Forum: CTAM and the Power of Information


There was a time not too long ago when as long as a cable
operator knew a customer's name, address, phone number, service package and monthly rate,
he knew just about all that he had to know about that customer.

Boy, things have changed.

Back then, there were no real choices for consumers looking
for multichannel-subscription-television service. Short of erecting a 15-foot-high dish in
your yard, it was either do business with your local cable company or hit the highway.

Things have indeed changed.

Back then, cable operators had a handful of analog products
and packages, and they tried to sell the most units to the greatest number of people. It
was a system of attrition that promoted churn and that led to customers questioning the
value of their cable service.

Like we said, things have really changed.

Now, there are choices. There are options and, for every
option that a customer has, there is a company out there willing to extend itself to
please that person. And there are also many more service options within each of those

To that end, the most aggressive and sophisticated of these
companies have begun the arduous process of trying to learn as much as they can about the
individuals that comprise their primary and secondary markets. These companies understand
that there is a war going on. The battlefield is the American home, and the bounty is the
billions of dollars that Americans are willing to spend each year on information,
entertainment and communication services.

They also understand that the most useful weapon in
fighting this war will not be capital, or infrastructure, or even loyalty. These companies
understand that the trump card in this war will be information -- not just the gathering
of information, but understanding what the information means and developing an effective
business strategy based on that understanding.

And as the products that we offer move beyond simple analog
video and into the broad spectrum of digital services, information about the consumer will
be that much more important. Knowing what makes consumers tick will allow us to do more
than design marketable products: It will enable us to package and target the products that
we produce in a much more profitable manner.

Consider the power of information and how it might help us
to improve the cable business:

Knowledge about prior usage and willingness to purchase
similar products will allow operators to target their best customers and their most likely

Knowing the interests of the individuals within a
household, or the number of communication "appliances" in that house and the
location of each, will allow operators to craft marketing messages specifically for those

Knowing the ethnic roots, the psychographic makeup, or the
political disposition of a person will allow a company to touch "hot buttons" in
ways that no mass-media-delivered message ever could.

Knowing a person's past actions -- those as overt as
purchasing a television or as subtle as a mouse click -- will allow media companies to
eventually develop brand names, product lines and entire divisions based on defined and
demonstrated consumer behavior.

We are indeed standing at the dawn of a new age -- an era
in which information will become currency as precious and spendable as any that we've ever


Of course, what good is information without an effective
database through which to manage it?

For years, cable operators tried to mine their
billing-system databases for a mother lode of new basic and/or premium customers, but they
often came up with nothing more to show for their efforts than a lot of wasted time and
money. As a result, database marketing became the dreaded "D" word among cable

But that was back when operators were selling a handful of
analog products to a captive marketplace. It was also back when the amount of information
available on potential customers was limited to a few very broad, nonspecific
categorizations. And it was back when cable operators' expectations were framed in the
context of their historic, unprecedented and exponential growth -- not in the context of
today's competitive marketplace.

This is a new day and age. Today, the products being
developed by this industry are as sophisticated as the data-management tools that
marketers have at their disposal, and they are as varied and complex as the marketplace
for which they've been created.

Cable marketers can no longer just open their doors and
sell "bottom up" or "top down" through an array of programming tiers.
They now have to creatively package analog and digital video, voice, data and more, and
they must market those services in a cost-effective manner.

Central to this will be a thorough understanding of the
power of information -- the effective use of the company's database and quality targeted


For more than 10 years, the day before the Western Show was
a date on which CTAM explored the many potential new revenue streams that the industry had
the opportunity to cultivate. Pay-per-view, telephony, home shopping and high-speed access
to the Internet were among the many concepts that were explored at length by CTAM speakers
and attendees.

This year, CTAM is once again offering a conference about
revenue, and one might even consider it "new revenue." However, it's new revenue
from an old source. The CTAM Pre-Western Show Workshop, "New Tools for the New Rules
-- Targeting Customers in a Competitive World," will provide a step-by-step plan for
maximizing the revenue potential from the same set of customers that you have now, as well
as from the nonsubscribers that you've been trying to crack for years.

It will teach you how to create relationships with many
different consumer groups. It will teach you how to use technology to avoid costly
mistakes when creating your marketing plans. And it will teach you how to use database
marketing to retain existing customers, to manage potential new ones and to increase the
lifetime value of all of them.

In a day and age when marketers are being held accountable
for every dollar that they spend, and as terms such as "ROI" (return on
investment) become more and more a part of their lexicon, a conference such as this one
will pay dividends to even the most seasoned cable marketer. You will learn, among other
things, how to set up a segmentation program, how to use your database to effectively
track your various marketing messages and how to develop strategies to increase premium

In fact, CTAM is so confident in the value of our program
that we guarantee that you will take home at least three ideas to help you improve your
business, or we will give you your money back.

We urge you to prepare yourself for the "Information
Age." Come and learn from experts -- people like Mark Gill of Miramax,
database-marketing guru David Shepard and MediaOne's Judi Allen -- and find out just how
valuable a clear, concise, targeted message can be. Learn how to run your business better
by simply using the data at your fingertips. And, most important, learn how the most
successful companies in the not-too-distant future will operate.

See you in Anaheim. We guarantee that it will be worth the

Charlie Nooney, senior vice president, sales and affiliate
marketing at Disney Channel, and Rob Sadler, vice president, marketing at Time Warner
Cable, are co-chairs of the CTAM Pre-Western Show Workshop, to be held next Monday and
Tuesday at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, Calif.