Audience Fragmentation and Market Pressure…When Should Marketers Change Strategy?

The Sentinel GroupBy Adam Warren of The Sentinel Group® Temecula, CA.

It is crucial for attorneys to understand the ever-changing landscape of advertising and to keep a strong base of available TV time to generate lead/case acquisition flow.  Knowing how to identify the effects of special programming such as the Olympics, sweeps, season finales and ongoing pressure on available TV inventory is key to operating an effective and efficient advertising campaign.

There are also patterns in media such as when TV inventory will be more available than others that cycle by quarter and allows for some predictive analysis of what to expect enabling you a plan of action when media changes occur. Here we will address some of the market pressures on your ad inventory and how to work around it.

Media Pressure

As an advertising veteran since 2001 when I sold time on national TV all over the country as well as throughout my performance-driven media career, I’ve seen my share of political impact on media as one of many forms of market pressure and audience fragmentation that takes place.  As an advertiser, it is important that attorneys know what to do about it.  If you do not know, then it is equally important that your agency or buying representative does.

In general, there will always be some kind of pressure on TV inventory caused by under-delivery on rating points, major news events, and the time of the year. Yes, even weather or movement in the stock market has affected inventory and caused viewership fragmentation. All of this can devalue your TV spot or weaken its potential for delivery of leads.

You have to know when your current strategy stops working, and what you need to do to adjust. Do not just accept your losses and continue as is.  Make a move, let the media refresh, and expand your message to new viewers. That being said, if you know you have winning media buys that may be in a temporary slump, do not pull 100% of your schedule.

This is where objectivity and smart navigation comes into play. Leave an advertising position in places that work (this is especially relevant to performance-driven inventory) because advertising works in cycles and good TV times may come back. You want to be ready when it does, so keep some advertising intact while pioneering new ground to inspire growth and lead/case acquisition.

Knowing When To Move

The Cook Political Report estimates that 2016 political ad spending will top $4.4 billion in races for Congress in battleground states, governors, presidential, and so on. They further estimate that $3.3 billion will go to local broadcast and $800 million will go into local cable.  Total ad spends seems to be increasing and according to Nielsen Ad Intel Competitive Media Reporting, this election year will top 2012 by 146%.

As the available TV time gets squeezed in a way not normal to the ad cycle, where do all the displaced advertisers go? There are 34 battleground states in this presidential election from New Hampshire to Virginia. Be ready to pivot your strategies! There is a belief in marketing circles that light is ahead for campaigns that have had to fight tooth and nail to keep their ad positions intact.  

Many believe that the political spending in the primary election will see a greater spend and inventory pressure than the general election. Likely, much of the money will be spent as we get closer to the finish line and this is a signal of when to be ready to pivot again.  As inventory becomes available, be ready to diversify.  This is the time to capture market share and negotiate hard for your schedules or performance media placements.

Leveraging a Multimedia Strategy

Sophisticated media managers and the systems they use should understand when diversifying or riding out the storm  is a must.  Most campaigns today should have a complimenting strategy that moves seamlessly between TV (local, national, regional), radio, digital (utilizing various lead capture methods from landing pages to programmatic) and print as it makes sense. (Side note: print is a quality component of a marketing strategy, however, it is a long-haul tactic and takes patience to ramp up.)

Using cash buys and performance-driven media as hybrid and/or interchangeable strategies is another form of a pivot key to staying on track with your campaign goals.  The audience is always fragmented and diversified and a savvy marketer will make sure to find the audience wherever they may be.

We have found tried and true strategies can fall short when developing mass media and local media plans for many mass tort campaigns and other single-event cases this year.  Where we have overcome this challenge is having the ability to move quickly and precisely allowing us to pivot to alternative media strategies that are still efficient and cost effective.

If you are unable to transition from one media type to another based on the movement of the market, you will slow your ability to garner the traffic you are looking to attract and will lose precious time and fiscal opportunity working to create a variety of Plan B’s.

