By Elizabeth Jensen
Special to TelevisionWeek
Expo TV has a unique challenge when it comes to promotion: It is a free on-demand channel only, with no linear network associated with it. “Our challenge is really to be able to generate awareness for the Expo TV brand and communicate to people what we’re about,” said Gordon Jones, VP of affiliate sales and corporate development for the New York-based network.
Launched in late 2004, Expo TV, which also has a Web site, calls itself a “video engine for demonstrating products,” said Mr. Jones, rejecting the label of home shopping service or infomercial site.
Customers choose from a menu of more than a dozen product categories, from clothing and accessories to office products. Clicking on products in the category (Rug Doctor’s carpet cleaning system, for example) will take them to advertiser-supplied information as well as Expo TV content about the products.
Consumer video testimonials are being added. Consumers can both browse and buy the products.
The service has about 14 million video-on-demand subscribers on systems owned by Comcast, Charter, Adelphia, Mediacom, Insight and others, as well as on Verizon.
For its Feb. 1-March 31, 2006, promotion, its first national consumer special offer, Expo TV worked with one of its advertisers, Bare Escentuals. The cosmetics line provided an exclusive product offer-free shipping and handling worth $9.99-for a 10-piece starter kit of its popular bareMinerals lightweight products.
Jessica Cagnon, Expo TV’s marketing manager, worked with cable operators to get them to promote the special offer. Cable affiliates got a 30-second cross-channel promotional spot. Expo TV partnered with Adelphia on a broadband campaign that included Web banners and a customer microsite. Cable operators Charter and Insight included bill stuffers highlighting the special offer in their mailings to digital subscribers.
In February, the promotion’s first month, views on the bareMinerals product site were up by more than 320 percent. Overall, for the two months, views increased 260 percent. Viewers also browsed the product material for a longer period of time.
Sales of the product in February grew by 364 percent from January; for the full two-month period, Expo TV said, sales of bareMinerals rose 320 percent.
Moreover, Mr. Jones said, there was a “halo effect” within the overall health and beauty category, as customers checked out and bought other products in addition to bareMinerals. The effect, he said, was contained mostly to the category. Since the special ended, sales of the product are slightly higher than before, said Ms. Cagnon.
Expo TV chose bareMinerals to work with because the product is highly recognized, also sells in retail stories and is a “quality product,” Mr. Jones said. “We have an extremely good relationship with them and their media group was very interested in seeing a rise in VOD distribution.” The promotion, he said, “was an opportunity for them to learn as well.”
As a result of the promotion, Expo TV has now made special offers a key part of its strategy, even adding a permanent “Special Offers” category in its product list.