EUROPEAN MEDIA: What comes up ... 2001 has certainly been a challenging year for European media owners and agencies. Lucy Aitken introduces Campaign's annual European media report

European media had a fantastic year in 2000. It is already being

nostalgically (and sometimes erroneously) remembered as a time when

budgets were bigger, jobs were safer and everyone did lunch.



Ad revenues grew due to new budgets from dotcoms, the Euro 2000 Football

Championships, the Olympics, countless IPOs and the last peak in the

cycle of economic boom. But, as we're reminded on a daily basis, what

comes up must come down.



In the US, shows that normally sell out in advance, such as the Oscars,

were still looking for advertisers at the eleventh hour. While in Europe

there has been no equivalent to demonstrate that times are tough across

all countries, media owners and agencies have had what diplomats would

describe as a challenging year.



Dotcoms have folded, along with magazines and digital TV channels.

Meanwhile, some media owners, especially TV stations, have pumped up

their prices well beyond inflation for the past few years. As a result,

TV advertising has certainly suffered, with the exception of big

ratings-pullers across Europe, such as Big Brother, Millionaire and The

Weakest Link.



Yet there's no mistaking that many bigger advertisers are taking a

serious look at more cost-effective means of targeting.



Interestingly, while many media agency heads answering the questionnaire

on the following pages cited economic problems as the biggest single

issue facing Europe's media industry, Alfonso Rodes from the Media

Planning Group in Spain approached the question from a different angle

by answering "microtargeting". Finding new ways to target smaller

numbers of people, either through the internet or specialist

publications, definitely seems to be a popular trend throughout

Europe.



Meanwhile, Juergen Blomenkamp of MediaCom in Germany believes that "the

vanishing power of mass media is the biggest issue we all have to

face ... in the end, we have to create touching moments for the

consumer".



One of the most positive aspects to come out of any kind of economic

downturn is the fact that many people in the media who convince

themselves that they've been thinking creatively all this time suddenly

become really creative. And isn't it strange that some of the most

successful launches of all time have been in times of economic

hardship?



Think back to Prisma Presse's launch of the business magazine Capital in

France in 1991. The launch attracted its fair share of cynicism back in

the bleak days of the early-90s, but it now boasts 2.7 million readers.

Similarly, FT Deutschland, the lovechild of Pearson and Gruner & Jahr

born in February 2000, has really found its feet this year.



And 2001 has been a good year for launches. The men's title Maxim landed

in Germany - a traditionally hard market to crack for men's

magazines.



Meanwhile, Italy saw a challenge to its tightly controlled television

duopoly in the form of LA7. And, in the UK, Glamour stole a march on the

more established glossies with its cute size. Its ability to fit in a

handbag instantly won the hearts of women all over the country.



Glamour underlines one of the most crucial aspects of media which,

suddenly, in times of economic downturn, becomes important again:

consumers seem to magically morph from being demographics back into

human beings.



Yet luckily, in terms of finding out more about pan-European media, the

research has never been stronger, although some would argue there's

still progress to be made. Both EMS and Europe 2001 - which came out

within a few months of each other earlier in the year - have shown that

most of the big pan-European TV networks are extending their reach and

are thus delivering bigger audiences to their advertisers.



The improvement in the research - particularly Europe 2001's inclusion

of daypart data - will serve only to improve their reputation with

agencies.



Which is strange as, bizarrely, it is often the things that improve

reputations - including research and advertising - that are the first to

be axed in times of downturn, being seen as an extravagance rather than

an investment in future growth.



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