Ops Want Innovative Twists to Marketing Programs


Programmers must continue to come up with innovative marketing programs with extensive lead times in order to partner effectively with MSOs.

While they had their place in the 1980s and early 1990s, "creating off-the-shelf programs just doesn't work any more," said Cox Communications Inc. executive vice president of operations Pat Esser. "If you put something together that can be used year-round and by everybody, how valuable is it?"

Esser's remarks came during a session at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing's Collaborative Marketing Seminar.

He also talked about the value of networks building programs that extend beyond operators' video business, to help tout their advanced services. Examples: a pair of recent campaigns with TV Land, trumpeting Cox's telephony services that used commercials featuring the shoe phone from Get Smart
and the bat phone from the 1960s Batman

"TV Land is a comfort-food brand, that's real solid and has quality programming," Jessica Heacock, senior vice president of affiliate marketing at MTV Networks, said during the session. "We thought it was a great way for customers to try a new product that they might have felt nervous about. It was a nice brand rub."

Overall, Heacock said MTVN has scaled back the number of marketing programs, and is better coordinating calendars among all its networks. "We're not coming at [operators] every week any more. We focus on a couple of programs for each network that provide value."

The panelists disconnected, though, over the amount of information that should be shared. Heacock talked about the value of quantifying the effects programs have on inquiries, traffic and, ultimately, sales as a means to fully evaluate an initiative's success.

Although Esser recognized Heacock's concerns, he said Cox was reluctant to part with the numbers because "you can't trust" what will be done with the data. They could end up being "part of the next negotiation" down the hall, he said, or the results could "wind up on the cover of Multichannel News."