Find The Win

Viewer eyeballs are always on the move.  As an example, consider the potential increase in various daypart ratings for NBC and its affiliates running the Olympic coverage.  The increase in viewers for the Olympics by comparison to regular programming, which may show a lesser audience in regular no-event based schedules, is coming from somewhere. NBC has experienced enormous rating boosts from the Olympics. What does that mean for other networks and how as a marketer can you move with the audience spectrum be it on or offline to find continued benefit? It is key to recognize when it’s not just a challenge, but an opportunity.  Identifying fragmentation and programming changes per major events can be your next epic media win if you already have your pivot move in place. Make sure your marketing firm maintains a diverse breadth of experience and media portfolio and change will be your friend.


About The Sentinel Group: The Sentinel Group® is the legal marketing division and premium brand of full-service advertising firm OpenJar Concepts®.  TSG has become one of the most widely recognized and successful brands in lead generation for case acquisition. We understand how to walk the line between what media needs in ROI and what law firms need in their packet economics. The OJC/TSG team has over 40 years of combined mass media, performance-driven lead generation experience, using mass media vehicles such as TV, RADIO, PRINT and DIGITAL. The TSG senior management team has successfully been involved in the advertising for nearly every Mass Tort campaign during the last decade plus, dating back to 2001.

The core of TSG merges the perfect balance between deep media and client relationships with in-house proprietary tracking capability, utilizing our system TrafTrack®, for unlimited reporting technologies. We offer one of the most robust license and back end free trademark protected content libraries industry wide (in many cases with complimenting web/landing page components) for our clients to utilize either with or without their own law firm brands to scale in ways previously not possible. TSG couples our media savvy and technology prowess with in-house production allowing us to move fast to market with unique quality content. We enable the possibility of driving leads cost effectively with an aggressive movement towards market share. TSG maintains Tier 1 relationships with the top most endorsed legal focused intake facilities and law firm funding partners all ready to engage and deploy with you. Together, our pieces of the case acquisition puzzle provide endless solutions to enabling a cost effective platform for driving quality calls and leads to our network of participating law firms. Simply, this is…. WHERE THE CASE BEGINS™.

For further information:

Contact Phone: 800.TSG.Tort (800.874.8678)

The Web:






Performance Marketing…When Economics Collide

The Sentinel GroupBy Adam Warren of The Sentinel Group®, Temecula, CA.

On the heels of the recent AAJ conference, as I reflect back on many of the conversations we had related to this topic, I thought it made sense to share.

If you are deep into mass tort marketing or other forms of legal marketing such as single-event cases, there is no doubt that you have either tried or have been pitched on performance-driven media. There is a special attraction for law firms to this type of business that creates potential plaintiffs from phone calls on a fixed rate per call basis.

Yet, in this instance, you are not paying for the media spots that clear, but rather the phone calls you receive that reach the billable formula. Performance exists within some of these familiar metrics ranging from cost per call, cost per acquisition, cost per lead and so on.

Two different languages

Law firms and marketing firms are typically speaking two different languages when it comes to performance marketing techniques and law firm case acquisition ambitions. Why does a law firm care about the cost per call? Well, truth is they don’t! Further clarifying, they do not care about the cost per call as long as their cost per packet goals are met.

However, it is a conversation that the marketing firm must have in order to find an agreeable financial arrangement with media to secure ad inventory across various media inclusive of TV, radio, print or digital. What do the law firms care about? They care about their cost per packet out!

How do we make sense of these conversations when they collide? It is important that the marketing firm you choose understands the divide between packet- and call-based economics and how the come together when using the right firm. Whether you are talking about IVC, Xarelto, talcum powder, Nexium or single event catastrophic injury, the conversation that needs to take place is how you get to the packet cost while satisfying the media with the cost per call or other common media metrics. Sounds simple? Well, it can be.

An experienced marketing firm should have the technology to monitor call occurrences and tracking by 800 number. Information that can be derived from call occurrences includes but is not limited to the caller ANI (auto number identifier), zip code, media origin, intake quality control, listening features and so on. If technology is not at the core of the campaign, this marriage is close to impossible to achieve.

Campaign ROI

Firms should also understand how pricing can fluctuate and ways in which campaign ROI can be maximized to the media and the law firm client. If you wish to have an ongoing and scalable campaign, you must understand how to create wins on both sides of this coin. Data is an ever-moving target and it is imperative that data drives decisions.

