Author Archives: Monica DeBois

Showrooming: The New Wave Of Retail Shopping

As a consumer I have come to find myself visiting retail stores more often to “Window Shop” then to actually purchase one of the products in store. I rush home or pull up the internet on my smartphone and began searching better deals out there online instead of physically buying the product immediately.

Experian Marketing Services has called this new phase of shopping “Showrooming” Where a consumer checks out the product in store but buys the item online at a cheaper cost. Research shows this increasing trend will continue to evolve and ultimately affect the marketing strategies for big time retail stores such as Best Buy, Target, Toys R Us and more.

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Amazon.com has been the innovator of competition for the big brick and mortar retail shops where they compete with the prices in store and allow you to scan bar codes of the product you would like to purchase to see what the cost would be if ordered online.

Bestbuy.com has pledged to offer online prices in house to drive traffic to the store while keeping with online competitor pricing. There is, however, a catch; Best Buy will only honor the online pricing policy against specific online sites: Amazon.com, Apple.com, Bhphotovideo.com, Buy.com, CircuitCity.com, CompUSA.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, hhgregg.com, HP.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Newegg.com, OfficeDepot.com, OfficeMax.com, Sears.com, Staples.com, Target.com, TigerDirect.com, and Walmart.com.

Over the past holiday season, Target tried shutting out the art of “Showrooming” by price matching Amazon.com and even including QR codes on specific toys to avoid consumers checking the cost out on the online giant.MK-CA445_BARNES_NS_20130127182406

Barnes and Nobles is planning on closing 20% of its brick and mortar stores over the next few years due to the increased demand of digital e books for tablets and e-readers. CEO Mitchell Klipper explained to the Wall Street Journal how adjusting the “overhead” is important in the success of a retail company and the 8.2% drop in in-store sales is just a portion of this decision. Barnes & Nobles is moving its focus from in store sales to online competition with e-commerce sites such as Borders.com and Amazon.com

Showrooming sounds like it’s not just a fad but more of a new style of shopping. It will be interesting to see how the retail mega stores will advance their marketing strategies to pull consumers back through the doors and out of the comfort of their own home.

The “Social” Bowl

As a die-hard Ravens fan I swore that I would not watch this year’s Super Bowl next Sunday February 4th. However, as a media buyer I can’t help but be excited to see the new creative elements being used in the commercials, specifically social media.

Over the past few years companies have slowly started to integrate social media into their marketing campaigns but in 2012 the advertisers in Super Bowl have taken it to a new level. While investing millions of dollars to create the most entertaining commercials, advertisers are taking time to invest in the two way communication with their consumers.

Volkswagen for instance has already begun their Super Bowl commercial buzz by creating a teaser for “The Bark Side”. With the success of last year’s “Small Darth Vader” commercial dubbed to be one of the best of 2011, VW had a challenge of competing with their own commercial. One way they succeeded was by building off last year’s theme.

Not only has the advertiser given their customer a preview of their multi-million dollar commercial spot, they have received over 7 million hits on YouTube and started a buzz that they hope to continue through next week’s game.

Advertisers more than ever are incorporating their Facebook and Twitter accounts by including hashtags (#) in hopes of becoming a Twitter trend topic during the game and posting previews of their spot on profile pages to engage customers and increase overall awareness.

By using these social media platforms, advertisers are building a familiarity with their brands, concepts, and products. Companies are looking to create an interest and form a loyal customer before the commercial even airs.

Since reaching the consumers has become so fragmented, marketers are getting creative by reaching their audience on a more personal level. The 2012 Super Bowl commercials will be just the beginning of a new wave of advertising campaigns that are not so traditional.

The Baltimore Grand Prix: A Winning Success

This past weekend marked the first annual Grand Prix held in Baltimore City. For the past two months road crews and city workers worked day and night to turn the streets of Baltimore, Maryland into a 2.04 mile race course around the heart of the harbor.

During the two months of construction there were mixed feelings of excitement and irritation from city residents and commuters. Although the race had the potential of drawing in millions of dollars for the city, the locals dealt with stress and frustration with the hassle of the city traffic and race construction

In the end, the race that drew in over 150,000 tourists to Baltimore was an all-around success. Although the course was challenging for the Indy car drivers, the excitement and anticipation was noticed in the crowd and the media.

This year’s Grand Prix event was the highest rated Indy car event according to Versus Network that aired the Baltimore race, stating it topped previous broadcasts of Indy car events by 59 percent. The race drew in a number of sponsors including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dr, Pepper, Royal Farms, Budweiser, Dietz & Watson, and local sponsors like M&T Bank, UTZ, and Johns Hopkins.

ESPN explained that the primary American street race was the most successful event in the States in the past 30 years. “The Baltimore Grand Prix already has jumped to No. 2 on IndyCar’s road racing hit parade, right behind the venerable 37-year-old Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and ahead of Mid-Ohio, Toronto and St. Petersburg.” (John Oreovicz ESPN.com)

With a 5 year contract for the race, the Baltimore Grand Prix will hopefully be a continued success in the upcoming years. Baltimore may have found the exciting and energetic event it needed to build back the city’s reputation of a fun family friendly harbor with restaurants and nightlife that appeal to all visitors and fans.

