The MAI and United News & Media merger has been largely forecast to have little or no effect on advertisers. At most, preferred supplier arrangements with large multinational brands might cut across the TV and newspaper ad sales operations.
However, unnoticed by the English media is the first tentative steps into cross-selling by ITV and a national newspaper.
In May, Scottish Television begins broadcasting a weekly fashion magazine programme called Get It On.
The programme has been sponsored by the Daily Record – the Daily Mirror’s Scottish sister title. The sponsorship is significant as a brand cross-promotion in that Mirror Group Newspapers is a 20 per cent stake holder in STV.
As part of the sponsorship, STV gives the Daily Record a version of Get It On’s editorial and the Daily Record runs it as a fashion feature page.
What makes it a first is that the Daily Record and STV are selling joint airtime and newspaper space for the Get It On page and around the Get It On TV programme. Fashion retailers are being offered rates for taking both print and airtime that are cheaper than booking both separately.
The rationale for the joint sell is the unique nature of the Scottish media market.
“The link between the Daily Record and STV is very strong in audience terms,” says Donald Emslie, commercial director of STV. “Around 90 per cent of the Record’s readers are located in the central belt of Scotland. Well over 90 per cent of its readers are our viewers and because we are slightly separate from the rest of the UK we can leverage value from crossing over from STV into print.”
Admittedly the Get It On series is a very small experiment. Emslie admits that no advertisers are yet signed up for both the newspaper and the TV programme.
However, the move to extend STV programme brands is not limited to the Daily Record. The company has now followed the BBC’s lead and is publishing consumer magazines modelled on its programmes.
The first is a home interest magazine modelled on a programme called The Home Show. This is intended not only to extend the programme brand, but to mop up the ad revenue – both on TV and in print – of Scottish suppliers who do not advertise in UK-wide home interest magazines because of the wastage involved in advertising to the English.
The Home Show magazine is being followed by a travel and lifestyle magazine called Scottish Passport, modelled on an eponymous TV programme.
At the moment STV and Mirror Group’s TV-to-print initiatives are very small scale, but they fit with a widely rumoured strategy of consolidating holdings in different media operations – TV, print and radio – in the self-contained market that is Scotland, Broadcasting Bill permitting.
And they are illustrative of the brand support and innovative advertising deals that will be offered by the media conglomerations of the future.