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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports May 2011

1 May, 2011 By: Jackie Jones, Thomas Haire Response


Response Expo 2011 Spotlight: Rosenbaum Makes Response Expo Part of 'Curation Nation' 

By Thomas Haire (thaire@questex.com) 

Steven Rosenbaum, New York-based founder and CEO of the Web’s largest video curation platform, Magnify.net, and author of the recently released “Curation Nation” — an exploration of the changing worlds of publishing, consumer content and brand-centric curation — will kick off the educational sessions at Response Expo 2011 in San Diego with a special talk May 3 at 10 a.m.

Rosenbaum’s work as an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker includes his film chronicling 9/11: “7 Days in September,” which gathered more than 500 hours of video and created a curated journey through the eyes of 28 filmmakers and citizen storytellers.

Q: How did you first become involved with the concept of “curation”?

A: Curation emerged as a solution to a problem. The problem was — and is — information overload. We’re living in a world of data deluge. Google’s Eric Schmidt has famously said from the beginning of human civilization through the year 2003, a total of “five exabytes of information” was created. Now “that much information is created every two days.” Now that everyone is making content, with Tweets, Tumblr posts, Facebook status updates and more, how can we filter the flood, and make sure we get the information we need and want — not just a firehose of random stuff? Curation is the new magic of the Web that gives humans the tools to connect with other humans — to trust human creators of content and context.

Q: When did you start Magnify.net and what does it do for clients?

A: Magnify.net is a platform that gives brands, publishers and media the ability to harness the power of the Web to publish video channels. Today, Magnify.net powers 85,000 sites including New York Magazine, Bicycling.com, Mediaite.com, and Patagonia. Brands are becoming publishers, and if they don’t curate the conversation around their brand, then they’re just letting their most powerful product advocates — and most unhappy customers — have the conversation without them.

Q: What prompted you to write “Curation Nation”? What do you hope to accomplish with it?

A: I began to think that there was a need to point the way out of the forest, and give people a vision of the future that wasn’t simply an overwhelming increase in content. I went out and interviewed some of the smartest folks I could find, and expected there to be a debate about whether the future was curation or computer algorithms. What I found was that almost everyone agreed: The future is about hitting the outside edge of what computers could do — and how humans were going to be the critical new filters and finders of the Web. I want to share the vision of curation with the world, and I also want to put computers in their place. They do a good job of moving around data in big blocks. But they don’t create unique creative expressions, or find patterns that are based more on intuition than algorithms.

Q: How did “7 Days in September” get underway and what was the best thing about working on it?

A: I’m a New Yorker and on Sept. 11, 2001, I was running a large film and video company that I had founded in New York City. I had amazing filmmakers I was working with, so we went down to the site, and documented what was happening. During the next few months, I reached out to New Yorkers and offered to talk with people who had shot video the week of 9/11. I met hundreds of people. What I did was curate a group of storytellers, both amateur and professional. The result was a new kind of film: one that has a shared voice. The best thing was being able to help individuals create a collective voice.

Q: What are your two biggest predictions for the next 12 months?

A: I think books will emerge rapidly as a powerful new storytelling medium — mixing readers’ hunger for context and quality and new tablet devices like iPad. Video, photos and text will be the new book — and it will happen quickly. On the Web, I think you’ll be stunned at the speed with which video will become central to the way we expect the Web to provide us with information. Shopping, travel, social, history and more will all shift video from a secondary information offering to a primary one.

Q: What are two of the hottest topics facing DR marketers?

A: Privacy: It won’t take but one major controversy, and you’ll see consumers demand more and more control over their data. Secondly, transparency: It used to be you could offer a product, and if it wasn’t expensive, folks would spend $29.95 and not mind if it didn’t quite work right. This is no longer the case. People will now search on your product, or your name, and your reputation will be immediately visible. Your reputation will follow you forever.

Q: What are your plans for the future with Magnify.net?

A: Magnify.net is poised to be the next generation for brands and publishing around multimedia content. We’ve believed in channelized video since 2007. Now, YouTube is going to re-build as channels, but the world has moved forward. Curation is the new magic of the Web — and video is central to the power of curated content.


DRMA Marketer of the Year Spotlight: Hampton Direct on DRTV Winning Streak

By Thomas Haire (thaire@questex.com)

In its October 2010 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Second Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In the November 2010 issue, we began spotlighting the other seven top nominees in a monthly section. This month, we caught up with Steve Heroux, founder and CEO of Williston, Vt.-based Hampton Direct.

Since its launch four years ago, Hampton Direct has tripled its sales results, and credits product-savviness from both a marketer and consumer point of view, compelling offers and designing brands for long-term success.

Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top 10 nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?

A: It’s an honor to be acknowledged by our peers after a short time in the DRTV business and to be among nominees who have been in the industry for decades is truly gratifying. It’s validation that Hampton Direct, which started as a family business within a niche market, has grown into a global player in the DR industry.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A: Having introduced several exciting new products and expanding our existing brands’ product lines, we have more than tripled our 2008 sales numbers. During the past 12 months, noteworthy milestones also include integrating our operations and distribution into a single 66,000 square-foot facility in Williston and increasing staff by nearly 20 percent. In addition, we have instituted a product development department that is able to take concepts from internal ideas or inventors, develop and launch them into national retailers in a short period.

