Time Warner Cable Revamps Database, Plans DM for New Products

Time Warner Cable, Stamford, CT, announced this week that it will begin a series of direct marketing programs for some of its new products and services in August.

The campaigns will come on the heels of an upgrading program TWC implemented last year. TWC — the nation's largest owner and operator of cable systems with 12.6 million customers – last year upgraded about 70 percent of its cable plant before launching Road Runner, its high-speed online service, in five new locations, with plans to launch more this year. It also began commercial testing of the next generation of advanced digital set-top boxes, which will offer consumers new program tiers and more channels of multiplexed premium services, among other features. It will roll out telephone services and other types of new services in the near future.

In preparing to roll out these products and acquire new customers — as well as upsell and cross-sell TWC's existing customers — the company decided to implement a more sophisticated database marketing system.

Since the use of database marketing within the cable television industry is relatively new, TWC did not have a corporate-sponsored database marketing system. Instead, all of its marketing systems were based on the company's billing systems located at each of the company's 43 divisions. While the billing system contains important data, according to TWC, this was not the ideal situation.

“Typically, our business units have had to rely on their local IT departments to provide necessary information, and often, the reporting options in the billing systems did not meet their needs,” said Bernice Mar, director of database marketing for TWC. “The [billing] system is a backend transactional system and was not designed for marketing applications.”

In addition, having the billing system as the primary source of data for retrieval and report generation became a cumbersome and costly endeavor.

“Until now, we have been totally dependent on the billing services we use to generate marketing lists. In doing so, our business units have had to make do with the limitations and often have incurred additional costs with less-than-desirable turnaround times in order to obtain them,” she said.

As a result, the company marketed en masse.

At the end of last year, after looking at several different companies based on criteria, including telecommunications experience, ease-of-use, cost-effectiveness, knowledgeable staff, support and training, the company finally decided on AnalytiX, a database marketing system from Experian, Orange, CA.

Experian was chosen based on the company's extensive history of providing database marketing solutions for telecommunications companies.

“[AnalytiX] gives us a solution that not only provides useful marketing databases at the local level for tactical objectives, but also enables [us] to simultaneously build a robust database at the corporate level for trending and strategic initiatives,” Mar said.

For example, each division can decide to add their customer information into a general corporate database. By starting at the local level, each division can respond quickly to market changes and customer needs, and the main database allows for future trending and strategic planning.

TWC also plans to append additional information from Experian and from other third-party sources on household-level demographics to the system before the end of the year. It will weave it into the AnalytiX System to enhance cable history and profiling capabilities.

However, Experian's system will let customers do smarter targeting while honoring customer privacy rights, an issue of high priority within the company, according to Mar.

Time Warner Cable is currently in the process of deploying the AnalytiX System, and plans to have six locations throughout the country up and running by the end of the year, with additional deployment sites planned over the next two years.

By August, TWC will complete a prototype database installation in Austin, Texas, and will fully roll-out this system in September. The program should be fully implemented in all of divisions in three years.

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