Has selling media become easier or harder?

Has selling media become easier or harder?

Media has “officially” become too complicated.

That’s according to media agency OMD’s head of media planning Rhian Feather. She warned at a recent IPA event that not only does media face an ever-fragmenting landscape, it won’t stop getting more complicated in future.

These ongoing changes and complications were echoed in the recent Ofcom Media Nations report, which found broadcast TV’s weekly audience reach had suffered the steepest annual decline since records began, with its traditional “heartland” of older audiences daily viewing falling at the fastest rate ever.

So does this mean the business of selling media is getting more difficult?

The Media Leader‘s Fishbowl interview series, which asks media salesperson a list of questions drawn at random from our virtual fishbowl, often asks commercial chiefs this very question.

And the answers are telling. Several admitted it was getting harder, because of increasing complexity, while many added that this did mean greater opportunities for advertisers and a bigger role for marketers and technology working together (these are salespeople, after all).

Complexity and fragmentation are key pillars of “Media 3.0”, the overarching theme of our The Future of Media conference in October.

More complex and diverse

Phil Christer, Amazon Ads UK MD, highlighted that media has become “more complex and diverse”. However, he stressed that the fundamentals were still the same: being able to understand the client’s needs and do all the basics. He said that more channels and opportunities than ever have made selling, planning, and buying media “really exciting”.

This was echoed by David Black, senior director UK and managing director of technology, media, telecoms & apps at Google, and Matt Salmon, director of UK sales at Snap, who both said selling media has become harder because it is “more complex”. Both referenced the increasing scale of choice for both marketers and consumers as principal factors.

As a result of this, Black said that while there has always been a role for great creative, media planning, and media sales, increasingly technology has “such an important role” to simplify the complex, help consumers get the most relevant information, and help brands reach the right people.

Salmon said balancing brand and performance return on investment (ROI) was “super challenging” for clients, so there is “much more skill” needed to help them navigate this.

He added: “It’s all about the pace of change — when you think it can’t get quicker, it shifts again. At Snap, we’re at the sharp end of innovation, and I wouldn’t change it.”

Beginning of career to now

David Wilcox, commercial director at News UK, and Jem Djemal, global new business lead at VIOOH, emphasised that selling media was “definitely different” or “more faceted” since the beginning of their careers.

Djemal explained that the emphasis at the beginning of his career was understanding the channel he was selling and where his media owner employer fit into the picture. He explained that now it was “so much more than that” because of the emergence and rapid growth of adtech.

Emma Newman, chief revenue officer at PubMatic, also echoed the growth of adtech in making selling media, at least from the outside, become harder because of perceived fragmentation, consolidation, new formats, and platforms, concerns around transparency, and responsible journalism making the industry “difficult to understand and navigate”.

However, she highlighted work done to ensure delivering a responsible supply chain would make selling media “somewhat easier”.

Specific to formats and exposure to macroeconomic environment

Charlie Perrett, joint sales director at specialist OOH media owner KBH, said she thought it depended on the format whether selling media had become easier or harder.

For KBH, which runs sales for OOH formats in rail, cinema, and golf environments, it took a while to recover from Covid lockdowns where they were taken off plans, so the emphasis is now on reselling the format at OOH as a channel.

When answering this question, David Trencher, head of large customer sales, UK, EMEA & Australia at Reddit, said you “could not ignore” the current macroeconomic environment, which has been having an impact on brands, agencies, and consumers.

Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact ella.sagar@uk.adwanted.com.

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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