Media agencies which integrate strategic planning with their buying are by now old hat – everybody’s doing it. But media owners too are starting to realise that there is more to media than just selling space.
EMAP Elan is about to offer a service which has been in development for about a year. Across its youth titles it will replicate a mini media agency.
From next year each client will have a dedicated point of contact who will put together deals across any or all of the seven titles and also act as a long-term strategic adviser, pulling together teams from the promotions, marketing, advertising and editorial areas to offer marketing solutions.
Resources can also be drawn from EMAP’s youth radio and television interests – EMAP on Air’s Kiss 100 FM, Kiss TV, The Box TV and regional stations such as Metro in Newcastle and Key in Manchester.
Each account handler will be a specialist in one of Elan’s five core client areas – music, fashion, premium beauty products, toiletries, and snacks and confectionery.
EMAP Elan commercial director Victoria Scott says: “Clients are no longer getting full value for money from a page. What they now want is a relationship with publish-ers and not just advertising space.
The youth division of Elan is particularly well positioned to do this as it has 61 per cent of the youth market after adding More! and Smash Hits to its portfolio in July from EMAP Metro.
The seven titles – Minx, More!, Bliss, J-17, Looks, Smash Hits and Big! – carry 15m worth of business a year. The biggest clients are Boots, Coty and Tambrands.
Scott takes EMAP’s recent work for Coca-Cola as an example of what can be done. These used a variety of heat-sensitive pages, holograms, a debit-style loyalty card, sales promotion and sampling to increase consumption of the drink by teenage girls.
In June, rival magazine publisher IPC launched its Southbank Solutions operation, with a similar objective to that of EMAP. Scott says: “The difference is that South bank Solutions is a creative think tank which sits outside the market. Our key account managers are people working on the magazines every day.”
BBC Worldwide has also recognised the longer term implications of looking at its brands rather than individual products. Under a new structure, magazine publishing directors take charge of developments of brands and properties in a clutch of interest areas – such as comedy, travel, sport and history – in formats including magazine and book publishing, video, exhibitions and even TV.
BBC Worldwide managing director Peter Phippen says the structure will “leverage the power of our brands across a range of formats in a more cohesive and strategic way”.
Similarly, The Telegraph Group has a division dedicated to developing a strategic relationship with the client. The commercial division, headed by Paul Hayes, has put together deals such as a sponsorship package for Microsoft.
Scott insists that although EMAP’s service team is being aimed at the client rather than the media planner, agencies will be gaining rather than losing out. “In effect we will be doing half the account job for them. But we will make sure that whenever we pull a team of people together the media agency and the creative agency will be represented,” she claims.
CIA Medianetwork associate director Jackie Almeida says: “This is a very positive development. EMAP can do it because it has such strong brands. It practically owns the youth market.”
Almeida argues that if there is the correct level of trust between the client and the media agency then the agency should have no reason to feel threatened.
MediaVest’s director of press buying Tim Armes says: “One potential problem with cross-title selling is that individual sales people and editors feel they will lose control. But in an increasingly cluttered market where magazines are coming from left, right and centre, you need to keep up the profile of the group of titles.”
Scott denies that intimate knowledge of the long-term marketing plans of one brand will create a potential conflict when the account director talks to another client in the same core client area.
She says: “We will be absolutely professional in this arrangement and there is no way that any competitive information will be divulged to another client. Besides it is rare that exactly the same solution is needed by any two clients.”
Just how far the idea of media owners acting as consultants can go remains to be seen. Magazines are just one part of the media mix – but as media owners buy into more areas of media, clients could feasibly increase the number of direct deals that they enter into.
If a clued-up marketing director can buy a television, radio and magazine package from just one source which specifically targets one segment of the market – such as youth – without having to pay agency fees, then the likes of MediaVest and CIA Medianetwork might have reason to start worrying.