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Monster.com Roars Into DRTV Market

Monster.com launched a long-form infomercial this month — the company's first effort in direct response TV — in an attempt to educate consumers about the online job search site.

Up to this point, the 6-year-old job site has attracted 5 million unique visitors a month through various branding campaigns, including highly publicized buys on the past two Super Bowls, prime-time 30-second spots, outdoor advertising, radio and online advertising.

“Thirty-second spots in prime time can be expensive, and we asked, 'How do I reach more of the population less expensively?' ” said Jeff Taylor, founder/CEO of Monster.com, Maynard, MA, adding that the company is not reducing its traditional advertising budget but rather is using the infomercial as additional means to reach consumers.

“We are using the long-form infomercial for a different reason than the 30-second spot. [The infomercial] was set up to educate consumers and employers about our product and how to use its features,” Taylor said. “We need to reach out to consumers in Middle America that don't know about our services and may not be as heavy Internet users.”

Long-form is an efficient way to reach this target audience, he said.

“Silicon Valley knows about Monster.com, and New York City knows about it, but what about Iowa?” asked Eileen Simms, media director at The Frederiksen Group, Falls Church, VA, the DRTV agency producing the infomercial. “What direct response does is bring the traditional branding message together with more information. Some people may have seen Monster.com's traditional ads but may not know what the site is.”

The infomercial, titled “The Monster Show,” is structured on the theme of “never settle.” It is hosted by Taylor and includes how-to demonstrations, user testimonials, job search advice and client success stories. The spot directs viewers to the Web site, www.monster.com, to use its services. Consumers interested in learning more about the site's features may call a toll-free customer service telephone number. There is also a link to Monster.com on The Frederiksen Group's Web site, www.fredgroup.com.

The show is scheduled to run 250 times this December, primarily on national cable stations with gradually phased-in penetration on local broadcast stations. Simms said Frederiksen is focusing on Saturday and Sunday morning placement, which typically have proved to be the most successful long-form time slots. The ad also will run on weekdays during late night and early morning.

“We chose Frederiksen because we liked the team, their fee structure and media buy strategy,” Taylor said.

Monster.com also plans to run the infomercial during the week between the National Football League playoffs and the Super Bowl. Frederiksen is in negotiations with two undisclosed networks for a network buy, Simms said.

“By using a dead-zone week, we can attract people hungry for broadcast,” she said.

During the week of the network buy, Monster.com will run 10-second “tune-in ads” alerting consumers about the program. The company also will feature segments on select local broadcast news programs in which the infomercial will be promoted. Monster.com plans to feature hyperlinks on its Web site to chat rooms promoting the show.

The infomercial will run through 2001, Simms said, adding that it is too early in the process to be more specific.

Monster.com plans to run a version of the program on local radio stations, in which Taylor will make live appearances on stations to explain the site and answer consumer queries.

Monster.com budgeted $10 million toward the infomercial campaign, Taylor said. The company expects to double the number of unique visitors each month to 10 million through various advertising strategies. The site, which charges employers to place job announcements and receives revenue through ad placement on the site, is expected by analysts to gain $350 million in revenue for 2000, he said.

“I think DRTV was a wise move for Monster.com and am surprised other dot-coms haven't embraced direct response. Because of the interactive nature of the Net, the dot-com world is more in tune with the direct response world,” said Douglas Kelly, vice president of new business and direct response at Backchannelmedia, Boston, a DRTV and interactive television agency. “People watch infomercials because they are looking for information. Monster.com will hook people looking for a new job, and they will tune in further to find out how.”

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