Media: Double Standards - 'Media owners must see their assets as brands'

The heads of two media agencies (and judges of NatMag's 100 Award) explain why media owners must build a total brand experience.

PHILIPPA BROWN - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, OMNICOM MEDIA GROUP UK

- How important is it now for media owners to consider their assets as brands rather than platform-specific products?

I think it's vital that media owners think of their assets as brands. However, this isn't anything new. Media owners have been exploiting and leveraging their brands for many years; for example, the NME Awards, Good Housekeeping Institute and so on. The big issue for publishers is how to monetise their brands across non-traditional formats.

- Are media agencies structured to deal with media brands now, rather than siloed into television, print, digital and so on?

Yes, I think most media agencies are now structured to deal with media brands and have been for a few years.

As ever, the starting point is the target consumer, and whether connecting with a particular media brand is the right thing to do. If so, then the implementation of those deals is fairly straightforward. The only caveat is that they can be time consuming for all concerned and therefore it's important that the publisher is geared up to deliver media brand deals as efficiently as possible.

- You've both just judged the NatMag 100 Award. Do you think media agencies are pushing publishers hard enough to really innovate around their multi-platform opportunities?

The quality of entries for the NatMag 100 Award was fairly good, but I do think publishers need to continually educate and communicate to media agencies about the breadth of their offering outside the core magazine proposition. I think, without a doubt, media agencies could be pushing publishers harder and that's something that we need to encourage our teams to do more of.

- How important is it now for media agencies to build opportunities for consumer engagement into their campaigns?

I think it's very important to be thinking about consumer engagement and involvement in all the activity we develop for our clients. Research proves that the greater the consumer involvement, the more successful campaigns are, so it has to be a key objective.

- Given the enormous potential now to map response and prove return on investment, are media agencies and media owners working hard enough to give clients the depth of research and evidence of effectiveness that's possible?

Yes, I think this has been a huge area of development for all media agencies over the past few years. Clients are quite rightly demanding return-on-investment data and most media agencies are geared up to provide this information in abundance. As with everything, we need to continually evolve methodologies and work closely with publishers and media owners but this is now happening frequently, so I think we are in a good place on this.

- What are your favourite magazines and are you multi-platform users of those brands?

My favourite magazine is Grazia and, yes, I do occasionally use Grazia online.

- Will we all be reading our favourite mags online, via an e-reader or iPad within the next few years, or do you think the printed page has a lasting appeal?

I personally think that in the next few years, the printed page will still be around and we will still be buying magazines. However, without a doubt, we will increasingly be using other devices, such as the iPad.

NIGEL SHARROCKS - CHIEF EXECUTIVE, AEGIS MEDIA WESTERN EUROPE

- How important is it now for media owners to consider their assets as brands rather than platform-specific products?

Vital. I suspect most have already come to this conclusion. The real challenge, though, is how best to execute this across different platforms. It's not simply about shovelling the same content through various distribution channels - each channel requires a tailor-made approach, but clearly it all has to come together as a single coherent brand. I don't think anybody's really got this cracked yet.

- Are media agencies structured to deal with media brands now, rather than siloed into television, print, digital and so on?

Media agencies have already begun to address this issue but, for most, it is a good start of an evolving process. For an industry that's worked in a siloed structure for decades, this is quite a challenge. I do believe that in four or five years, the industry will look very different than it does today. By the way, I think that, on the whole, media agencies have made a better fist of it than the creative community.

- You've both just judged the NatMag 100 Award. Do you think media agencies are pushing publishers hard enough to really innovate around their multi-platform opportunities?

There are a lot of interesting solutions emerging but, again, I believe this is no more than a good start. Too often, agencies and media owners focus on extending the main brand rather than creating something completely new, born of the new media era. Paradigm shift has become such a cliche in our industry but there is a clue in that expression that fundamental change is required. People from outside our industry always imagine advertising and media types to be forward-thinking and innovative but, sadly, all too often the opposite is true.

- How important is it now for media agencies to build opportunities for consumer engagement into their campaigns?

As we've always known, interaction and dialogue are one of the most powerful ways for a brand to engage with its customers. The online possibilities make this so much easier to build into a communication plan these days. It would seem a massive missed opportunity if these weren't explored and exploited in every case. There are very few instances of this being done well. Most seem to ride on the back of the latest big thing.

- Given the enormous potential now to map response and prove return on investment, are media agencies and media owners working hard enough to give clients the depth of research and evidence of effectiveness that's possible?

One of the key benefits that the online/digital world is bringing to the more traditional world is exactly this kind of cost-per-action/return-on-investment thinking and benefit for advertisers. Again, this is one hell of a challenge, but I also believe that here lies much of the answer to lead our industry away from commoditisation. Ultimately, it's the age-old problem of understanding the relationship between brand and response.

- What are your favourite magazines and are you multi-platform users of those brands?

I'm a big consumer of all sectors of magazines and, yes, I do use their multi-platform content. But if I had to pick one, it would probably be Mojo.

- Will we all be reading our favourite mags online, via an e-reader or iPad within the next few years, or do you think the printed page has a lasting appeal?

I recently bought a book both in hard copy and in Kindle format for my iPad. There have been times when I have preferred to read the book rather than the iPad and vice versa - I don't think they're mutually exclusive.

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