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Cox Co-Op to Add Internet Presence

Traditional offline marketer Cox Target Media is looking to combine the strength of its tried-and-true direct mail database with the new media dazzle of the Web to offer Internet retailers and other technology-based companies top-notch integrated marketing programs.

Beginning in November, 11.5 million consumers who receive the Carol Wright cooperative advertising envelope also will receive CyberValuz.com: The Online Guide for Smart Shoppers.

This 16-page, 5-inch-by-7.5-inch booklet will serve as the dot-com section of the direct mailer. It will feature e-commerce retailers as well as related technology companies.

Companies that participate in the CyberValuz.com mailer will appear on the Web site of the same name, which also launches in November.

“The goal of the effort is to connect our Carol Wright audience, of which more than 79 percent are wired to the Net, with online retailers and people selling high-technology products,” said Rob Rohr, dot-com category sales director at Cox Target Media, Largo, FL. “We’ve created a product that addresses these consumers’ needs through the Carol Wright envelope and additionally online through a co-branded Web site.”

The Carol Wright database contains 22 million single-dwelling households nationwide with an average income of more than $70,000. For the CyberValuz.com mailing, the company selected households from the nation’s 20 top wired markets.

“These people are wired and ready to buy,” Rohr said. “The piece hits the week of Nov. 13, which is perfect for the online holiday shopping season. Everyone’s expecting the largest and richest e-commerce holiday season on record.”

This move comes on the heels of competitor ADVO Inc.’s formation of online subsidiary ShopWise.com in April. ShopWise.com handles all facets of the shared direct mail giant’s Internet ventures, including Netserts.com.

Netserts.com functions as the dot-com section of ADVO’s ShopWise shared direct mailer, formerly called Mailbox Values, which reaches 60 million homes weekly. ADVO has been distributing Netserts.com to 10 million households monthly since April. Nationally, more than 23,000 retailers advertise in the ShopWise shared mailer.

While the two models look almost identical, Chris Hutter, ADVO’s vice president of investor relations, said, “I don’t know enough about it. In my mind it’s a natural way for our business to go, and their business is very similar. It’s a growing part of our business and will continue to be.”

To promote CyberValuz.com, a message will be printed on the outside of the 11.5 million envelopes alerting consumers to the new guide inside. The company also will advertise the product in the holiday edition of Woman’s Day.

Rohr said he hopes to have nearly 15 advertisers on board for the first mailing. To try to gain those advertisers, more than 500 major retailers — both online companies and offline firms with a Web presence — will receive a media kit with a sample copy of the magazine inside a Carol Wright envelope, as well as a pamphlet discussing the vital statistics that include the percentage of Carol Wright recipients who are online. A digital version is available on a CD-ROM included in the kit.

“These advertisers are going to be reaching wired consumers because that is who we are targeting,” Rohr said. “They will be getting traffic from two locations as well. People will see them in the magazine and visit them through our site, and our site will also become the end destination of our Val-Pak.com Web site traffic.”

Perhaps the biggest push will come through a link on Cox’s Val-Pak.com site. “We’re tying it in with Val-Pak.com, which already has Internet traffic,” Rohr said. “It has two-and-a-half million page views per month.”

Rohr expects CyberValuz.com to mirror the success of Val-Pak.com. “We’ve got a strong interactive presence,” he said. “Val-Pak.com, and its more than 30,000 local coupons, has been very successful at being the local online couponing portal.”

Cox will send mailers to 500 potential advertisers this week. Rohr hopes to have at least 15 advertisers on board for the mailing.

Overall, Rohr believes that CyberValuz.com will serve as an example of how well direct mail can generate traffic for Web sites. “We know that the [guide] is going to drive traffic to CyberValuz.com and Val-Pak.com,” he said. “We believe it so much, we created a multiplatform product that shows a direct connection between direct mail marketing and online commerce. We’re going to prove our own model.”

Other offline campaigns will begin as the Nov. 1 launch date nears, including print ads in magazines such as Woman’s Day.

Subsequent mailings for CyberValuz.com are scheduled for March, June, August and November 2001. YP&B Advertising, St. Petersburg, FL, worked with Cox to develop the campaign.

Launching in conjunction with the shopping mall will be a link from Val-Pak.com directing consumers to CyberValuz.com.

NOTE:Senior Reporter Michael Bush Contributed to This Report.

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