Bad Economy Could
Be Good For Big Media (And Marketers)
By Debbie Reichig, senior VP of
market development, NBC Universal
The trick in a down economy is to enable your
company to not only survive the bad times but
position itself to thrive when better times arrive.
Instead of hand-wringing and cost-cutting to the
bone, savvy marketers and media execs should look
for ways to turn the situation around, seeking out
opportunities to enhance the way they do business.
The best strategy is not to wait out the economic
downturn and hope for a return to business as usual.
Progressive companies should take this time to
evolve their organizations to run more efficiently.
They will be optimally positioned for the inevitable
Due to the recession, there is increased pressure to
cut costs while maintaining, if not growing,
revenues. Therefore, advertisers, agencies and media
companies want to perform more efficiently and
effectively, with fewer resources. Such increased
pressure does not usually encourage investment in
change and experimentation.
Most survival instincts lead us to seek safe harbor
and wait for the storm to pass. However, companies
that have the will to explore new strategies to
achieve their goals should be better-positioned
competitively in the long-term. There are actions
that marketers, agencies and media can take now to
ensure stability and prepare for success in future.
Not surprisingly, these actions should have been
taken before the global economic collapse. Before
the downturn, advertisers, agencies and media were
on a solid course for positive change. But as we all
know, evolution in the media/advertising business
tends to be slow. Those companies that maintain
their course of change, by doing little more than
continuing the path of evolution they were already
on, will be well-positioned now and into the future.
We are all required to do more with less; the more
progressive among us that move faster to achieve
immediate efficiencies and economies. Trends
advertisers and agencies should pursue include:
1. Consolidating television and online buying. This
enables advertisers to surround their target
consumers with consistent messaging without the
friction that results from competition between
television and online agencies. It eases the
coordination and implementation of cross-platform
2. Working with fewer, bigger partners. The current
average of 45 considered media brands is
overwhelming, and taxes manpower
resources--especially after downsizing--but it's
unnecessary to reach a target audience with scale.
3. Advertisers and agencies working more closely
with media. Openness and the sharing of marketing
objectives will encourage creativity and facilitate
custom solutions to better address the needs of
marketers. It also permits the formations of true
partnerships and long-term coordination between
media companies and marketers.
4. Include new technologies, emerging media and
advanced advertising in the media mix. Media
companies have arsenals of new and exciting ways to
message consumers. In hard times, they may be more
amenable to adding them to a buy at bargain rates.
Although these technologies are unproven to varying
degrees, now is the time for marketers and
advertisers to take advantage of these new tools.
When the leverage swings back to the sellers,
advertisers have a better idea of the value of these
5. Merge creative agencies and media buying.
Although it may be ideal for messages to follow the
consumer across media and platforms, research shows
that it may not be effective for the ad format to
travel. Creative needs to be customized to fit the
environment, medium and platform for it to be
effective. In order to accomplish this, creatives,
planners and buyers need to be coordinated, not
6. Greater demand for accountability and ROI
metrics. It is always important to require media
companies to demonstrate effectiveness, but it's
essential under financial strain. Effectiveness
research should be negotiated into major
cross-platform media buys.
In turn, media companies should develop services
that are complementary to ones advertisers and
agencies increasingly need. They, too, should follow
the evolutionary path they were on to reap the
competitive benefits when the economy returns:
1. A single point of contact. This is becoming an
increasingly important asset for media companies
with multiple properties. It ensures optimal use of
assets and greater coordination for both the buyer
and seller. Currently, due to the increased
limitations on resources, this service is even more
2. Custom, consistent marketing across brands and
consumer touch points. Media companies need to
figure out how their various assets can work
together to deliver an ad campaign across properties
and platforms consistently. This way, the message is
reinforced, and the marketers get more impact for
3. Provide a one-stop shop. Produce quality content
that reaches the target consumer with scale. Many
media companies are beginning to produce custom
content that is designed specifically for each
screen and can include integrated ad messages. Media
companies should also determine which content best
reaches which target and which ad formats are most
4. Get ad sales reps versed in marketing to work as
consultative partners. As the competition for fewer
dollars grows and there is greater demand for
accountability, media companies should educate their
sales reps in marketing, research and the client's
A financial crisis can be particularly hard on the
faint of heart or risk-averse. The effects of
recession may be most strongly felt among the
marketers, agencies and media companies that resist
necessary change and transformation. The winners
will be the marketers and the media that continue,
or accelerate efficiencies and follow a business
model that will lead to competitive advantages in
good economic times and bad.
---Source: MediaDailyNews Feb 5, 2009
(www.mediapost.com). Debbie Reichig is a longtime
media industry research and marketing executive.
Reach her at Debbie.Reichig@nbcuni.com.
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