Media: Double Standards - The innovation at the quality end of the market

As The Telegraph and The Guardian battle it out for readers, two sales directors explain how new products and launches are essential to reinforce their brands.

JIM FREEMAN - GROUP TRADING DIRECTOR, TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP

- How would you describe the newspaper market right now?

Exciting, challenging and, at times, frustrating. Far from being the market in trouble as some predicted, nurturing our loyal readers and customers, while adding new readers, listeners and viewers, has meant a buoyant time over the past year. Right now we are launching new products and commercial revenues are good.

- How challenging has it been to launch on to new platforms and monetise this?

It hasn't been that difficult for us, because we are structured to deliver via our unique "hub and spoke". We also have an integrated approach across editorial and commercial, enabling our multimedia practitioners to deliver products that can be monetised - Telegraph TV is flying.

- Which of your products, launches etc has most excited advertisers recently?

The launch of ST Fashion last year had an incredible response from advertisers, and off the back of this, we have extended the portfolio into ST Men this year. Telegraph TV is finding a new market for us, with lots of interest from traditional TV advertisers, and our recent launch of a new Cruise Channel is already generating huge interest.

- Which client categories are showing the most growth for you?

Over the past 12 months, retail, travel and finance are all performing well. I think TMG is doing particularly well in these areas as our readers are deemed to be more credit-crunch resistant. Over the past few years, fashion, beauty and luxury have also shown amazing growth.

- How would you describe your culture and approach, and how does this distinguish your team in the marketplace?

We are a commercially focused company that believes in doing things at pace. We see agencies as our partners - I am not sure all media owners do. Team culture is constantly worked on as our mantra is "culture drives strategy".

- What's the most innovative package you've put together for an advertiser?

Last year, we launched our tailored multimedia Audience Packages to aid ease of purchase across our relevant platforms, and from a bespoke solution point of view, our Create team worked on more than 200 innovative packages last year, ranging from £1 million solus deals through to a single advertorial. All solutions are tailored to each client's required business objectives, so picking one to highlight is impossible, but solutions ranged from getting readers to design a garden based on the footprint of a small car through to a "parent friendly" kite mark.

- What's the appeal to readers of the print versions of your titles when they can get so much free online?

It's difficult to generalise about our readers, but I suspect the majority enjoy their time with us for a variety of reasons. They like the quality, portability, editing and easy reading. It took newspapers a while to realise they were a content provider, rather than just a printed newspaper. Our aim is to give our customers the content they want in a format that suits them as individuals, at a price they will pay. The truth is, we have more people interacting with the Telegraph brand now on a platform of their choice, and this number keeps growing every week.

- How has your company changed for the better in recent years?

There has been a revolution at the Telegraph Group, with the move from Canary Wharf to Victoria and going from Newspaper to Media Group - all in 18 months. The only way to understand it is to come and see it.

CHRIS PELEKANOU - SALES DIRECTOR, GUARDIAN NEWS AND MEDIA

- How would you describe the newspaper market right now?

The national newspaper market is always competitive, but it's in good shape, especially at the quality end, which is up 10.2 per cent year on year in volumes. GNM is up 11.7 per cent. That shouldn't come as a surprise with all the fantastic innovation that has gone on, both in terms of our print titles and online.

- How challenging has it been to launch on to new platforms and monetise this?

The breadth of opportunities makes it very challenging, but we are constantly seeking to invest and innovate across the business. Ultimately, we must never lose sight of what our audiences are doing now and what they will be doing in the future; this will ensure we deliver what they want when they want it.

- Which of your products, launches etc has most excited advertisers recently?

Where to start? The Berliner Guardian is a thing of rare beauty. The Observer Monthly magazines have been incredible platforms for collaborative work with clients and the rebuild of guardian.co.uk demonstrates great design and functionality. These have enabled clients to connect with our audiences in more innovative ways.

- Which client categories are showing the most growth for you?

Fashion and beauty, finance and motors are all well up on last year.

- How would you describe your culture and approach, and how does this distinguish your team in the marketplace?

This may sound like cliche, but it's true to say that we have a great deal of talent here. We are totally committed to what The Guardian stands for and we have an open and transparent culture that constantly challenges itself to be more innovative, both in terms of structure and what we produce for our clients.

- What's the most innovative package you've put together for an advertiser?

I'm tempted to say the next one! It's difficult to identify just one, but if I have to I'll go for the Intel project, which was based around a virtual music festival in Second Life. We streamed in live bands including the Pet Shop Boys and Groove Armada. Nearly 14,000 people attended making it the biggest festival in Second Life. There was also lots of offline activity to build momentum and create a buzz around the concert.

- What's the appeal to readers of the print versions of your titles when they can get so much free online?

We deliver great content in the way our audience wants, when it wants. Papers are still a fantastic way to get information and entertainment across and people still have a huge brand affinity with them. It's also very difficult, even in this incredibly hi-tech environment, to replicate the convenience or indulgence that a paper can provide, especially at the weekends.

- How has your company changed for the better in recent years?

Innovation is a constant here, but our ambition is even bigger and far-reaching. We seek to be the world's leading liberal voice and we are brave enough to experiment without being scared of failure and confident enough to invest properly for the future.