Icon Media Direct's Jeff Lazkani Talks Brand Response

It's a Bird... It's a Brand... It's Brand Response!

[As published in the DRMA Voice, a publication for the Alliance for Performance-Based Marketers]

Jeff Lazkani VP Business Development & Strategy

Jeff Lazkani
VP Business Development & Strategy

When it comes to marketing a product or service, there are typically two overarching objectives: create awareness and drive revenue. With the multitude of marketing platforms available in today’s media environment, media strategies are much like a Rubik’s Cube: there are a number of approaches to take, and the several moving parts are ultimately massaged into place through the right balance of sophistication, discipline, and perseverance. We’ve all heard the nomenclature: “I am a brand advertiser,” or, “I am a direct response advertiser.” But, today, what does that really mean?

Direct response advertising has the very specific purpose of eliciting a response from the consumer upon seeing an ad, whether that purpose is to order a product/service online, via a phone call, or at retail. It is more targeted than brand advertising – it is optimized on a far more granular level and meant to be seen primarily by those who are most likely to take action. Direct response advertisers track response metrics closely to optimize a campaign towards the strongest ROI. Brand advertisers on the other hand, are interested in exposing their brand to as many eyeballs as possible. Of course, delivering on those eyeballs efficiently is key to the strategy, but the overall objective is top-of-mind awareness. The next time a consumer needs something they sell, brands want consumers to think of them first.

Tactically, there are some key differences between brand and direct response advertising. What are the creative and offer strategies? What are the media buy tactics? What are the attribution practices? These have traditionally been obvious differentiators between brand and direct response advertisers. A clear line in the sand, so to speak: top-of-the-funnel awareness vs. bottom-of-the-funnel conversion.

But now, more so than ever, the lines continue to blur between brand marketing and direct response. The influx of multimedia content and various platforms combined with the emergence of cross-channel data analytics have driven brand marketers to the world of performance media, expressly concerned with key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive consumer action and return on investment (ROI). More and more, brand advertisers are evolving their media mix and incorporating performance-based media across channels, resulting in strategically balanced “brand response” campaigns designed to open the top of the funnel as wide as possible, within the confines of attributable and profitable metrics.

So, is there still a clear delineation between brand advertising and direct response, or is that becoming an antiquated view? Certain product or service categories lend themselves to lower-funnel metrics. Others require top-of-mind consideration. Some have the ability to educate and tell a powerful story in 30 seconds; others may require 60. That will likely never change, meaning there will always be a dichotomy of brand vs. direct response advertising tactics.

What has changed however; is the way advertisers employ and rely on data analytics. And that has resulted in a new breed of advertisers. Visibility into how consumers are engaging with brands at each stage of the consumer journey is powerful information that is transforming existing and emerging brands into brand-response advertisers, pioneering the way towards heightened levels of consumer engagement and the type of accountability that results in smart, scalable marketing initiatives. One can only assume that as technology, visibility, and standardization continue to advance, the worlds of brand and direct response will only continue to look more and more alike.

Jeff Lazkani is Vice President, Business Development and Strategy, at Los Angeles-based Icon Media Direct. Sylvester Phifer is senior director of DR multimedia sales at ESPN.  Both are members of the DRMA TV Everywhere Committee.


Icon Media Direct Receives LA Green Biz Certification

Icon Media Direct Receives LA Green Biz Certification

Icon Media Direct announced it is now the largest media company and only direct-response agency to obtain the LA Green Biz Certification, in addition to being California Business Green certified.

Los Angeles Certified Green Business Program provides a certification and an official Green Business seal to businesses that meet standards of environmental sustainability, including increased recycling, water conservation, reduced electrical usage and providing plans and programs to help employees participate in environmental stewardship.  The Green Business program will give consumers the opportunity to know which businesses are ‘green’ when they choose which goods and services to purchase, andit also serves as an incentive to businesses who are considering increasing conservation of resources and implementing other environmentally-friendly policies.  Businesses which are certified receive a Certified Green Business seal, the opportunity to promote themselves as Certified Green Businesses and listing on a City website.

Icon Media Direct’s certification was made possible by their in-house sustainability team, SPARK (Sustainability Powered by Accountability, Responsibility, and Knowledge) Started in Feb 2016, a business sustainability task force banded together to support the longevity and overall health of Icon Media Direct by focusing on the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profits. The team builds awareness, develops initiatives that benefit the community, employees, environment, business performance and culture within Icon Media Direct.

About LA Green Business Program

Founded in 2014, the LAGBP is aimed at increasing energy and water efficiency, generating cost-savings, reducing waste, and creating a healthier environment for the people of Los Angeles. LAGBP works with businesses at every stage in the greening process and provides free environmental consulting and training to achieve certification. For more information on the certification programs, visit the links below:  

LA Green Biz: http://www.greenbizla.org/
CA Green Biz: http://www.greenbusinessca.org/

Nancy Lazkani inducted into 2017 Direct Response Hall of Fame

Nancy Lazkani Inducted into 2017 Direct Response Hall of Fame 

[Includes excerpts from April 2017 issue of Response Magazine]

Icon Media Direct's Nancy Lazkani was honored Thursday, April 27, 2017 as an inductee into the Direct Response Hall of Fame, by the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) at Response Expo 2017.

“This septet … not only represents more than 30 years of industry history, but also features leaders who are still driving change in our ever-evolving space, as well,” says Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief of Response.

