Databases Key to Targeted Marketing

Seattle -- Mass marketing doesn’t cut it any more in the cable business,
which is why executives on the corporate and field level must work in tandem to
create customer databases, according to a panel at the CTAM Summit here

During the session, "In Sync: Coordinating Corporate and System Database
Marketing Initiatives," Cox Communications Inc. executive director of marketing
services Mike Melton said there are a number of reasons why databases are
important to facilitating target marketing.

For example, he noted that while cable has sold a single product -- video --
with mass appeal in the past, the industry is now: focusing on profits, and not
market share; encountering a mature market for that core video product; facing
competition from direct-broadcast satellite; and selling niche products like

In that environment, the day of expensive and wasteful "spray and pray" mass
marketing is over, according to the panelists.

Carla Simonet, Comcast Corp.’s senior director of national marketing
sciences, said it is corporate’s job to create databases as a tool for local
marketing officials out in the field.

At headquarters in Philadelphia, Comcast now has a database that includes 65%
of its markets, according to Simonet.

In fact, Comcast’s merger with AT&T Broadband "really helped us to
accelerate our time line" for creating that database, she added.

The benefits of having a central database are that it can be efficient and
flexible, and robust and scalable, according to Michelle Thompson, manager of
database marketing for Comcast’s Mountain division, which includes Seattle;
Portland, Ore.; Denver and Dallas.

The database incorporates billing, demographic, census and DBS information,
as well as "propensity models," she added.

Tony Maldonado, vice president of Cox Communications of Arizona, said that in
terms of databases, "no approach is perfect." But they’re necessary, since "we
try to leave as little to our gut as possible."

One thing Cox learned in Phoenix is that value-added offers -- like giving
two Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball tickets to new subscribers --
don’t help sales. Such offers just confuse Cox’s message to consumers, according
to Maldonado.