Publishers create in-house agencies in battle for ad revenues

Time Out, Dennis Publishing and Future are developing their own internal creative hubs to produce better targeted and more engaging branded content.

Publishers are building internal teams to channel their skills as content creators and produce bespoke services for brands.

The move signals a shift away from publishers just developing advertorials or producing cover-wraps for advertisers as they look to exploit the increasing demand for branded content.

With digital ad revenues still several years away from rivalling print, those publishers that have already invested significantly in enhancing their online capability are now looking to move away from being seeing purely as vendors of ad space.

Media owners who have developed their own digital marketing services offering have used different technology and platforms to deliver their magazine brands. This has meant extra costs for advertisers to create ads across multiple devices and missed opportunities for publishers who do not have the resource or budget to provide the service.

To soften the blow, publishers are forming teams to harness their knowledge as content creators, while creating a bespoke offering.

Time Out is expanding its own cross platform sales and production unit in the coming months following a major overhaul last September when the magazine relaunched. The expansion drive aims to grow its digital marketing services to forge closer ties to advertisers and reduce its reliance on agencies for content.

Adam Harris, commercial creative director at Time Out told Marketing Week: “The department allows our commercial and editorially skilled team to utilise this expertise to deeper integrate a brand and communicate their commercial proposition. Ultimately this allows us to be more creative, flexible and responsive. And the fact it reduces the number of stakeholders in the process can’t be a bad thing.”

Meanwhile, Dennis has launched a standalone digital production agency Adnostic to capitalise on the opportunities. It will develop interactive advertising solutions for tablet apps published by Dennis as well as for newspapers and other magazine publishers. Content created by Adnostic is owned by clients, which allows for the distribution to other titles on a media schedule.

Head of of commercial partnerships at Adnostic, Jonathan Kitchen, says: “[Adnostic] means that partnerships can be formed in different ways than just the traditional buyer/seller relationship which means more opportunity to grow revenue and the market.”

Media agencies have welcomed the shift, despite the potential threat it poses to their revenues, claiming that the move will lead to a more collaborative and strategic approach between publishers and agencies and not strain relationships.

Mitchell Droppa, press manager at Carat UK, adds: “Where media owners and publishers can provide a in-house service and ultimately a one-stop-shop from planning and booking activity to content creation – albeit for a nominal fee – it will create some uniformity for clients campaigns and allow for more efficient use of our time from an agency perspective.”

Future, which is building an online team to produce content for its Apple-approved app-creation tool, says the “blurring” of the lines between publishers, agencies and advertisers can lead to “more integrated solution” but adds there needs to be more collaboration.

As content becomes a bigger part of the marketing mix, publishers will need to find ways to capture a larger slice of advertising budgets. If publishers can nurture their own digital expertise, this could be a promising path to new revenue.

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