The inductees were honored during a series of afternoon events at Response Expo at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Thursday, April 27. They are:

  • Nancy Lazkani, founder and CEO of Icon Media Direct, helped pioneer performance-driven advertising and innovated how media is purchased and analyzed.
  • Michelle Cardinal, CEO and co-founder of Portland, Ore.-based R2C Group, has been successfully tapping accountable marketing techniques for more than two decades.
  • Jonathan L. Congdon, co-founder and president of Beachbody LLC, has taken fitness marketing to unchartered territory with more than $1 billion in annual sales and a long list of awards.
  • Carl Daikeler, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Beachbody LLC, is a 25-year veteran of the direct response business whose database of more than 20 million people leverages $100 million-plus per year in advertising.
  • Tim O’Leary, author and co-founder of R2C Group, launched his first DRTV campaign while still in college in 1980 and went on to create some of the industry’s first big-brand infomercials for Apple, AT&T, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Sears, and many others.
  • Lenny Sands, chairman of Los Angeles-based Capital Brands, is a proven innovator in diet and fitness, skincare, and countertop appliances who was behind the Magic Bullet and the Six Week Body Makeover.
  • Rob Woodrooffe, founder of Interwood in Canada, pioneered power branding that tapped direct response TV to create awareness and sales throughout 115 countries.

Of the honor, Lazkani stated, "When Response’s Tom Haire and John Yarrington advised me that I was the only person that had been DRMA Member of the Year to also become a DR Hall of Famer, I was humbled. What this means to me is that I must be impacting more people that I can imagine. If had to boil it all down to a single significance, it would be the realization that taking a risk to start my business as a single mother was the best thing I ever did. I like to believe I received this honor because I’m seen as a person that has been a strong and consistent player in an industry and has evolved through a lot of change and chaos. I have kept my focus and relied on truth in advertising to help me guide my clients and employees to success."

Previously inducted Direct Response Hall of Famers include Suzanne Somers, Billy Mays, Bill Guthy, Greg Renker and Leeza Gibbons, to name a few. To read the full story, click here

Icon Media Direct Named in Top 50 Advertising Agencies in Los Angeles

Icon Media Direct Named in Top 50 Advertising Agencies in Los Angeles

Icon Media Direct was named in the 2017 Top Ad Agencies in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Business Journal compiles lists each year to spotlight the details, stats and facts about the current champions of each industry within the the greater Los Angeles area. This is the fifth consecutive year the rapidly growing agency has been featured on the Top 50 Ad Agencies list. 

Icon Media Direct's Jeff Lazkani Offers a Micro and Macro Viewpoint on Attribution

Icon Media Direct's Jeff Lazkani Offers a Micro and Macro Viewpoint on Attribution

[As published in the DRMA Voice, a publication for the Alliance for Performance-Based Marketers]

By Jeff Lazkani

In today’s multi-screen, cross-platform world, marketers have more ways than ever before to interact with consumers through each stage of the customer journey. This multimedia environment has created an engagement dynamic between marketers and consumers that has resulted in new ways for marketers to track those interactions and their associated responses (some marketing channels with a greater degree than others).

Response-tracking methodologies vary widely by marketer, depending on said company’s marketing initiatives, thus attribution and measurement is a topic that exists at the forefront of today’s marketing conversations. The process of assigning proper credit to respective marketing channels is the key to developing a marketing strategy designed for scale and efficiency, which is why it is important to understand which methodology is right for your business.

In a DRTV world conditioned through decades of uniquely sourced attribution methodologies (e.g., unique 800 numbers, vanity URLs) and now dominated by digital-first e-commerce companies, TV tends to weigh heavily on short-term measurement and is often focused on the initial response window after an ad runs – when, in fact, TV advertising continues to remain impactful for weeks, months, even years. In many instances, less-sophisticated attribution models under-attribute the impact of TV on business performance by multiples when a large scale multichannel marketing strategy is executed, and even the most advanced systems are not 100-percent accurate. This is why it is important to view TV optimization through a micro and a macro lens when trying to understand its impact on growth and overall profitability.

The micro lens focuses on immediate attribution: the process of measuring observable lift in web activity over the baseline after a spot runs. This enables campaign optimization by providing a view on performance relativity between different stations, programs, dayparts, and even creatives. As campaign optimization is and has always been the backbone of DRTV, it is critical in today’s landscape to ensure that a campaign’s immediate attribution process is set up and managed to account for the range of nuances akin to TV media and different response cadences across desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Implementing guardrails to prevent misreads from instances such as overlapping airings (where airings on different stations run within minutes of each other), dual-feed airings (different East and West Coast air times), and broadcast network or syndication airings (where larger reach airings may air multiple times across the country) is critical to ensure the integrity and quality of a DRTV attribution system’s outputs. As a DRTV campaign grows and its media mix expands, these nuances become more and more impactful and could ultimately lead to misinformed and ineffective media buying if not accounted for properly. This is why it is key for marketers to understand the mechanics of their immediate attribution systems and audit for such nuances to preserve data integrity. Accurate immediate attribution data is the difference between successful rollout and a strikeout at the plate.

The macro lens pulls back and focuses on a more holistic or global attribution: the process of assigning credit to various marketing channel initiatives. Global attribution requires strategic media mix modeling, and deeper level statistical analysis combined with qualitative pre- and post- studies. Its core function is to determine causality and correlation between marketing channels, the impact over time, and how each work together to drive acquisition and repeat transacting.

Tactically, global attribution requires “dark model” testing, where different components of the media mix are pulsed strategically to identify how each works together over time to drive business growth and ROI. Each stage of the customer journey – awareness, engagement, purchase, post-purchase, and advocacy – are important for establishing success in a competitive market or breaking through with a new product or service. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand, with some degree of certainty, the impact of each touchpoint to the bottom line.

Ultimately, even the most advanced statistically engineered systems available today are only so accurate, due to elements such as the non-directly trackable long-term impact of TV media or the lack of true over-the-top (OTT)/digital video trackability. But – directionally – there are solutions available today that provide the visibility organizations need to make smart media strategy decisions and grow their businesses efficiently within the confines of a well-built and robust media strategy.

