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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.