EMAP scraps third-party sales as shakeout begins

EMAP Online has axed its third-party advertising sales business. The decision means that rival sales house Real Media will pick up the bulk of the Websites sold by the defunct operation.

The sales house, headed by EMAP Online joint managing director Carol Dukes, had built a network of over 55 UK Websites, delivering a monthly inventory of 17 million page impressions to online advertisers.

Representation of EMAP’s own Websites is expected to remain in-house.

Roger Green, managing director of EMAP Online, says the hand-over of the sales business to Real Media will allow leading UK stock market information site ESI, and the Website operated by the Ministry of Sound, to review their sales representation.

“All other contracts are ‘assignable’,” says Green. EMAP’s withdrawal coincides with Dukes’ move to Carlton Communications to head a new media unit based on its broadcasting activities.

Other planned departures from the sales house staff of half a dozen will keep job cuts to a minimum, says Green.

The closure is in line with predictions made at the end of last year by a number of rivals, including Paul Simons at TSMSi, that a reduction in the number of operations offering online sales representation in the UK was inevitable. Green describes the losses made by the sales house venture as “acceptable”, and says the closure was a result of EMAP Online deciding to refocus on developing online content. “In the past nine months, our sales house business had been growing at a very attractive rate. But our longer term strategy was taking us away from that area of activity.”

Tim Brown, managing director of Real Media UK, adds: “This hand-over of the former EMAP partner sites is ideal for both parties. It allows EMAP Online to focus on commercial development of the company’s own Websites, and Real Media to expand its rapidly growing portfolio of UK Websites.”

Neil Morgan, chief executive of rival sales house New Media Marketing & Sales, says the remaining sales houses will continue to struggle to reach profitability in the short term.

“A shakeout was inevitable,” says Morgan. “The UK online ad cake is still small and it’s difficult to make money, particularly for companies which need to show some short-term results. We are taking the view that we will not make money for another 18 months. In the meantime, it’s a job of being very careful in the selection of clients and how you manage their expectations.”

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