Organizational understanding between the difference in both lenses – and at what point each is right for implementation – is imperative in today’s marketplace. As technology and standardization continue to move forward, attribution capabilities are on a fast evolutionary track, and the landscape will continue to change. As marketers await new advancements, such as IP device matching, for tying back desktop conversion customers to an initial mobile visit, and stronger OTT measurement capability, it’s fair to say that the future of attribution and measurement is looking more data-driven and exciting than ever.

Jeff Lazkani is VP, Business Development & Strategy, at Los Angeles-based Icon Media Direct. He is a member of the DRMA TV Everywhere Committee.

Icon Media Direct Appoints New Senior Vice President of IT

Icon Media Direct Appoints New Senior Vice President of IT

Charles Serian Brings Wealth of Engineering and Technology Experience

Icon Media Direct, a leading direct response advertising agency, announced the addition of Charles Serian as the company’s Senior Vice President of Information Technology. Serian’s primary focus will be leading Icon Media Direct’s innovative technology team and expanding its in-house attribution platform to fuel both TV and digital growth.

Serian has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry with an extensive background in e-commerce, digital content distribution, aerospace, R&D and software engineering. He will play a key role in further developing Icon Media Direct’s digital and technology infrastructure to ensure scalable growth for the future.

Of his new role, Serian said, “Icon Media Direct is an outstanding company with incredible attribution and analytics methodologies and I am thrilled to join the team. It is a pivotal time for the company to further expand technologies like the WebTraxx® attribution platform and data visualization solutions. I look forward to bringing my background in software engineering and technology to help build upon and scale systems for growth and expansion.”

Previously, Serian delivered scalable, cost effective and mission critical solutions for Gracelock Industries, cloud-software platform FatCloud, SaaS E-Commerce provider Volusion and Gamefly.  At these companies, Serian was responsible for creating and driving a unified technological vision to support growth. He also played a key role at Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was honored with the NASA Space Act Board award.  His work has also been featured in NASA Tech Briefs.  

Icon Media Direct Makes a Splash at Silicon Beach Fest 2016

Icon Media Direct Makes a Splash at Silicon Beach Fest 2016

Nancy Lazkani moderates panel on How Television fits into the Digital Conversation to Fuel Growth

Growing a brand with an increasingly fragmented media landscape creates the need for marketers to look at their business on a performance based model. Consumers are watching TV differently today and multi-tasking on mobile devices while doing it.  In this discussion, you’ll learn how to best navigate through the waters of the television and digital journey. Hear first-hand how successful auto disruptor TrueCar, along with innovative global CPG marketer Jarden Consumer Solutions, and International marketer Guthy-Renker, (who recently steered a cosmetic company to a $1.2B acquisition to L’Oreal) build and grow national brands through efficient, performance driven marketing and media strategies. Presented by Icon Media Direct.


Speaker Bios:

Neeraj Gunsagar, TrueCar, Inc., Chief Marketing Officer
Neeraj Gunsagar is the Chief Marketing Officer of TrueCar, Inc. In this role, he oversees the company’s marketing strategy, which includes consumer brand marketing, partner and dealer marketing, corporate communications, business analytics and consumer acquisition. He is also responsible for helping the development team implement product improvements for both consumers and dealers. Previously Gunsagar was TrueCar’s Chief Revenue Officer, overseeing revenue growth for the company, including customer acquisition strategy, as well as optimizing integration and alignment between all profit-driving functions such as Dealer Operations and Affinity Partnerships. Prior to joining TrueCar, Gunsagar spent most of his career in Private Equity including positions at Matrix Partners’ India, Garnett & Helfrich Capital and Qualcomm Ventures. Gunsagar started his career on Wall Street at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), where he advised companies such as Worldcom and Iridium on complex restructurings and acquisitions. Gunsagar holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Keirie Courtney, Jarden Consumer Solutions, VP/GM Global Consumer Direct
Kierie Courtney is VP/GM Global Direct to Consumer at Jarden Consumer Solutions, the division of Newell Brands that owns brands such as Crock-Pot®, Mr. Coffee®, FoodSaver®, Oster®, Sunbeam® and Margaritaville®. She leads global digital strategy for JCS and has great passion for consumer experiences with brands, leveraging technology to drive continuous improvement in those consumer experiences. Before joining JCS, Kierie established and built a direct to consumer business at Church & Dwight, Inc., introducing new brands to the power of consumer direct marketing while growing the existing direct businesses. Prior to her experience at Church & Dwight, she worked in the consulting industry, designing and implementing various corporate system solutions in the CPG space. She began her career at Accenture.

Boris Shimanovsky, Guthy-Renker, LLC, Chief Creative Officer at Guthy-Renker, President, GRM
Mr. Boris Shimanovsky serves as Chief Creative Officer at Guthy-Renker and President of GRM. Guthy-Renker is one of the largest and most respected direct marketing companies in the world. His creative insight helps lead Guthy-Renker’s aggressive growth plans and help implement marketing and brand strategies for IT Cosmetics, Tradesy.com and Avadim Technologies. Mr. Shimanovsky helps develop the overall marketing and customer-experience strategy to grow Guthy-Renker’s sales through acquisition, multi-channel direct response marketing and brand management.

Nancy Lazkani, Icon Media Direct, Inc., CEO
Nancy founded Icon Media Direct in 2000 with a vision to innovate how media is purchased and analyzed, and to foster continual growth and success for her clients. Over the last 16 years she has been a pioneer of performance-driven advertising, and she remains in good company with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies; including prestigious brands such as Tradesy, TrueCar, GoodRX, Hotwire.com, OxiClean, Proactiv, and Nutrisystem. With over 30 years of media expertise, she’s played a pivotal role in disrupting industry norms for the benefit of advertisers and their return on investment. Nancy has been nationally recognized with honors such as CEO of the Year, Largest Women-Owned Business, Cynopsis’ Top Women in Digital and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Women Entrepreneur Program. Her passion and dedication for innovation has not only helped advance the industry, but continues to build some of the largest brands in the nation.

