Working in traditional media sales may soon feel like walking
through a shooting range while wearing a target.
The volley of threats is coming thick and fast: the proliferation of new
media and fragmentation of the old, changing consumer lifestyles and
patterns of media usage, not to mention the pressures on clients both to
control costs and stand out in increasingly crowded markets.
Between 1988 and 1997 the number of magazine titles grew by 19 per cent,
radio stations by 213 per cent and television stations by 1,525 per
cent, while the web sprouted 140 billion pages, according to The Henley
Yet it predicts a mere pounds 8 increase in spend on media per person
per year in 1999, and only six minutes a week extra attention.
No wonder high-profile clients such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and
Boots are taking money away from traditional media in favour of the
internet, direct marketing and events (see panel).
’Money is moving very fast out of conventional advertising - where there
is huge wastage - to much more personal media,’ says David Miller,
partner at customer communications agency Miller Bainbridge. ’I don’t
think we need to worry about the total demise of traditional media but
new techniques are constantly evolving to talk to the customer base in a
way that is much more discreet, powerful and private.’
Ask media owners what the biggest threats are to their ad business and
all are eager to claim that their platform continues to provide the best
Newspaper groups pour scorn on the notion that people are suddenly going
to ditch that breakfast or commuter reading habit, simply because
there’s now an alternative. Instead, they point to spin-off online
brands, which they say will add new audiences and provide extra
opportunities to reach existing readers.
’We are quite aware that there are threats,’ concedes Hugo Drayton,
managing director of Hollinger Telegraph New Media. ’Classified is an
area where we need to protect existing off-line franchises and build
very strong online ones.’
When it comes to display advertising, Danny Meadows-Klue, publisher of
the Electronic Telegraph, believes there will be a new split. ’Print
will deliver very large audiences - at a time when TV fragmentation is
making it harder to reach them - for brand development and enhancement
The internet will be the forum for new prices and products.’
The TV owners are also convinced that they will not suffer. According to
Julian Dobinson, head of planning and sales research at Granada Media,
fragmentation is not a dirty word. The fact that Coronation Street could
end up being watched across 20 channels will benefit both the niche
marketer who wants to target a specific audience and the mass marketer
who can book the same ad into every break.
Dobinson says broadcasters should embrace new media. ’Digital will be
able to deliver information and sell directly off the screen. The latter
will be additional business rather than cutting into the old.’
David Sanderson, sales director of Carlton Digital Sales, agrees. ’The
internet is fantastic but the vast majority of the population are not
going to spend time surfing the web on their PC. They will be
interacting via their TV screen.’
The first surveys on audience take-up of digital are just about to be
carried out. Figures for internet penetration and ad revenue - up 139
per cent to pounds 19.4 million in 1998 (Internet Advertising Bureau/
PricewaterhouseCoopers) - are already available. And this is where the
big battle will be, in providing detailed proof of the effectiveness of
each medium. There are already concerns about the declining rate of
click-through on banner advertising.
Anna Barez is sales director of Lycos, one of the biggest beneficiaries
of internet ad revenue. She claims the search engine achieves a very
high click-through with new technologies that are coming on line all the
time - video banners, for example, or links to call centres. ’You can
target people quite well, to the level of those that are interested in
monitors for big presentations, and the wastage is minimal.’ She says
that Lycos is no threat to traditional publishers, but since the
internet is part of the mix for 70 per cent of clients, the search
engine must have pinched the revenue from somewhere.
Other rivals are bidding to prove their credentials too, including
New technology will allow billboards to be changed several times a day,
sites are constantly being improved and research is becoming more
Francis Goodwin, managing director of Maiden Outdoor, cites the number
of new e-businesses running poster campaigns as proof of the medium’s
potential. ’It has the potential to cannibalise other media,’ he
Ambient media, once considered the flaky end of advertising, is growing
- faster, in fact, than the rest of outdoor. Philip Vecht is managing
director of Admedia, which sells washroom posters in 160 shopping
centres and 125 motorway service stations. In total, he has control of
80 million-plus monthly impacts of up to 105 seconds’ duration for
women. He’s virtually at the point of sale and has some blue-chip client
names - including Nivea, Pfizer and Unilever.
