When Ad Agencies Own The Media
In the past, I’ve heard it said that certain places are lacking in places to advertise. Typically, this means that there aren’t enough places to place print ads. Last week, I was in a Twitter conversation with a VP of a large marketing agency in the US who commented that the declining print industry is hurting his business. If he can’t place ads, he can’t bill for ads. Digital alternatives, he said, are not as effective for his customers. This problem will get worse.
Businesses face increasing competition and need to be able to get the word out about the products and services that they offer. This is what we do as marketers.
I think that the next logical step for many agencies is taking control of the situation and launching their own media outlets.
Agencies already have the capability to produce newspapers, magazines, and books. Some of them already create newsletters or industry/association publications for their clients. At least two local agencies have billboards on the front of their businesses – they use them to promote their own initiatives. So, is launching a local or regional publication that much of a stretch? One could argue that agencies are in the business of creating ads, not editorial content. But one very successful local magazine group has built a small empire of 9 magazines that are populated almost entirely with advertorials.
On a much bigger scale, a company like The Omnicom Group could take control of Time, People, or other major publications. Offering exclusive ad placement to their clients would provide a competitive advantage. If Publicis owned Motor Trend or Car & Driver, how long would it be before the Big 3 auto manufacturers did agency reviews?
I was discussing this with a local agency CEO, and his main concern was one of ethics. Would salespeople begin to push ads in an agency owned publication, even if it wasn’t the best fit for their clients? His concern is valid, but I could also counter that if the publication was good, and people read it, that there was no reason the publication couldn’t be an effective tool for his clients.
I think this will be a growing trend in the future. And I think it would be a good thing.