Icon Media Direct Named in 2016 Top Women Owned Businesses in San Fernando Valley

Icon Media Direct Named in 2016 Top Women Owned Businesses in San Fernando Valley 

Icon Media Direct was named in the 2016 Top Women Owned Businesses in the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Valley Business Journal compiles lists each year to spotlight the details, stats and facts about the current champions of each industry within the San Fernando Valley. Icon Media Direct, founded by CEO Nancy Lazkani, ranked 14th on the list of companies in all categories and 1st among advertising agencies.

Icon Media Direct Named in 2016 Top 50 Ad Agencies in Los Angeles

Icon Media Direct Named in 2016 Top 50 Ad Agencies in Los Angeles

Icon Media Direct was named in the 2016 Top Ad Agencies in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Business Journal compiles lists each year to spotlight the details, stats and facts about the current champions of each industry within the the greater Los Angeles area. This is the fourth consecutive year the rapidly growing agency has been featured on the Top 50 Ad Agencies list. 

Nancy Lazkani Honored in Cynopsis' Top Women in Digital Awards 2016

Nancy Lazkani Honored in Cynopsis' Top Women in Digital Awards 2016

Nancy Lazkani, founder and CEO of Icon Media Direct, was honored on Thursday, March 24, 2016 with the ‘Entrepreneur’ Award at Cynopsis Media’s Top Women in Digital Awards show held at the Yale Club in New York, NY. The event is designed to recognize the most influential women in digital marketing and advertising, whose relentless ambition, determination, and work ethic have driven them to the leading edge of the digital landscape.

“As an Entrepreneur, it is such an honor to be recognized by an organization that values the hard work and determination it takes to build a business,” said Lazkani. “This award is a testament to our passionate commitment to the success of our clients and collective drive to push the boundaries of what’s possible in our industry, especially as it continues to rapidly evolve.”

Lazkani also served as a presenter for the nominees in the ‘Mentor’ category during the awards ceremony. Guests of the show included international marketing professionals, investors, political figures, trend setters, press contacts and other celebrities.

The World Network's 2015 Annual Entrepreneur Awards Honors Nancy Lazkani

The World Network's 2015 Annual Entrepreneur Awards Honors Nancy Lazkani

Nancy Lazkani, founder and CEO of Icon Media Direct, has been honored in the World Network's prestigious Annual Entrepreneur Awards. The coveted Awards Ceremony recognizes the top 30 Entrepreneurs and community leaders selected for their leadership skills, offering a unique product or innovative service, being involved in the community by supporting non-profit organizations, making a difference in the world as they have made a mark in their industry, and empowering other entrepreneurs and creating growth opportunities within their community.

Of the award, Lazkani states, “I am extremely grateful to be honored for something as near and dear to my heart as entrepreneurship. I've always been a firm believer in creating opportunity, not only within my own company but with my clients and the amazing organizations we work with. Many thanks to the World Networks for recognizing the hard work that goes into being an entrepreneur.”

The awards ceremony was held at Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles the evening of December 8, 2015. Guests of the ceremony included over 250 international entrepreneurs, investors, political figures, trend setters, entertainment industry professionals, press contacts and celebrities.  

Icon Media Direct Ranked in 2015 Top Women Owned Businesses in the San Fernando Valley

Icon Media Direct Ranked in 2015 Top Women Owned Businesses in the San Fernando Valley

Icon Media Direct was named in the 2015 Top Women Owned Businesses in the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Valley Business Journal compiles lists each year to spotlight the details, stats and facts about the current champions of each industry within the San Fernando Valley. Icon Media Direct, founded by CEO Nancy Lazkani, ranked 7th on the list of companies in all categories and 1st among advertising agencies.

LA Business Journal Ranks Icon Media Direct in 2015 Top 50 Advertising Agencies

LA Business Journal Ranks Icon Media Direct in 2015 Top 50 Advertising Agencies

Icon Media Direct was named in the 2015 Top Ad Agencies in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Business Journal compiles lists each year to spotlight the details, stats and facts about the current champions of each industry within the the greater Los Angeles area. This is the third consecutive year the rapidly growing agency has been featured on the Top 50 Ad Agencies list. 

Nancy Lazkani Named CEO of the Year: SFVBJ Women in Business Awards

Nancy Lazkani Named CEO of the Year: SFVBJ Women in Business Awards

[As published in the April 21, 2014 issue of San Fernando Valley Business Journal]


The San Fernando Valley Business Journal celebrated and honored the women of outstanding achievement in the Valley business community. The Women in Business Awards luncheon was held at the Sheraton Universal Hotel on Tuesday April 15, 2014.

Described by attendees as an uplifting and inspirational event, the celebration honored valley-based professional women who have led by example and provided inspirational success stories for the Business Journal year round. Hundreds of nominees were submitted by readers, which the judges had the unenviable task of narrowing the field down to ten honorees for this year's big event.

Specifically categorized Awards of Recognition were presented to a group of women who have truly blazed a path in business excellence in their respective fields. Lazkani was awarded the prestigious honor of CEO of the Year for 2014.

Icon Media Direct wins 2 Silver Communicator Awards of Distinction

Icon Media Direct Wins 2 Silver Communicator Awards of Distinction

Icon Media Direct received two silver awards of distinction in this year's annual Communicator Awards for their OxiClean Stain Guide and OxiClean Uses Campaigns.