If your marketing firm is not data-centric, how will they know what media bolsters the packet cost objectives vs. plummeting it? Does your marketing firm offer quality control? How will the marketing firm identify poor performing media or 800 numbers or protect you from spam and wrong dials? Not knowing how to spot potentially damaging campaign data that can quickly tank your packet costs makes it impossible for the law firm and marketing firm to come together on the mutual objective of marrying the performance economics with the packet economics.

Buyer beware! There are a lot of false guarantees and impossible promises out there in case acquisition. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Make sure your firm of choice not only understands the case and your objectives but also has the means to execute from data to distribution to achieve your objectives and merge the economics of different languages to proceed in a decisive and informed manner.

For further information:

Contact Phone: 800.TSG.Tort (800.874.8678)

Winning The Game of Case Acquisition

Click to view the slides below. This program was presented February 7-9, 2016, by Adam Warren, CEO & President of The Sentinel Group at The National Trial Lawyers Summit in Miami, FL.

Introduction- The Playbook & Building a Winning Team!

There are a number of elements that have to be taken into consideration to properly develop and execute a winning marketing campaign strategy for case acquisition.  While it would be easy to detail dozens of assets that must come together in just the right way to achieve the goal of utilizing both online and offline marketing that is both cost effective and achieves great case quality, breaking these complex ideas into a simple process is a good first step to a successful marketing approach.

Winning the game of using marketing for case acquisition is in many ways similar to putting together a winning team on the football field, or in any sports endeavor.  It starts with an essential playbook, with that playbook focusing on four key areas:

  • Media
  • Intake
  • Marketing Team
  • Technology

Here are some details on each of these key elements:

Media – Having the right approach to media is critical to success of any campaign.  For television, knowing what networks, what day parts, and what rate to buy media can make or break a campaign.  Is a guaranteed cost per call approach to obtaining media time, also termed “performance” media a better way to go, or is a targeted cash approach?  How does radio compare to television, or does a digital approach make more sense?  Perhaps a blended strategy will help the law firm with a particular case type.  Understanding when, where, and how to apply the right kind of media to marketing case acquisition is fundamental to a successful campaign.

Intake – Arguably the single most important aspect to campaign success.  We’ve seen many law firms waste precious financial resources on building a campaign and acquiring media only to lose good cases to poor intake.  Having the right intake team who understands the details on the cases you’re working to achieve can literally make or break many campaigns.  Also important is to have an intake team large enough so ring times to answer and wait times to talk to a representative are mitigated, and also having a 24/7 intake is critical to making sure calls are answered regardless of the time of day the call is being placed.

Marketing Team – Make sure to spend the time to ask questions and do research to find the best marketing team you can.  A good marketing team will have decades of media experience behind them using marketing assets for case acquisition, and understand how to blend media in the right approach to maximize case acquisition and find the lowest cost per intake and lowest cost per case acquired numbers possible.

Technology – The foundation of all successful campaigns, our system is known as TrafTrack®.  It uses powerful technology and provides our clients equally powerful tools to track, analyze, and understand what’s happening in their campaign, all in real time.   Calls are recorded digitally in the system, and as a campaign grows and matures TrafTrack will continually update to optimize the campaign to improve on quality.


Every year, 30% of the US Population uses legal services, for a total of 103,480,348 new legal actions every year.  That according to the National Center for State Courts

In 2015, 144 legal entities competed in the legal services space on Television, spending approximately $116,306,860 through October of 2015 to acquire clients and cases.

First Down- Media

The focus among the major channels of media, more specifically Television, Radio, Print and Digital for case acquisition is often best utilized using the type of campaign known as Direct Reponse.  This media type differs from general advertising in that a specific response is sought from the consumer of the advertising.  That specific response can take the form of a telephone call, a web form fill, text, and many others.

Many attorney firms have successfully utilized performance media to help them lower their cost to media while achieving high case quality.  There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to both a cash buy strategy and performance strategy that relate to how quickly the creative can be integrated into media, the speed by which the campaign can be pulled down, fluctuation of campaign results, and ability to target specific networks and day parts.

Second Down- Intake

While we have discussed the critical importance of having the right media, one single advantage of our intake solution is the ability to defer setup cost and call center fees to the back end portion of the campaign. This has helped law firms successfully avoid both risk and up front costs to launching a case acquisition campaign.