Q: How did the successful products you had over the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changed the way you do business? If so, how?

A: Our mission is to create innovative, cost-effective brands that save people space, money, time and effort. Essentially, we make their lives easier, more comfortable and efficient. Hampton’s success over the past year has been in alignment with both our mission and our business objective. Based on valuable consumer and retail partner feedback, the success of our Twin Draft Guard (with more than 15 different SKUs) and WonderHanger brands has enabled us to develop several new line extensions. TotalPillow, PajamaJeans and Furniture Fix are recently introduced products that fit well with our mission. All signs indicate these will continue to be strong performers with multiple line extensions.

Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?

A: With cost-cutting on the minds of millions of Americans, and consumers globally, we have focused on building brands that provide money-saving solutions and solve everyday problems. Twin Draft Guard, WonderHanger and Furniture Fix, for instance, are affordable answers to pricey alternatives. In addition, products like TotalPillow and PajamaJeans are feel-good, cozy brands that consumers seek in changing times such as these.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?

A: We are confident that our established brands will continue to grow with the aid of line extensions and new product introductions. We have several innovative new brands that are being developed in-house and a few that were brought to us by inventors. We also anticipate TotalPillow, PajamaJeans and Furniture Fix playing a significant role in 2011 success.

Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2011? Why?

A: Categories that are likely to remain strong are energy-saving, home, kitchen, personal care, fitness and others that have been successful in 2009 and 2010. Because the economy is not likely to turn around overnight, consumers are likely to purchase affordable items and feel-good, comfort brands. The predominance of social media sites, including blogs and social-networking sites, make word-of-mouth, good and bad, inevitable.

Q: Does today’s consumer respond better to short-form or long-form DRTV? Which of these two formats are best supported by other media, including online, mobile, print and radio?

A: Both short- and long-form can successfully drive online, TV and retail sales. Typically, the product determines the format. In 2011, we see one or two products that lend themselves to long-form, and we have capable partners and an internal team who can make this work.


Mobile Browsing of Video Content Up 40 Percent in 4Q 2010, Nielsen Research Says

By Jackie Jones (jackiejones@questex.com)

NEW YORK — The number of U.S. consumers viewing video on their mobile devices increased about 40 percent in both the third and fourth quarters of 2010, according to new research from The Nielsen Co.

There were about 25 million mobile subscribers browsing content via their cellular devices, according to Nielsen’s “State of the Media” report.

“The growing popularity of mobile video is due, in part, to the rapid adoption of media-friendly mobile devices, including smartphones,” the Nielsen report said. “Over time, it has also become easier to find, view and share mobile video, either via mobile apps or the mobile Web.”

Mobile video viewers watched an average of 4 hours and 20 minutes of mobile video per month in 3Q and 4Q 2010 — a 33-percent and 20-percent increase year-over-year in each quarter, respectively, according to the Nielsen report.

Though the overall audience for mobile video is still less than 10 percent of all mobile users in the U.S., the growing amount of consumers who are purchasing smartphones is expected to drive the trend upward even further in the future. Whereas only 23 percent of U.S. mobile users had smartphones in 4Q 2009, 31 percent of consumers owned smartphones by the end of 2010, Nielsen said.

Consumers ages 25 to 34 accounted for the greatest percentage (nearly one-third) of mobile video watchers in 4Q 2010, the report found. Those ages 35 to 49 comprised 27 percent of mobile video watchers, and 18- to 24-year-olds made up 17 percent.

Though teenagers made up the smallest percentage of mobile video watchers at just 11 percent, those who did fall into that category were the most ardent viewers, spending 7 hours and 13 minutes a month browsing video content via their mobile devices.


Latest Census Figures Reaffirm Growing Influence of Hispanic Marketplace

By Jackie Jones (jackiejones@questex.com)

NEW YORK — Marketers not including the Hispanic consumer group in their advertising strategies are missing out on nearly 56 percent of all population growth in the U.S., according to 2010 Census figures.

The latest data reaffirm the increasing power of the U.S. Hispanic marketplace, according to Univision Communications Inc., a media company whose assets include Univision Network, one of the most-watched Spanish-language broadcast television networks in the U.S.

“For Univision, the 2010 Census figures validate what we’ve known for years: Hispanics are fueling U.S. population growth and redefining the changing face of America,” said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks. “These figures speak to the critical role Hispanics will play in defining the future of this country.”

The new Census data are of particular note to brands looking to reach all available consumer groups in the marketplace, especially those with the fast-growing and influential capabilities of Hispanics. There are now 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S. — one of every six people — and Hispanic population growth surpassed the most recent 2008 Census projections for Hispanics in 2010 by 1.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census figures.

Hispanics contributed 55.5 percent of the total U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2010, solidifying their position as the second-largest demographic in the U.S., and grew by a total of 43 percent.

The figures are further encouragement to marketers who are shifting some of their focus to Hispanic consumers.

“The Census numbers reinforce our belief in emphasizing the Hispanic Market as an area of growth for eLayaway,” said Sergio Pinon, found and chief marketing officer of eLayaway, which recently launched a Spanish version of its website. “Moreover, as the Hispanic community and the overall online and brick-and-mortar retail markets discover our services, we expect it to reflect in strong sales growth in 2011 and beyond.”


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