The print campaigns were both awarded Silver Awards of Distinction in the Magazine Ad category. The Communicator Awards is sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, an invitation-only group consisting of top-tier professionals from acclaimed media, communications, advertising, creative and marketing firms. AIVA members include executives from organizations such as Airtype Studio, Big Spaceship, Conde Nast, Coach, Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, Fry Hammond Barr, Lockheed Martin, MTV Networks, Pitney Bowes, rabble+rouser, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Time, Inc, Victoria’s Secret, Wired, and Yahoo! 

OxiClean Stain Guide Campaign

OxiClean Uses Campaign

Icon Media Direct’s CEO Nancy Lazkani Earns DRMA Member of the Year Award

Icon Media Direct’s CEO Nancy Lazkani Earns DRMA Member of the Year Award

[As published in the January 2013 issue of Response Magazine]

Response Magazine and the direct response marketing alliance (DRMA) salute Nancy Lazkani, long-time leader of Sherman Oaks, California - based Icon Media Direct, as the 2012 DRMA Member of the Year. Lazkani’s victory in an industry vote became official during a brief ceremony in front of more than 300 industry insiders at the DRMA Winter Bash in New York on December 11.

“Nancy’s dedication to the direct response business, along with her commitment to the growth and success of this business and the DRMA, earned the lion’s share of votes among our members and make her incredibly deserving of this Member of the Year honor,” says John Yarrington, publisher of Response and co-founder of the DRMA. “With more than 800 votes casted by our members, it’s clear that the competition was strong, and while Nancy has earned this award, the rest of our nominees earned their recognition as well.”

Recently, Response sat down with Lazkani to get her thoughts on being named the DRMA’s Second Annual Member of the Year.

Q:  What does it mean to you and your company to be named the DRMA Member of the Year?

A:  The recognition by industry peers is an honor beyond belief. Not only do I absolutely love what I do, but I am also very proud of how the industry has grown in the past 27 years. I am humbled by the recognition. It means more to me than a trophy that sits on a shelf. It is proof that if you do an honest job for all the right reasons, people will recognize it. It means that I have made my company proud, and it is a representation of their contributions, hard work and dedication as well. It means to my clients that the industry has recognized us as a well-respected leader. It means I must carry on the obligation to keep learning, growing and expanding our company’s expertise into the next generation of marketing. It means that when I start to feel tired, I need to keep going because people are watching, and I have to set an example. It means that all the hard work and effort is worth it through good times and bad. So, thank you to both friends and strangers who cast their vote in support of this honor.

Q: Why do you think your efforts and contributions to the DR business helped earn you this accolade?

A: My efforts are not just on my own behalf and that of my company, but also a desire to carry the torch for the direct response industry as a whole. Twenty-seven years ago, “direct response” were words that the advertising industry did not recognize as a legitimate business. It’s been a long and hard journey to get to where we are today. My efforts have always been centered on doing whatever it takes to make my clients successful. When you work with the mindset that whatever you do has an accountability and a measurement of success of failure, it’s what you do with those efforts and experiences that make a difference. When you have a team of experts who work hard to cultivate a community of companies that market products, it keeps the economy going. Media and marketing are only a small portion of the industry’s contribution. When we do all the right things for all the right reasons, it touches and helps others companies in the space to be successful. When we create successful media campaigns for our clients, we sell products, and someone has to make a phone call through a telemarketing service or go online to order a product through a web landing page, use a credit card to make a purchase, use a fulfillment company to put the product in a box and then ultimately use a shipping company to deliver the product. We need lawyers to protect our clients’ assets; we need trade associations to help keep the collaboration of industry experts together to lobby for all I just spoke about. So by being on the side of the fence that helps our great marketers – who are both entrepreneurs and corporate giants – we touch the lives of many. And if our efforts are smart and unselfish, we help to win the war in a down economy. I think about what my company’s efforts have contributed every time I walk through a Target, Wal-Mart or Bed Bath and Beyond – three of the largest retail giants in the United States— and I see so many products we represent. Products like OxiClean and Kaboom have had amazing journeys since their launched in the DR space, and now you find them in the laundry aisle in almost every retail store. They are the No. 1 stain fighting products in the category. Words cannot express how proud I am of that.

Q: How has the DRMA helped your business? What do you believe working with the DRMA does to create a better business atmosphere for you and the industry?

A: DRMA is an amazing constituent for our industry. Its leaders have devoted countless hours and have gone through so much to create a forum that is non-biased and represents its members for the purpose of helping our industry grow through collaboration. DRMA not only values the mature and long-standing industry leaders, but it also has done a great job in helping to recognize the new “up-and-comers” in our industry. DRMA has helped my business because it gives us a platform for education and keeping the networking events meaningful and collaborative. It feels like a big family reunion every time I attend and event and I support these efforts because it is what helps keep the industry and its reputation moving forward in a positive direction.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A:  This past year was the year of going from “high touch” to “high tech.” We have invested in our efforts to get more efficient with our processes to deliver data and information faster and more efficiently to our clients. We have been working with our networks to transform our billing and information through automation, and – by doing this – it has enabled us to deliver paperless data feeds into our systems and, in turn, give clients what they want faster. We also continue to improve our proprietary Webtraxx® data tracking system. This is a very important part of the future, as consumers utilize the online community for order processing and information gathering. Being able to understand the data analytics behind our clients’ marketing efforts is the fundamental difference between direct response agencies and a typical general market agency that utilizes only ratings delivery to determine success. The traditional model of advertising is going the way of the dinosaur, and I know many heads of traditional agencies that are baffled and are just now starting to pay attention to what the clients are saying. The marketing is too fragmented not to pay attention to the data. Those who do and continue to work with companies to provide consumer data analytics will be the survivors. Many try to call it something different, but what this really is direct response. No one will ever perfect data algorithms, but as long as we keep trying and continue to be smarter about the clients’ marketing investments, their businesses will prosper and – at the end of the day – so will we.