Some of the key performance indicators for measuring intake performance are cost per packet from media, and conversion rate by campaign measuring the ratio of intake calls to fee retainer agreements, and fee retainer agreements sent for signature measuring returns.

Third Down- Marketing

 OpenJar Concepts® delivers performance driven and traditional cash buying advertising spanning the breadth of television, radio, print, web, mobile, and digital.

The Sentinel Group® is OpenJar Concepts Brand for Legal Marketing.

Other legal brands that OpenJar Concepts has created include:  Justice, Alert, Tort Lawsuit, and Relief Line.

Fourth Down- Technology

The key to the technology delivered by TrafTrack® centers on the system ability to maximize ROI for any campaign by optimizing call volume and quality. It provides a simple and clear interface, and provides real time reporting tools giving users a clear view on call activity, caller information, and campaign status.

Newer campaigns can be delivered giving our law firm clients an essential “buffer” of up to 30 seconds, allowing for payment only on calls that have been vetted out thus increasing overall campaign performance.

Several campaigns that are more “mature” can better utilize an Interactive Voice Response (aka IVR) system allowing the caller to press a digit in response verifying that they have been a victim of the case type being advertised.


Virtually any case type works well with this approach to marketing, and is by no means limited to Mass Tort.  Other campaign case types that have historically worked well are among, but not limited to:

  • Trucking Accidents
  • Personal Injury
  • Nursing Home Abuse
  • Sexual Harrasment
  • Discrimination
  • Wage and Hour Disputes

In conclusion, like any winning strategy putting the right playbook together with the key elements of the right media, the right intake, the right marketing team, and the right technology will stack the deck in the favor of the law firm seeking a marketing approach to case acquisition.

Adam Warren 135

Adam Warren is CEO & President of OpenJar Concepts Inc.®/The Sentinel Group, 27710 Jefferson Ave., Suite 302, Temecula, CA 92590. He can be reached at (951) 296-9222 and online at

Protecting Your Firm Against Fraud in Advertising

securities fraud, the national trial lawyers top 100By Adam Warren, President, The Sentinel Group® and OpenJar Concepts®

Fraud. It’s everywhere…encompassing almost all aspects of our lives. More than ever, society is forced to protect itself from fraudulent perpetrators lurking in the shadows waiting to steal our identity, our money and our trust.

See Adam’s slides at 

At the Spring 2015 Mass Torts Made Perfect conference, I spoke to a banquet hall filled with attorneys on the topic of fraud in advertising. This topic is near and dear to our heart at The Sentinel Group, as we have experienced it firsthand. It can wreak havoc on your firm’s time, resources, and bottom line.

Here are some quick stats on fraud in advertising and what your firm can do to identify and protect itself against this nefarious multi-billion dollar industry.

Fraud on the Web

According to the Wall Street Journal, about 36% of all web traffic is considered fake; the by-product of computers hijacked by viruses and programmed to visit sites. In fact, Ad-Fraud detection firm White Ops reported that fraudsters had stolen $6 Billion in the U.S. alone.

The fake traffic comes from botnets (a number of internet computers that, although their owners are unaware of it, have been set up to forward transmissions, including spam or viruses, to other computers on the internet) that click on shady sites which have been created solely to generate false page-view impressions, gathering advertising dollars for site owners in the process.

WSJ also reported that the fraudsters erect sites with phony traffic and collect payments from advertisers through the middlemen who aggregate space across many sites and resell the space for most web publishers. The identity of fraudsters is murky, and they often operate overseas in places such as Eastern Europe, according to security experts.

Fraud in TV Advertising

You might think that there’s no fraud in television advertising. As they say in the Direct Response industry: “But Wait, There’s More!”

Toll Free Traffic Pumping is the latest trick that fraudsters use to separate advertisers from their money. The way it works is when a person makes a toll free call, that call is routed through several carriers before it reaches the end user. The fraudsters live somewhere in the downline of telephone carriers the call is routed through. They get paid for connecting the call to the next telephone carrier, regardless of if there’s an actual person on the line. They may only get a fraction of a penny per connection, but they do it millions of times a day.

