Carlton lures US dot-com adspend

TV company side-steps agencies to court predicted rush of well-resourced US dot-com advertisers.

Carlton is bypassing advertising agencies and traditional media buyers in a rush to snap up dot com ads for its TV and cinema operations.

The company’s media sales division predicts a 12-fold rise in dot-com TV ads this year, with TV taking the lion’s share of a projected &£300m adspend.

The Carlton Media Sales division has been offering all-day seminars for domestic and foreign- based Internet businesses seeking to build brand awareness in the UK.

Chief executive Martin Bowley, a frequent traveller to the US in recent months, believes the UK is “about to be hit by a wave of very well-resourced US dot-coms”.

Bowley says these new advertisers need to act much faster than traditional clients, but aren’t being catered for by the UK ad industry. He also criticises UK ad agencies and media buyers for “not seeing the opportunities to do new kinds of deals which go beyond buying spots [TV airtime].”

Carlton is increasingly using its online franchise to develop e-commerce and online branding opportunities for Net advertisers. The broadcaster, which has purchased stakes in dot-coms such as Ask Jeeves and Peoplebank, has even created a TV series – Movie Nights – based on the cinema Website, which sponsors the programme.

“I’ve had more direct client contact in the past 18 months than I’d had in the previous 18 years,” Bowley says.

He points out that such companies are “looking for much broader ad packages”, and that Carlton is trying to “work with them” to “demystify” the TV ad process. “Remember, a lot of these people are 24-year-olds with no previous marketing experience.

The rule book is being thrown out of the window. Speed is of the essence.”

Bowley’s comments come at a time when ad agencies are enjoying an unexpected surge in new business, with Websites eager to use offline media to build their brand. Most types of traditional advertising have benefited from this windfall, but agencies have generally refused to take on more permanent staff to deal with the extra work.

A report by Net research company Fletcher predicts a fall in poster, press, radio and – especially – direct mail ad revenue over the next four years. TV is likely to remain strong, although the medium is also expected to come under pressure from online ads, says Fletcher.

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