The New York Times- New Digital Trend?

The New York Times announced this week that they will no longer offer online access to any section of the paper unless you become a paid digital subscriber.

Beginning March 28th you will only be able to read up to 20 articles per month on www.nytimes.com before you are required to become a digital subscriber. The NY Times app will still be available free of charge with access to the Top News section but any other section will not be viewable until the user becomes a digital subscriber.  The new subscription will range from $15 to $35 per month depending on the package.  This isn’t the first time The New York Times tried to implement a paid online subscription, in 2005 the publication began a subscription for the online opinion section but retracted the paywall in 2007 after complaints and a drop in readership.

Since the New York Times is a leader in its field, this may be seen as a new movement for newspaper websites. As circulation continues to dip for a majority of newspapers and advertising revenues are drying up, the digital paywall may become a common trend for all publications. To keep up with the ever changing media world- newspapers have to find new ways to increase revenue and readership.

To stay relevant in the social media world The New York Times will give followers the opportunity to read posted articles even if they are over the 20 article limit. The paper is also placing a limit on articles accessed through the search engine Google – five. The paper seems to be trying to close a loop hole here since they recognize the amount of online traffic directed through Google. But it also presents a risk for the paper for the same reason.

Comcast Spotlight Partners with Verizon TV

Effective August 31, advertisers will have the ability to reach their target viewers through one cable company.

Comcast Spotlight announced that the cable company has partnered with Verizon FIOS to sell local and regional ads in the 10 cities where they compete. The 5 1/2 year agreement will only pertain to the advertising portion of both companies and Verizon will not lose their customers. This contract will present advertisers with an opportunity to reach all viewers who subscribe to either cable provider and will effect the Baltimore, Boston, Fort Wayne, IN, Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, OR, Richmond, VA, Seattle and Washington, DC markets.

However, this is not the first agreement of this kind for the Comcast company. The cable provider has a contract with DirectTV to sell local ad inventory. Comcast shares ad sales with the 10 regional sports networks that DirectTV offers in the Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.

The Baltimore Interconnect will increase its household universe by 22% which is about 145,180 households. A commercial bought on the interconnect will now have the ability to reach almost 99% of all cable households in the area and 75 % of all TV households.

A Visit to the Hackerman-Patz House

Sinai Hospital (part of LifeBridge Health, a Media Works client) in Baltimore has built a center that caters to young patients and their families as a home away from home. The Hackerman-Patz House was built in 2004 as a place where patients and their families from all over the world can stay during and after limb lengthening surgeries to rehabilitate and recuperate. Families of patients have an opportunity in the house to find strength in themselves and support from other families who have loved ones going through similar surgeries.

The International Center for Limb Lengthening at Sinai Hospital, led by Dr. John Herzenberg, is designed to provide the most technologically-advanced treatments for upper and lower limb discrepancies, deformities, defects, infections, and short stature. Patients from all 50 states, over 50 countries and across 6 continents have come to this center for treatment. After surgery, patients can stay between one night to a year at the Hackerman-Patz House as long as another surgery or appointment is scheduled during their time at the home.

The Media Works team took time on Tuesday evening to visit the Hackerman-Patz house to bring dinner and gifts. Gwen, the coordinator of the home, took us on a tour of the house and gave us a chance to meet some of the patients that are staying there. We learned that many of the patients are young children who are in need of lengthening surgery to live a normal life.

Media Works at the Hackerman-Patz House

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Baltimore Becoming a Dominant Travel Hub

Baltimore is quietly becoming the Mid Atlantic’s top travel hub. In 2009, two major transportation companies are making their mark in Baltimore. This not only brings new options for travelers, but also opportunities for the local economy.

Last weekend kicked off the Carnival Festival to celebrate the new line of Carnival Cruises departing from Port Authority in Baltimore. Beginning in September 2009, Carnival will run 7-night vacations from the city year round. Before, the only available cruise lines were Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Celebrity and they only ran May-December. The amount of trips offered soared from 27 trips in 2008 to 79 trips in 2009 and 92 trips in 2010. This increase in traveling from Baltimore brought in over $63 million dollars in 2008 and an estimated $152 million in 2009. The addition of this cruise line will not only bring in money for Baltimore, but offers tourists “the closest east coast drive-to-port from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Chicago.”

Cruise lines are not the only booming travel industry for the Baltimore market. Jet Blue Airlines has announced this week that it will begin offering round trip flights from BWI Airport beginning September 2009. Prior to this, the closest airport Jet Blue flew out of was Dulles in Virginia. Not only does Jet Blue offer discount domestic, but international flights as well. This is going to give the dominant carrier Southwest Airlines stiff competition for the Mid Atlantic region.

With the addition of these two major companies joining the Baltimore market, there is a huge opportunity for city and state tourism dollars to increase. The city, along with the Inner Harbor, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality services should see a rise in sales within the next year. With Carnival departing from Baltimore, tourists now have the chance to experience the area for a day or two before their trip to the Caribbean or other vacation destination. Airline passengers now have two discount airline options at BWI which should increase the number of people departing from the airport. Both of these represent growth and opportunity for Baltimore and Maryland’s tourism industries.