It makes good business, this showbusiness

The research on marketers’ views of advertiser-funded programming (AFP) (MW last week) was very revealing. It confirmed their widespread belief in the effect personal video recorders (Sky+, TiVo) will have on television consumption habits, and that TV programming aligned with their own brand would have unrivalled marketing value. It also revealed their willingness to commit substantial funds to do so.

The survey did, however, show that marketers are confused as to where to turn to get expert advice on strategy, ideas and execution. Some of them default to their advertising agencies, some to their media and PR agencies, while others would try to deal directly with either production companies or broadcasters.

This tends to happen with any new sector. Existing agencies try to claim it as another “string to their bow” – and some clients try to go it alone – until the sector becomes sufficiently interesting and complex to justify specialist advisers.

It says something about the speed of growth of the new “brand content” sector that these advisers already exist: specialist agencies which have invested in bringing the necessary expertise together to guarantee really innovative, effective approaches and solutions to this new marketing channel.

In this case, agencies which understand that TV programme (or other content) development has to be a more collaborative process than any other marketing discipline. Agencies which understand and can navigate both the TV production and broadcast communities – and agencies which have developed new strategic and creative frameworks for marketers that make developing AFP comprehensible, enjoyable and valuable.

Mike Falconer

Managing director


London W1


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