Wired Science

Jul 21, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The CTAM Summit may feel like a science fair this year.
The association expects nearly 2,300 attendees for the Seattle conference, which focuses on the art and science of marketing. “It’s really the first time we have ever focused a big chunk of attention on the science side of marketing,” said Char Beales, president and CEO of the association.
Cable marketing traditionally has been broad-based in terms of sending the same message to everyone. That needs to change, Ms. Beales said. “Cable needs to get more sophisticated on the science side and figuring out what works,” she said. That means placing a dollar value on the return on investment from every marketing campaign and applying business principles to marketing.
To further that goal, CTAM has assembled a speaker lineup that includes executives from outside of the cable industry who played pivotal roles in marketing their organizations, such as Michael George, chief marketing officer and VP of U.S. consumer marketing and e-business with Dell, and Maureen A. McGuire, VP, worldwide marketing management and integrated marketing communications at IBM. Dell was instrumental in creating a new channel for distribution, and IBM has been influential in branding, a key topic at the summit.
Once the summit is over CTAM will turn its attention to the implementation of a new project to enable programmers and operators to work more closely and cooperatively, Ms. Beales said, though she declined to provide more specific details. “That’s a lot of what we would like to do this year and going forward. Cable has more intense competition and new products to figure out and needs to work together,” she said.
Need to See to Get
The key challenge for cable this year is communicating to customers the value of the new products and services. The success of cable modems, for instance, came once users could see how fast they were. The same will hold true for video-on-demand and personal video recorders-they are products that consumers need to see to “get,” Ms. Beales said.
Free on-demand and subscription video-on-demand both have been essential in creating familiarity and comfort with the on-demand concept. These on-demand packages will remain important because day and date parity with the video store for hit movies is attainable in the future, she said. “Hollywood has a lot of different businesses they are in,” Ms. Beales said. “Home video and DVD are very important, and how does cable fit into the mix? I think cable has to market [VOD] aggressively and effectively, and I think most [cable operators] are committed to doing that.”
Another key issue at the conference will be multicultural marketing. “It’s an important topic, and I think many companies feel like they have just gotten started,” she said.
Wednesday’s closing session, “The Mad Science of Rebranding,” will feature Comcast’s Dave Watson, executive VP of sales, marketing and customer service, who will discuss the integration and rebranding of all the AT&T systems; and Heidi Diamond, president, television, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, who faces the task of rebuilding Martha Stewart’s brand.
Also in the lineup are technologists Robert Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks; and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The projected attendance of 2,290 is down slightly from last year’s final tally of 2,419. Last year’s convention was held in Boston, and East Coast sites always draw a little better, Ms. Beales said.