Anyone who uses a toll free number may be affected. How will you know if you are a victim of toll free traffic pumping? If your firm or call center answers the phone and experiences:

  1. Dead Air (no one on the line)
  2. Tone or Music on the line

Implications of receiving toll free traffic pumping include:

  1. Lost productivity at call center
  2. Could impact call center metrics
  3. Law firm incurs expenses for unwanted calls


How to protect yourself

If you find that you are experiencing any of the above scenarios, immediately contact the advertising firm you are working with. If you are working directly with media, contact your account executive.

There are, unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers out there. If you are thinking of working with an advertising agency or lesser known media outlet, do your due diligence. Are they listed on the business credit rating firm Dunn & Bradstreet? Do they have a positive BBB rating? Positive word of mouth? Most of the time, if a company comes in and promises you too-good-to-be-true pricing, leads or cases volume, which should be seen as a red flag.

Another key component is to make sure you have a verifiable tracking system in place. At The Sentinel Group, we have spent a great deal of time and money to develop TrafTrack®, our proprietary call tracking and reporting system. This system allows our law firm partners to see every call as it comes in, the duration of the call as well as real time call recordings. If a call issue is noted that seems suspicious, our partners notify us and utilizing TrafTrack® we are able to identify the source of the fraud and at the very least block the number

While fraudulent activity will never go away completely, it is our goal to keep our law firm partners and agency relationships in the know as to what is happening out there and steer them clear of harm’s way.

Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions, and please be sure to peruse my other blogs on various topics of law firm advertising.

Adam WarrenAdam Warren is President and Co-Founder of OpenJar Concepts®, Inc. and its mass torts division The Sentinel Group™, a full service, direct response marketing and technology company in Temecula, CA, that offers lead generation campaigns on national TV, radio, print and mobile. He can be reached at and 951.296.9222 ext. 302.

Check out The Sentinel Group on YouTube.




In-House Client Intake vs. Call Centers

By Adam Warren

In-House Client Intake vs. Call CentersA law firm can spend all the money in the world on advertising and marketing, but if its intake sytem is not working properly, all of that money can and will be wasted. How your calls are handled is as important as what your commercial looks like.

In my previous blogs, I discussed the differences between running an advertisement branded to your law firm vs. utilizing generic branded campaigns. I also covered the differences between a traditional media cash buy vs. performance driven (cost per call) advertising. Now that you are up to speed on how you want to get the message out there, let’s talk about the other half… inbound calls are handled.

Without question, one of the biggest challenges we see when working with law firms is how they handle their intake. It makes or breaks the campaign because at the end of the day, conversion is king. If the call center lacks the ability to convert inbound calls to cases, there is a major problem. Each time the phone rings, there is an opportunity on the other end of that call. The intake is their first interaction with your firm. How are you going to come across?

Better results in-house

Based on years of experience in mass tort marketing, I can say that case acquisition is much better when a firm takes the calls in-house. Depending on your marketing strategy, you may need several intake specialists. Some law firms have dozens of paralegals doing intake 24/7 to ensure no lead will be missed.

Not every firm has the capacity or infrastructure to handle their own inbound call strategies. As an alternative, well-trained and specialized call centers often provide law firms with a valuable, cost effective way of handling intake. One thing to look for when engaging a call center is that they have quantifiable expertise in legal intake. You should be apprehensive about working with a center that answers calls for widgets on one call and then immediately answers calls for your mass tort or medical malpractice inquiries. They simply do not have the needed training or experience to manage cases of such high sensitivity beyond what they see in the script.

If basic lead intake info is your objective (that is, collecting name/phone/case inquiry), that scenario may work. We recommend US-based call centers for a number of reasons.

  • First, domestic callers tend to feel less guarded and more comfortable where they know they are speaking without language barriers.
  • Second, the ability to communicate with your call center contacts as needed by virtue of reducing time zone obstacles is a huge benefit. Calls keep coming, there is typically no time to waist when there’s an issue.
  • Additionally, there are some unscrupulous groups or individuals with overseas call centers that will illegally contact prospective clients to solicit their business based on promises of settlement distributions. Often, they will coerce the client into lying that they’ve been harmed just to pad the numbers for a suit (as in the case of MDL 2327, where Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon filed a motion for discovery related to plaintiff solicitation, filed 1/14/15).