Q: How did the successful products you worked with during the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changes the way you do business? If so, how?

A: We have one client that has an online service that a utilized traditional agency and bought their media purely on a CPM basis. When we took over their media buying business, we did our research and homework on what the consumer profile was and layered that information with our database of consumer behavior for similar demographics. We then planned and bought our media around the research and WebTraxx® analysis and continued to optimize their campaign. The end result was a 30 percent increase in business over the prior year and a 60 percent expansion to other media properties, which meant new customers because we manage the campaign based on true accountability of results analytics.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months?

A:  It’s about lifting more weights to continue to get stronger and build more muscle mass. Clients are looking for ways to put their advertising dollars to work, and I see confusion and more fragmentation in the marketing world. It’s kind of like the wild, wild west. But those companies that utilize agencies that are more efficient with advertising budgets and account for results are going win in the long run. So off to the weight room I go!


Demosuasion®: Demonstration & Persuasion in Direct Response

Demosuasion®: Demonstration & Persuasion in Direct Response

[As published in the May 2012 issue of Response Magazine]

One of the most powerful tools in any sale is the power of persuasion. The fundamentals of Direct Response advertising combine persuasion with highly effective product demonstration and accountability metrics to maximize efficiency.

David Ogilvy, heralded as the “Father of Advertising” said this of Direct Response Marketing in a 1985 speech to DMA attendees: “...I predict that the practitioners of general advertising are going to start learning from [direct response advertisers’] experience. They’re going to start picking your brains... Direct Response was my first love... and later, it became my secret weapon.”

Why was one of advertising’s most iconic moguls so sold on the future success of Direct Response so long ago? Ogilvy appreciated how Direct Response tells consumers very clearly what the product does, why they need it and how to get it; while backing it all up with measured, accountable data.

In my experience in Direct Response, I’ve seen the success of combining demonstration and persuasion, time and time again. The practice has evolved greatly in the past 30 years, but the basic fundamentals of speaking directly and clearly to the consumer to elicit a sale still hold true today. This delicate combination is something I call “Demosuasion® .”


First let’s take a look at demonstration’s role in Direct Response. The most successful direct marketing campaigns have typically employed effective product demonstration to generate initial demand for a product. Marketers gravitate toward products that do what they claim and have that “wow” factor in demonstration.

Think back to the first time you saw Billy Mays pour a scoop of OxiClean into the big glass bowl of rust-colored water, and in less than a few seconds, the water was clean and full of oxygenated bubbles. If we look back at what made products like this successful, it’s that they consistently demonstrated the product's unique selling proposition and benefits, and gave consumers clear, precise direction on how they can get the product to achieve the same results.


There are two approaches to persuasion in advertising: Emotional and Rational. Rational persuasion taps into the consumers’ analytical side, while emotional concentrates on what consumers are feeling. If we break persuasion down a bit more, understanding basic human response is a key element to discovering how to communicate effectively with consumers.

The American Psychological Association published a report surrounding the research of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., a renowned expert in the “science of swaying,” which studied the tactics of persuasion utilized by a wide range of salespeople from used-car dealers to Fortune 500 executives alike.

Cialdini categorized his findings into “Six Weapons of Influence,” each of them being grounded in the psychology of how people perceive themselves or others and what effectively drives human behavior (See Fig 1). Whichever creative approach an advertiser chooses to use, it is essential to create an immediate bond with the consumer in order to change or maintain an attitude, build a brand’s image and persuade customers to buy the product.

With the emergence of readily available technology and outlets such as YouTube, social networks, applications, etc., it is particularly important to understand the fundamentals of what motivates people to take action, and how to harness the powers of demosuasion® to effectively market a product. Marketers should understand that there is an art to communicating properly to your target consumer and the best bet for any campaign’s success is to partner with an agency that utilizes extensive research and experience to reach consumers in the most effective manner possible.

An Icon Built for the Future

An Icon Built for the Future

[As published in the May 2012 issue of Response Magazine]

Not many leaders in the direct response industry can call on more than a quarter-century of experience when making big decisions for their clients. But Nancy Lazkani, president and CEO of Icon Media Direct in Los Angeles, is one of them, notching 27 years in the DR space.

Lazkani’s agency is celebrating its 12th anniversary this month, but that celebration is more about what’s to come than what’s past. The Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member company has seen its staff grow from an initial group of 10 employees to upwards of 90 staffers today. But the key, Lazkani says, for the DR agency that specializes in campaign management, media planning, and analytics, is to always be on the lookout for the emerging trends and technology.

“One area of growth for Icon Media Direct is in our Hispanic division,” Lazkani says. “We’ve invested a lot in staffing and technology in that area. There are 50 million Hispanics in the marketplace now. Five to 10 years ago, it was a very hard area to break into, but today we see a plethora of telemarketing agencies with the capability of taking on Hispanic operations. We see that the Hispanic population is growing on the Web. Having our finger on the pulse of that demographic is very important to the growth of our company.”

Lazkani also contends the expansion of opportunities to reach Hispanic consumers is driving this growth. “It used to be just Univision, Galavision and Telemundo,” she says. “Now, there are a lot of digital Hispanic networks out there, and its growing by leaps and bounds. That opens up a lot of opportunity for targeting the Hispanic marketplace. As with the domestic marketplace, we’re able to drive retail— and we can see growth at Wal-Mart and Target with a relatively amount of spend.”

While these newer networks may be in limited households, Lazkani say they allow for spectacular targeting opportunities for smart DR marketers. “If we’re buying a digital Hispanic network that’s only in 1.7 million homes— vs. the 12 million homes that Univision is in – we see an effect on that group,” she contends. “That’s a very effective 1.7 million homes. The efficiencies are going to be there, the choices are going to be there – and we’re there too.”

