Private Eye’s recent switch of sales representation agency (Media
Business, 25 April) begs the question: why not just do it inhouse?
Unsurprisingly, the sales agencies themselves point to a host of reasons
why outsourcing makes sense for many titles.
Tom Glenister, group account manager at Madison Bell, the company that
lost Private Eye to the Communications Team, says sales agencies can be
useful for publications that need a team fast.
’If you are Emap or IPC, you’ve got the people to move around,’ he
’But if you are a small or medium-sized publisher and want to launch
now, you don’t have enough staff to move quickly.’
He cites the example of Wipe, a parenting magazine that came to the
agency in November with a December launch date. ’We have trained sales
people - all they need is a media pack and they’re away,’ he says.
Glenister also says his agency is cost-effective as it works on a
commission basis and does not charge retainers - although this is not
necessarily the case with others.
Another strength claimed by the representation agencies is the ability
to sell independent publications as part of a portfolio.
Madison Bell has been able to cross-sell the RSPCA children’s
publication Animal Action to advertisers who have been attracted by the
agency’s DC Thomson titles, which include The Beano and The Dandy.
Christine Elder, production manager for Animal Action, swears by the
agency. ’It’s perfect for us - it’s the most cost-effective solution,’
she says. ’Unless things alter tremendously, I don’t think we will
I think we’ll probably continue to outsource because children’s
advertising is a tough market and I don’t think anyone inhouse could
make a go of it.’
Elsewhere, however, there are mixed feelings about using sales
Feng Shui for Modern Living publisher Stephen Skinner, who has used
various agencies, says: ’One was very good at selling ads but very bad
at passing on the money. Another promised a great deal and delivered
He has just brought ad sales for Feng Shui inhouse after outsourcing
them for six months - and says the results achieved by a ’scratch team’
are 25 per cent better than the best month attained through the
’Collection arrangements have to be sorted out,’ he concludes. ’Some
sales representation agencies can sell better than an inhouse team - but
our current view is that inhouse is better.’
On balance, the argument seems to be one of horses for courses. Many
publishers, particularly independent ones, might have recourse for a
sales representation agency at some stage.
And some, such as DC Thomson, even use a combination of inhouse and
outsourced teams. Private Eye used sell inhouse before signing up
Madison Bell in 1998.
The fact that the title has opted to keep outsourcing its sales through
the Communications Team seems to indicate that, whatever their merits,
representation agencies will be around for some time