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World Link Ventures CEO on DR for a Segmented Market

Toni Knight is the founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based World Link Ventures Inc., a media sales firm with offices in New York and London. She recently spoke with DRTV Weekly contributing editor Sarah Littman.

Media prices in the English-language market have soared, creating pressure on direct response marketers. How is the situation with U.S. Hispanic media? What, if any, opportunity does this provide for the DR industry?

I wouldn’t characterize English-language media prices as soaring — they’re rising along with the general cost of other things. With media buying, in particular, spots are priced to their value. Our goal in each case is to ensure the deal makes financial sense for the media client and the marketer alike.

This same situation holds for the U.S. Hispanic media. It’s priced based on the value of the inventory. The growing Hispanic population and the concurrent rise in the number of cable channels, radio stations and print publications create many more opportunities for U.S. Hispanic advertisers than there were just a few years ago. The new channels give advertisers a lot more choice, allowing them to truly target their audience.

We keep reading about weak upfronts and there are an increasing number of channels available for viewers to watch, then why are media prices so high?

Again, it seems too much of a generalization to say all prices are high. Prices for some media are high, but advertisers tend to get what they pay for. We’re in a fragmented media landscape, which gives marketers a variety of pricing structures, based on distribution and reach. Not all opportunities cost the same. If you buy with an established media client with tremendous distribution, the price will be at one level. If you’re working with a startup, or in alternative media, it’s likely to be much less.

That’s the beauty of this moment in time. In the past, there weren’t many choices, but there was mass distribution: network television. Today, with the proliferation of channels, you can really target a niche, and create more efficiency.

U.S. Hispanics are a rapidly growing part of the population. What advice do you have for DR marketers looking to get into this segment?
The traditional ways of buying media are not as relevant. You have to look at new platforms, and recognize the uniqueness in this culture of diversity. Any marketer now who just focuses on the English segment of the population is missing a huge pool of potential customers. Smart marketers are not just looking at one piece of the puzzle; they’re looking to maximize all those potential consumers.

But first you have to understand the Hispanic community. Don’t assume what works for English-speakers will work with this audience, too. In general, the Hispanic community has different buying habits, different attitudes toward credit cards, and are interested in different products. It’s true of any advertising: you need to know your audience.

What do you think are the biggest challenges DR advertisers will face over the next five years or so?

Without a doubt it’s the challenge of keeping up with a changing landscape. Broadcast and cable TV may be the dominant media force at the moment, but it is less certain what it will look like in 5 years.

So everyone has to be willing to adapt to new platforms and new models. It seems likely that in the coming years, fragmentation of the marketplace will only increase, which means there will be still greater demands for accountability, which puts DR in a great position.

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