A second area Icon Media Direct and Lazkani are capitalizing on is in DRTV-to-digital marketing. She contends clients including TrueCar.com and MaxMySpeed.com are seeing great success in drive-to-Web DR campaigns thanks to Icon WebTraxx®, the company’s proprietary algorithmic technology that tracks responses.

But, Lazkani says, the roots of Icon Media Direct’s measurement technology track back to the company’s early days, when it created algorithms to measure response for a vanity telephone number for one of its first clients, Hooked on Phonics.

“In today’s environment, TV and digital are synergistic. They have to work together. However, like the vanity number we tracked for Hooked on Phonics – 1-800-ABCDEFG – we’re running on every cable network, on all dayparts which creates a flood of data,” Lazkani says. “There’s also a flood of the number of spots that run. What makes DR what it is today is being able to track and have accountability for the media expenditure and how consumers are responding to that expenditure.”

She says Icon WebTraxx harnesses where digital technology is moving direct response marketing. “Every client is different as far as its algorithms are concerned,” she says. “For instance, with TrueCar.com  and MaxMySpeed.com, we’re looking at specific Web visits and unique visits against the media we’re running. How is Comedy Central doing vs. Spike? How is MTV doing vs. VH-1? We have to know what the lag time if for someone seeing the actual spot then visiting the website.”

While she says 100-percent accuracy is impossible to reach, Icon Media Direct is reaching 70-percent to 80-percent accuracy with Icon WebTraxx. “When you’re that accurate, you can optimize your media buy and understand the key data points to where and why consumers are responding,” Lazkani adds.

Another opportunity for DR marketers comes along with the digital video recorder (DVR)/ video-on-demand (VOD) era that has many in the DR business running scared. Lazkani says new digital TV technology should be seen as an incredible opportunity for DR marketers.

“TV is here to stay,” Lazkani says. “TV numbers are not dying; they’re just becoming more fragmented. What does that mean for the direct response industry? To me, it’s a good thing. If you have few choices— and you have demand on those few choices— there becomes a false sense of demand for pricing. And DR advertisers and general advertisers end up paying the price for that.”

But, Lazkani says, fragmentation both on TV and driven by the likes of YouTube, Hulu and other digital content options create more opportunity. “Content is king, whether it’s on TV, YouTube or Hulu. VOD is growing exponentially. We’re in that space with our advertisers. It’s not just about, ‘Let’s get a million impressions!’ It really is about the right impression— those impressions that are responding to the message. Direct response marketers know if those consumers are responding, because we’re seeing consumers picking up the phone or going online,” she says.

Lazkani believes in VOD and other digital opportunities for DR advertisers, she says, because she’s seen it work. “One of the reasons that’s working so well is because it’s a space where we’re not crowded in with a bunch of other advertising messages in a pod. With TV, you’ve got two- or three- minute breaks of advertising messages. If you’ve got a two-minute spot, you’re not as crowded with other advertisers, and maybe that’s why the two-minute format works so well in TV. But then you narrow it down to a 60- second or a 30- second— or even a 15- second— spot and your message is not as impactful when shared with other ad messages. With VOD or online digital, your placement will be on the pre-roll, the mid-roll or the post-roll. Consumers are engaged in that ad because it’s not a long, crowded message space.”

Direct Response is the Word!

As Icon Media Direct reaches its 12th anniversary, Lazkani, has a message for direct response marketers: “Direct Response is not an ugly word!”

She says the image of DR has changed, thanks to the success of the method and the trust placed in it by powerful brand marketers. “Fifteen years ago, when you said it, you almost covered your mouth, because we weren’t treated as legitimate advertisers. Now, DR means so many things to so many companies,” Lazkani says.

She says all of the new technological advances affecting the marketing world, from the Web to digital TV, can trace their effectiveness as marketing outlets to the original tenets of direct response marketing. “All the newfound technologies coming our way are about direct response,” Lazkani adds. “It’s part of this evolution. It’s accountability advertising, and that’s where the future is going. I love being in the direct response business. Icon Media Direct is here to stay. In the next 12 years, we’re going to be very involved in this revolution. And we’re going to be right there in front.”

The Evolution of the Consumer: How Emerging Technology Affects Customer Response

The Evolution of the Consumer:  How Emerging Technology Affects Customer Response

[As published in the December 2011 issue of Response Magazine]

Today’s consumers have a wide array of purchasing options at their fingertips. Is your firm reaching all of them effectively?

Consumers can buy at retail, place a telephone order, buy online using a desktop, laptop or tablet, or even seal the deal using their smart phones and mobile apps. In order to reach all potential buyers on their own terms, marketers have to be tapped into all of these options and more.

Changing consumer habits and the rapid proliferation of technology is creating this perfect storm for companies selling direct to customers. On one hand, this new “on-demand” environment opens doors for companies that may have previously been relegated to one or two selling channels. At the same time, juggling multiple ordering systems can tax the firm that traditionally brought in most of its sales using one or two platforms.

Consumers may have gained access to a growing number of ordering platforms but what hasn’t changed much are the ways in which these buyers are enticed or persuaded to take action. According to Deloitte Consulting’s most recent “State of the Media Democracy” report, 71% of Americans rate watching TV (on any type of device) as their favorite media activity. An even larger group (86% of respondents) claims that TV advertising has the greatest impact on its buying decisions.

These numbers should be music to the ears of any advertiser who allocates the largest part of their media budgets to television. Now, throw in the fact that 42% of Americans are online and another 29% are using their mobile devices while the TV is on, and the need for a multi-channel approach to the selling cycle becomes that much more important. Multi-tasking is commonplace in living rooms today, and if marketers aren’t there to quickly give consumers what they want, they are on to the next keyword. It’s that easy!

