Convergence: Changing media buying and selling

By Elton Ollerhead 

“Convergence” might sound like a buzzword, but it is a real trend that is changing South Africa’s media and marketing landscape. Media owners and companies that sell marketing and media solutions need to look carefully at what this trend means for the way they sell inventory to the brands they work with.

Let’s firstly consider what we mean when we talk about convergence in the media environment. It is about the blending and blurring of various media and channels in brand and media owner strategies as well as in the lives of their audiences. It is a big shift in how media owners package content and in how consumers consume it.

Today’s consumer is no longer loyal to a single morning newspaper, nor is he or she a faithful viewer of the eight o’clock news. Instead, your audience accesses entertainment and information from a range of sources during the average day, often multitasking across channels while it does so.

For example, it’s not unusual for people to have Twitter open on a tablet or smartphone while they’re catching the finale of Breaking Bad, to listen to the midday news on the radio at work while browsing the Web, or to Google a company after seeing an ad in the paper. This multitasking behaviour is both a boon and a bane for marketers.

On the one hand, it means the audience’s attention is fragmented; on the other, it means that cross-channel campaigns can be a great way to reinforce a brand message across multiple touchpoints. Against this backdrop, media buyers and brands should be encouraged to partner with media owners who can help them address audiences across multiple media channels with a single campaign or concept.

Media owners and sales houses that want to do well in this landscape need to be able to offer brands integrated marketing solutions that span multiple channels. Such solutions provide brands and buyers with a single point for cross-channel buys, and allow for execution of campaigns across multiple channels in a uniform way.

Some of the benefits media owners and sales houses should be selling in converged buys include:

•      Simplicity – Brands and agencies need to deal with fewer media owners for a campaign, since one party takes responsibility for delivery, implementation, and reporting across multiple channels.

•      Synergy – A creative concept (competition, promotion, feature) can be designed to run across different media, leveraging the same message but packaging it in ways to suit each channel.

•      Reach and reinforcement – Converged campaigns give brands the ability follow a target audience across channels and mirror their behaviour. They can be on the radio in rush hour, online during work hours, TV at night, event activations on weekends and holidays.

Crafting a convergence strategy

For media owners or sales houses, the first goal of a convergence strategy should be to persuade advertisers to spend more of their budgets across the portfolio by offering incentives and educating them about the benefits. The advertiser needs to see the benefit by investing with a single media owner or media sales house – this will come by way of further reach, higher impact and lower costs.

It’s natural for media owners to fiercely protect the yield of individual media channels – radio, for example, commands a premium over print or digital – so multi-channel solutions should be priced to attribute fair value to each channel. But it’s important to look at yield across the portfolio – if you can get more revenue by offering more advertiser value across channels, it might make sense to do so.

From a selling perspective, one major challenge media owners and sales houses face is that the technical skills and knowledge required to sell across various media are very different. In addition, in organisations where different channels where sold by different sales teams, salespeople naturally try to defend their turf.

But the skill in understanding marketing and advertising objectives to craft solutions is similar across different media, so we believe that the challenges are not insurmountable. The goal should be to leverage all of your assets as a media owner or sales house to address client briefs with a solution-driven approach. This can give clients superior ROI while allowing media owners and sales houses to generate more revenue from their portfolios.

Elton Ollerhead is the managing director at Mediamark



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