Media sales opens up to some creative thinking

For some time, media buying and selling has been driven by one issue – price. But a change of focus is becoming apparent as owners and buyers realise the importance of creative editorial, says Mike Wood. Mike Wood is media director at J Walter

Why is it that media negotiations are still characterised by ritualistic flesh-tearing? And why, through a decade of new media technologies and editorial innovation, does media buying and selling remain pretty much the same as it always has been?

The answer is rooted in the elevation of price as the pre-eminent feature of negotiation.

It is not surprising that price is the focus.

For the past ten years consolidation of client media spends has sustained the momentum to drive down costs. The market responded. Media buying became more focused, auditing companies grew and price became more accountable.

In markets where media is essentially a commodity this may not matter too much.

If moving the price is the only way to extract value from the negotiation then inevitably it will become a one-issue conversation. In many ways it is precisely this gladiatorial battle that drives realism and fairness into the eventual settlement. As such, it remains unchanged because it is a successful and efficient process for buyer and seller alike.

Media owners don’t always see it this way.

They often lament that buyers fixate on price, and that their own noble efforts to broaden the discussion are forever impaled on the buyer’s rate obsession.

This does overstate the truth, but it is an understandable view. Buyers tend to conceal the full breadth of considerations lest the information be used against them in the negotiation.

It is not so much the mechanics of negotiation that are overdue for change as the constipating relationships which surround them.

But change is in the air. Media owners are being less purist about how commerce can be woven into the editorial product. And media buyers and sellers are finding a zeal for innovation.

Their creativity can be seen in new outdoor formats, in collaborative ventures with magazines and newspapers and in promotional tie-ups with radio stations.

By comparison, television companies lag behind, their commercial instincts heavily strait-jacketed by the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Act. However, the ITC is loosening the reins and TV companies, particularly the satellite channels, are actively developing sponsorship, merchandising partnerships and advertorials.

This can only gain pace. In April of next year, BSkyB launches the first of 200 new digital channels to add to the 60 or so we receive already.

This will accentuate the low audience/low advertising revenue problem which many satellite channels face.

Seeking income outside spot advertising will be an imperative factor. New advertising formats will include channels offering interactivity and 15-minute advertorial slots. The media has the potential to become much more than an advertising hoarding in a newspaper, on the street or in a TV programme: it will become a distribution channel, a venture partner and an electronic shop window which the customer can browse.

If this happens, media buying and selling will become a much more creative process, one with a key role in shaping advertising in the future.

Latest from Marketing Week

Get ready for Cannes 2018: Hot topics and what to see

Cannes Lions

With the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity kicking off in three days, here’s your run down of all the hot topics up for discussion at the first festival since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Sir Martin Sorrell resigned from WPP and the #MeToo movement was born.

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here