Getting there takes a multifaceted approach that incorporates not only telemarketing (for calls taken directly from TV), but also a user-friendly online shopping cart, a mobile website and/or app and direct connections with social media efforts through sites like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. A consumer who reads a Twitter follower’s rave reviews about your firm’s latest product, for example, will be more apt to buy if the interface and order processing is easy and user-friendly.

Knowing that 30% – 60% or more of a DRTV campaign’s sales are captured online, the case for creating a wide variety of purchasing platforms for consumers is pretty clear. According to the LMX Study from IPSOS OTX Mediact, as of Spring 2011, tablets have reached 10% penetration among U.S. online consumers ages 13-74. Searching for information makes up 49% of tablet activity, which is a prime opportunity for marketers to reach engaged, information-hungry consumers. Without these additional channels companies severely limit their campaigns’ potential impact and typically wind up isolating entire demographics.

More ordering options are sure to emerge as consumer habits morph and as marketers seek out ways to reach those consumers on their own turf. QR codes (barcodes that viewers can scan with mobile phones that whisk them off to specific websites/special offers), for example, present significant opportunity for marketers looking to expand their reach and utilize new platforms that lead to sales. These and other options are especially attractive for firms that acknowledge changing consumer preferences and that truly understand the value of creating user-friendly shopping options that bring an ad to life and impact a wide variety of customers.

The three key steps to successful, accountable marketing are:

  1. Know your customer and what they respond to.
  2.  Know where consumers are coming from and track results to optimize your ad spend.
  3.  Ensure your marketing efforts are synergistic across all platforms.

Now more than ever before, it is essential to track consumer response to your marketing efforts to cut out what isn’t working effectively and increase what is working - this should include visits, conversion rates and sales by platform in addition to what’s selling on the retail shelf. Icon Media Direct is on the forefront of adapting the DRTV model to the current technological landscape by maintaining the basic fundamentals geared to achieve maximum ROI on our client’s marketing efforts.

Passion About ROI Advertising Model

Passion About ROI Advertising Model

Icon Media Direct is Dedicated to the Discipline, Especially Its Clients

[As published in the October 10, 2011 issue of Forbes]

Nancy Lazkani, CEO, Icon Media Direct

Nancy Lazkani, CEO, Icon Media Direct

No one has money to waste these days. Every company large or small, startup or Fortune 500, needs to get the most for its advertising dollars; which is why Direct Response advertising has never looked so good. Direct Response is the ideal choice for any company looking for the best and most immediate return-on-investment (ROI), says Nancy Lazkani, founder and CEO of Icon Media Direct.

Icon Media Direct is a Direct Response agency that specializes in campaign management media planning & buying, ROI optimization and analytics for the U.S., Canada and U.S. Hispanic marketplaces. The Los Angeles-based agency has helped fuel the tremendous growth if such household names as OxiClean, Proactiv, Space Bag and more.

The Passion is Evident

What sets us apart is our passion,” says Lazkani, who started Icon Media Direct in 2000. “The reason for our existence is to grow our clients’ businesses. Everyone throughout the company, from CEO to receptionist, shares our contagious passion for success. We invest in a common vision to be innovative and creative, as we construct the most strategic and comprehensive media plans possible for our clients.”

The company’s passion is distinctly evident when paying a visit to their corporate headquarters in Sherman Oaks, CA; where Nancy leads a team if approximately 100 top-tier media professionals. The uniquely vibrant atmosphere is something that hits visitors immediately upon walking through the door. Whether it’s clients coming in to brainstorm, potential candidates vying to join the team, or industry partners presenting the latest in innovation; the incredible culture and ambiance are something visitors comment on, time and time again. Warmth, passion, and dedication shine through every employee while walking through the halls of their offices. This essence radiates what makes Icon Media Direct so successful. This collective purpose droves the company to thrive as an agency, particularly in today’s economy.

Touted as one of the Top 10 BEST Places to work by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal year after year, Icon Media Direct proudly retains employees and clients who have been with the agency for over a decade. “When you create a passionate environment, it has to come from the top,” Lazkani says. “Our assets at Icon Media Direct are our people— that is really what drives the business. If my employees didn’t have that passion behind what we do, that passion would not flow through to our clients.. It’s a natural evolution for us, and when you have it, clients see it. It shows through in the work and everyone wins. There’s no better formula.”

Passionate About Clients’ Success

The firm’s passionate ethos also results in tremendous value for advertising clients. Because DR advertising elicits a direct response from the consumer to the advertiser, it allows for negotiation of significant media discounts. But unlike most Direct Response agencies, Icon Media Direct combines savings and response with proven general advertising tactics.

“This is our unique ‘hybrid’ approach,” Nancy explains. “We take a comprehensive look at things like competitive spending and messaging, product market share, retail considerations and consumer research to construct a Direct Response campaign geared toward reaching the client’s sales goals. We then utilize the consumer response from the advertisement to maximize return-on-investment.”

Icon Media Direct’s clients range from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. The firm’s extensive background and industry relationships provide the depth necessary to research, negotiate and purchase media that delivers for all its clients, which include Church & Dwight, Guthy-Renker, TeleBrands and Nutrisystem, just to name a few.

Considering all the choices available for marketers, it’s clear that Icon Media Direct is doing something right. It has a track record of retaining clients and growing their businesses year over year.

“We believe your campaign should be as unique as your product and should demonstrate why your product stands out from its competitive set,” says Lazkani. “It is imperative to work with a media agency that can act swiftly and aggressively to capitalize on today’s consumer market. It’s not just what we do— it’s how we do it. We bring exceptional knowledge. Responsiveness, commitment and,  of course, passion to every campaign.”


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