By Allison J. Waldman
Special to TelevisionWeek
When the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit commences in Boston this week, attendees will open their packets to discover a full agenda of activities and events: seminars bursting with information, guest speakers eager to share their insights, award-winning case studies from the on-demand platform and much more.
“We really relied on research this year in planning the summit,” said Lindsay Gardner, executive VP of Fox Cable Networks and co-chair of the event. “We want to provide … attendees with the information they need.”
CTAM’s mission statement delineates the goal of the annual summit: “CTAM is dedicated to helping the cable industry grow by advancing consumer and business-to-business marketing excellence, facilitating collaborative marketing initiatives, and encouraging the mastery of new technology-based products.” Perhaps no aspect of the summit better illustrates how CTAM effectively communicates “marketing excellence” than the organization’s On Demand Case Study Competition, which this year honors campaigns in the free VOD, suscription VOD and movies/transactional categories.
“On-demand is the platform everyone is talking about,” Mr. Gardner said. “You can’t read a copy of The Wall Street Journal without someone talking about it. … You could not have anticipated where the industry is now even two years ago.”
The summit’s other co-chair, Patricia Gottesman, executive VP of product management and marketing for Cablevision Systems, is focused on how the cable industry has risen to the challenge presented by new technology.
“This is an incredible time for our industry as we continue to launch meaningful new services and successfully enhance our product lines in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” she said. “This year’s summit will bring together the best marketing minds in the business to celebrate our success and effectively collaborate for continued growth and lasting profitability.”
Lisa Kerr, CTAM’s VP of advanced products, sees the case study competition as a key element in the summit’s broader emphasis on the latest technology. “The focus for the summit this year is to dive deep into what’s new in terms of media, mobility, management and marketing,” she said. “The case study competition obviously helps get some new ideas-tested ideas-to the attendees in terms of providing them with quantifiable success stories.”
The case studies have been especially popular because the information shared is specific, targeted and actionable. These are concrete successes with proven results. They are also used for education long after the awards are presented. This year’s honorees will be added to the ODC (On Demand Consortium) Case Study Repository (which currently contains 35 case studies from competitions dating to 2004) and included in documentation of marketing best practices that is made available to members of the ODC.
The case studies that have earned recognition from CTAM this year cover the full range of on-demand entertainment. Ten cases studies will be honored, including World Wrestling Entertainment’s 24/7 On Demand, which used telemarketing to sign up subscribers; NBC Universal’s enlisting CNBC and Maria Bartiromo in a local ad sales promotion for the film “In Good Company”; Time Warner in Austin, Texas, creating a subscription on-demand service for University of Texas Longhorn sports; and Rainbow Media’s tie-in of Johnny Cash music instruction on its Mag Rack on-demand show “Guitar Xpress” with the premiere of the movie “Walk the Line” on-demand.
“With regard to the on-demand platform, we’re a little bit farther down the road as far as experience with trying some things and seeing what works as far as the content that’s provided and how it’s provided and how it’s marketed to customers,” Ms. Kerr said. “That being said, I think there’s still, one, an enormous opportunity, and two, exploration that’s still going on as everybody gets better acquainted with how consumers use on-demand, what the expectations are as the technology evolves and the interfaces get better and additional content is added to the mix. So we’re still very much in an evolution, although the case studies illustrate that there have been some very specific success stories that can be replicated and shared with other on-demand providers.”
Audiences at CTAM consider the case studies one of the most valuable aspects of the summit because they represent real-life examples that can be followed. But also high on the list are guest speakers, and in that area CTAM shook up this year’s lineup.
“We’ll be responding to feedback from our attendees last year by providing additional speakers from outside,” Ms. Kerr said.
Among this year’s speakers are Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks; Donald McDonald, VP and general manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group; Steven Leavitt, co-author of “Freakonomics”; and June Blocklin, vice chairman of Young & Rubicam Brands. These leading marketers will share their thoughts on ways to move beyond traditional tactics to reach customers. While the case studies will deal with reality, the speakers are free to explore ideas that have yet to be attempted.
CTAM also has some unusual seminars scheduled. “We are doing some sessions in new formats in order to provide new experiences for attendees,” Ms. Kerr said. “One example is the session being conducted by Rajiv Lal, senior professor of retailing from the Harvard Business School. He will be teaching a case to a class of alums from CTAM University, and the rest of the audience will have the opportunity to observe and then eventually at the end of the session participate. We’re looking for ways to provide new information in formats that are new and hopefully make the information as relevant as possible in an increasingly complicated industry.”
CTAM will also present a number of awards at the summit, including the Rainmakers and the TAMI Awards. The Rainmakers are given to CTAM members who have played an essential role in supporting CTAM’s primary goal of helping the cable industry grow. This year’s winners are Channing Dawson, Scripps Networks, for leadership of the On Demand Consortium, which produced a variety of in-depth products to advance the category; Stacy Gordon, Comcast, for strategic leadership contributions to the Cable Movers Hotline initiative, including guiding the development of consumer marketing materials; Louise Mooney, JLM Partners, for work on the Integrated Communications initiative, promoting cable’s advantages through earned media and other venues; Donna Perkins, Comcast, for contributions to the Cable Movers Hotline; and Kevin Potente, Cablevision, for his participation in the Business Services Council initiatives and his leadership in co-chairing the 2006 Business Services Forum.
The TAMI Awards, CTAM’s highest honor, recognize volunteer service and extraordinary leadership. The 2006 TAMI Award winners are Artie Bulgrin, ESPN, for his leadership of the 2006 Research Conference; Steve Goldmintz, AE Feldman, for more than 20 years of active involvement in CTAM New York as a member of the board, program planner and marketer; Steve Leblang, FX/Fox Cable Networks, for his leadership of the 2006 Research Conference; Holly Leff-Pressman, Nielsen Entertainment, for her ongoing support of CTAM and the On Demand Consortium, and in particular her contributions to the On Demand Segmentation Research Study; and Steve Schiffman, National Geographic Channel, for three years of raising the prestige of the Mark Awards and for his leadership on the Summit Planning Committee.