Top 10 rules for success

Following are 10 things to remember in preparing for intake:

  1. Anyone answering the phone on behalf of a law firm should make sure to clearly reference the law firm’s name the moment the call is answered.
  2. Make sure your operators or paralegals are familiar with the intake scripts. Test several versions to find the most responsive and highest converting script.
  3. Speak clearly.
  4. Be polite.
  5. Do not engage arguments.
  6. Be efficient but do not be short. When it becomes clear that a call is going nowhere, be courteous and end the call. There could be good calls in the queue.
  7. Do not allow callers to experience more than two rings before answering.
  8. Avoid computerized interactive voice response (IVR) messages. IVR messages direct the caller into a menu, and callers will just hang up.
  9. Make sure your intake runs 24/7. Not everyone can call during business hours.
  10. When driving gender specific calls, it is always a good option to have corresponding gender answering the phones.


Whichever method you use for your intake, it’s important to remember that your firm’s perception is on the line when that call is answered. It could be the difference between winning and losing the client.

Adam WarrenAdam Warren is President and Co-Founder of OpenJar Concepts®, Inc. and its mass torts division The Sentinel Group™, a full service, direct response marketing and technology company in Temecula, CA, that offers lead generation campaigns on national TV, radio, print and mobile.



Should you Use Branded or Generic TV Advertising to Attract Mass Tort Cases?

xarelto commercial

Example of a generic TV commercial, which is not branded with a law firm name.

By Adam Warren

“To brand, or not to brand, that is the question…” OK, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Shakespeare wrote, but we get that question about TV advertising from attorneys from time to time. Some firms broadcast ads branded with a law firm name and others use generic ads that do not mention a law firm.

The fact is, this is does not have to be an either-or question. At its most basic principle, both options work.

Branded campaigns have the ability to make a law firm practically a household name. TV as a medium is a facilitator of trust and lends itself to making brands a trusted source of information or representation.

Recognized legal brands on TV such as Pulaski & Middleman inclusive of the 1-800-BAD-DRUG vanity phone number, Sokolove and Parilman & Associates, are just a few names seen on TV daily.

parilman branded TV commercial

Example of a TV commercial that is branded with a law firm name.

Branding also has benefits for web marketing and online lead capture. Should a consumer see a commercial and not want to speak with a lawyer initially or simply forget the phone number, there is a high probability that they will search out the brand online and locate the law firm separate of media cost. This is referred to as “organic lift” or “halo effect.”

Potential clients aren’t the only ones who know these names. Other mass tort attorneys look to these firms to acquire cases for their own dockets, allowing the name brand to do the advertising followed by the establishment of co-counsel or fee-sharing deals on the back end. Additionally, branding your law firm on television will help not only acquire customers but also alert the mass tort community that you may have cases that they want.

Generic TV advertising

In several instances, law firms would rather stay out of the spotlight when it comes to advertising. This does not mean they are not looking to acquire cases, or that they do not want to use the power of television to drive up their case acquisition. For a myriad of reasons, they prefer to keep their practice out of the limelight and save it for the courtroom.

These firms will instead join together and use a generic campaign. Examples of these types of campaigns include The Sentinel Group, TVM Advocates and Risperdal Alert. Many times multiple law firms will go in together on a campaign and use generic brands to drive calls to their perspective consortium also referred to lead aggregation.

Depending on a firm’s appetite for case acquisition, they will utilize both branded and generic campaigns so they can double up their efforts. Generic campaigns will also drive a halo effect but because they are generic in nature those leads will come at a cost.

It still represents an efficient spend as they are priced much less than live calls. This becomes even more attractive when firms incorporate a performance driven model where instead of paying upfront for the media buys, they only pay for the calls that come in from the advertising campaign.

In our next blog post, we will address how to implement a campaign into mass media marketing using television and how to use either or both a performance-driven model as well as a traditional cash-buy model.

Adam WarrenAdam Warren is President and Co-Founder of OpenJar Concepts®, Inc. and its mass torts division The Sentinel Group™, a full service, direct response marketing and technology company in Temecula, CA, that offers lead generation campaigns on national TV, radio, print and mobile.