is the most effective strategy for health and fitness marketers, according to Savage.
“Many of the most successful marketers in health and fitness are using both short- and long-form: long to launch a product and short for front-end sales and to drive retail,” Savage says. “Long- and short-form really complement one another in this industry.”
Long-form media billings in third-quarter 2010 rose a slight 0.3 percent to $244,624,200. Though minimal, the increase is a positive change from the five-year low of 3Q 2009 when spending declined $21.1 million. This growth is the first seen for quarterly totals since third-quarter 2007, when spending broke the $300 million mark.
Other records of last year’s third quarter also took a reversal of fortunes, with the total number of time slots purchased declining by 427, a 0.1-percent dip, and the average cost of a half-hour block inching up a very slight $1.40 (0.4 percent). However, the average cost of a half-hour block in the third quarter is the second-lowest ever recorded.
Housewares Takes Turn for the Better
Nine of the 15 categories saw an increase in spending in third-quarter 2010 – similar to the second quarter of this year but an increase of two when compared to 3Q 2009. Many spending trends of 2Q 2010 carried over to the third quarter, with “Personal Development, Self-Help and Education” again seeing the greatest percentage spike of 59.3 percent ($13,482,100). However, “Housewares and Appliances” took a turn for the better, enjoying the biggest dollar increase — $21,875,400, a 41.2-percent jump.
“Health and Fitness” again took a hard hit this quarter, suffering the biggest dollar loss of $15,737,400 (a 33.8-percent dip), when compared to the third quarter of last year. The top percentage loser was “Crafts, Collectibles and Hobbies,” which took a 59.2-percent hit of $7,444,900.
Staying true to 3Q patterns going back to 2008, only one of the three forms of media distribution reported a gain this quarter. National cable advanced 6.6 percent ($8.7 million). Broadcast lost 1.9 percent, shrinking $1.8 million. In sharp contrast to last year’s third quarter, satellite took the hardest dollar and percentage hits, losing $6.1 million (23.1 percent).
The total number of time slots took a slight dip of just 427, a 0.1-percent loss when compared to 3Q 2009, pushing its total to 643,782. National cable decreased by 8,344 spots (5.7 percent) and satellite lost 12.8 percent of its market share with a decline of 10,375 spots. Broadcast was the sole outlet that saw an increase in the total number of time slots purchased, with a 4.2-percent jump of 18,292 spots.
The slight decrease in the number of time slots purchased pushed the average cost of a half-hour block of time up by 0.4 percent. Despite the $1.40 increase from 3Q 2009, it should be noted the amount is the second-lowest ever recorded, just behind the $378.58 reported in last year’s third quarter.
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