’Within the last year we’ve generated millions of pounds from budgets
that wouldn’t have been allocated to washrooms because they didn’t
exist,’ Vecht says. ’I’ve had three calls this week from people that
have taken money either out of radio or press and given it to us.’
It may seem ridiculous to suggest ambient as a threat to TV and press,
but as it chips away at traditional budgets the lost revenue could run
Stunts are another boom area as clients desperately look for ways to
stand out from the crowd. Ex-head of sales at Flextech TV, Anna Carloss,
now runs Cunning Stunts, her own company arranging stunts and scams for
increasingly high-profile clients, including FHM, Qantas and Maryland
She says: ’We feel communication can go beyond more traditional routes
and that ads can be tailored to a brand in a style that sets it above
The famous naked Gail Porter projection on the side of the Houses of
Parliament - to promote FHM - garnered picture stories on the front page
of the Daily Sport, page two of The Sun, page three of The Mirror, and
in The Express and Daily Star. The Big Breakfast covered it, and so did
Serious mileage for a pounds 10,000 spend.
Another Cunning Stunts special was adding a twist to the Qantas
’dreamtime’ Business Class campaign in the form of a Damien Hirst-style
installation in Trafalgar Square - a big perspex box containing two
Qantas airline seats with a couple of business types asleep in them. For
the photocall, which pulled in 15 snappers and journalists, Cunning
Stunts got Johnny Vaughn to grab a kip there after his early morning
start on The Big Breakfast.
’I don’t think stunts are a fad,’ says Carloss. ’People are intrigued by
this new area.’
PR is vital if you’re going to get the best out of stunts. And while
Adrian Wheeler, chief executive of GCI, denies that public relations is
encroaching on traditional advertising, he confirms that it is growing
in stature and becoming a larger ingredient in the marketing mix.
Even flyposters are benefiting. Maryanne McNamara, head of new business
development at Diabolical Liberties, is reticent about naming clients
since many of them are wary of being associated with flyposting, but she
says this supposedly shady medium is attracting a number of blue-chip
clients. And the costs are lower than a traditional national
Every blow could weaken traditional media owners and soften them up for
the next one. But not everybody agrees. Colin Gottlieb, managing partner
of Manning Gottlieb Media, is a loyalist. ’If I was a shareholder in
News International, I wouldn’t necessarily be thinking ’shit, I’ve got
to sell in 12 months’.’
Others prefer to guard against complacency. The Electronic Telegraph’s
Meadows-Klue comments: ’The warning for all of us is that if we don’t
take advantage of all the new opportunities out there, and move
carefully, clever start-ups will march into that space, build brands,
and take revenues that we may naively have thought would be ours.’
THE CLIENT’S VIEW
In the past 12 months the world’s two biggest spenders have suggested
that mass advertising has had its day as the core of their marketing
Procter & Gamble wants to develop one-to-one relationships with
The company has added direct marketing agency Evans Hunt Scott to its
roster, and last year it created the role of European head of
interactive marketing, signalling its interest in the internet and
digital TV. Unilever is also looking to divert some of its mammoth spend
into direct marketing, posters, events and new media.
While both companies are legendary for their devotion to mainstream TV
advertising, it is hard to see how print budgets could escape unaffected
in the move towards tighter targeting and interactivity.
When it comes to mainstream media, Boots is also walking. Its shift away
from external print, TV and radio began some time ago.
’Traditional forms of advertising are becoming less effective,’ says
Francis Thomas, group media relations manager at the Boots Company. ’So
why not take control of the channels of communication? Retailers have
traditionally brought other services in-house and now we are integrating
ourselves into media ownership.’
The Boots-owned Health & Beauty is the fourth highest circulation
magazine in the UK. The Advantage Card gives the company control over
direct mail, and marketing budgets have not gone up to fund it. Instead,
product managers have a choice between spending on advertising or giving
away extra points.
And which would you choose when the latter is claimed to have boosted
margins last year by 0.1 per cent?
Boots’ latest move into media ownership came with the launch in October
of a women’s website, handbag.com. The joint venture with Hollinger
Telegraph New Media provides news, information and online shopping and
Boots is sponsoring the health and beauty channel.
E-commerce is the prime motivator but the site will also pull in revenue
from sponsorship and advertising.