Media: Double Standards - 'Bob the Builder has a competitive advantage'

Two magazine ad directors on the NRS, why Grazia is great and why BBC Magazines operates on a level playing-field.

MATT TEEMAN - GROUP ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, BBC MAGAZINES

- What titles do you sell across? Which is the most sought-after by media agencies/clients?

I work across all 40 titles in our portfolio and have responsibility for our central revenue streams such as Inserts and Brand Solutions. In terms of most sought-after, it would be Radio Times. It's our flagship title and sells more than one million copies every week.

- Do you think BBC Magazines has an unfair advantage over the competition? What, if anything, can it do to ward off such criticisms?

No, I don't. BBC Magazines has grown or created most of the markets in which it publishes. We created the food and children's magazine markets more than 15 years ago, trebled the size of the history market and doubled the size of both the gardening and classical music markets. It's ironic that some competitors who have subsequently entered these markets complain about our presence. One area of concern among competitors was in regard to the on-air trailing of magazines and we stopped this last December. We publish magazines that extend people's enjoyment of BBC programming and our profits are returned to the BBC for the benefit of the licence-fee-payer.

- Which one piece of your research has received the most interest from media agencies this year?

"Meet the Parents",BBC Magazines' first major piece of independent research into how adults read our pre-school titles, has been really well received so far. Reaching 4.5 million adults each month, these titles are no longer our best-kept secret.

- Do you think the National Readership Survey is building a better reputation? Do you ever use NRS figures in your sell?

It's still the major trading currency for every consumer publisher and remains a highly important, quality media planning tool for the print world in general. I'm aware that the NRS board is working hard to ensure it remains an accurate, flexible and relevant tool long into the future.

- How do you negotiate? Do you usually get your own way?

When I do it, I prefer to do it face to face. There's something about those deathly silences on the phone I can't stand. Whether I get my own way is there for debate, I guess. I quite often feel like I do but then that's probably exactly what the other person wants me to feel like.

- What do you think the media industry's general opinion of you as a sales person is?

Professional, proactive and deliver what I promise, I hope. Anyone?

- Who is your biggest rival?

Professionally, it's anyone competing for a slice of the revenue. Personally, it's soap operas! Although Sky+ has diluted that rivalry somewhat, it's still there when I get home. With the return of Phil and Grant, I'm bracing myself for a lonely autumn.

- What do you think is the best magazine launch of the year?

Of the major ones, Grazia, hands down. I think it's a great magazine and has brought something new and exciting to the women's market.

- What's your biggest worry?

That the decisions I make are the right ones.

ST.JOHN BETTERIDGE - GROUP ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, MEN'S LIFESTYLE DIVISION, DENNIS PUBLISHING

- What titles do you sell across? Which is the most sought-after by media agencies/clients?

Maxim, Men's Fitness, Viz, Bizarre and Fortean Times.All of the titles are highly sought-after by their own core categories but in terms of the market profile which attracts the widest spectrum of ad categories, it is Maxim.

- Do you think BBC Magazines has an unfair advantage over the competition? What, if anything, can it do to ward off such criticisms?

Looking at the entire BBC Magazines portfolio, no. It used to have an advantage, but not any more, as most magazines have multiplatform brand extensions, which raise awareness and allow readers to access the brand on different levels. Plus the increase in satellite channels means that customers have much greater choice than just viewing terrestrial programming. The only titles in the BBC portfolio which you could say have an unfair advantage are Top Gear, Radio Times, Bob the Builder, Teletubbies and Tweenies. Radio Times occupies a unique position of bridging the gap between magazines and supplements, and benefits from the Beeb in its entirety.

- Which one piece of your research has received the most interest from media agencies this year?

Agencies and clients have really bought into the Maxim Focus Group research we have done with our bright blokes and lads. This has been presented in the Bruce Sandell (group publishing director) and Greg Gutfeld (editor) roadshow. This research justifies Greg's change in editorial approach. It proves that young male readers are a difficult group to target, in terms of their behaviour, attitude and the way they use and view media.

- Do you think the National Readership Survey is building a better reputation? Do you ever use NRS figures in your sell?

The NRS has a big challenge ahead to improve its accuracy and validity. It does live in the shadow of the Audit Bureau of Circulations but they are proposing to modernise it and to build a better reputation. I use the NRS as a sales tool to show size of audience and demographic breakdown. It's never the sole negotiation tool, more ammunition to back up the proposal.

- How do you negotiate? Do you usually get your own way?

I try to see the bigger picture with a view to creating long-term partnerships that are mutually beneficial. So no, I don't get my own way, particularly as market conditions are tough at the moment.

- What do you think the media industry's general opinion of you as a sales person is?

Hopefully, people view me as someone who is good at creating and managing relationships, while providing consistently good customer service. Oh, and somebody who enjoys lunch and likes a laugh.

- Who is your biggest rival?

IPC in terms of the size of its Men's Lifestyle portfolio - it has got four titles and we've got five. Similarly, Maxim and Loaded do similar numbers, Men's Fitness and Uncut have similar audience demographics, Viz sells more than the NME but less than Nuts, and Fortean Times is completely unique.

- What do you think is the best magazine launch of the year?

Grazia, without a doubt. You've got to admire Emap with this launch, which has reinvigorated the women's sector and set the pace for other women's publishers.

- What's your biggest worry?

Hair loss - it's going to happen, just don't know when.