A few years ago, there was just one independent media sales company competing in the MOST Awards. In 2017, there were 17 listed in the survey, with six finalists. Who knows what the picture will look like in 2018… We ask, why has their role expanded so much?
It’s no secret that selling advertising not just in a tough economy, but also in a competitive and challenging sector, is not for sissies.
With the huge number of advertising formats out there, coupled with ongoing developments in the digital sphere, it’s no wonder media owners want to cover all their bases, and that sometimes means bringing in the specialists.
Managing director of MMAP, and winner (again!) of the Media Sales Consultants category at the MOST Awards in 2017, Michele Munro (left), operates in the out of home arena.
“The market place is very tough at present, so the more sales avenues the media owners can open for themselves, the bigger the chances are of them selling their sites,” says Munro.
Munro reckons the out of home space has many players, but some don’t have the experience or the relationships to really make their sites work for them. Many are SMMEs who “have the council relationships, have put the steel in the ground and then are not sure how to go about selling their sites”, she says.
“Resources are few and far between and they rely on the likes of the media sales consultant to assist them in selling space on their billboards. Relationships are also important and they might not have the relationships with clients and/or agencies. As we all know, these relationships are developed over long periods of time,” says Munro.
A complex field
Runner-up in the category at the MOST Awards this year was Mark1 Media, a digital specialist agency. Managing director Daan du Toit points out that the company won the Best Digital Media Sales Team in 2016 before being moved into the new category in 2017.
“In my view the reason why this category has grown so much is that digital media is a complex field and brands and publishers have realised that, so need a specialist company to assist given the pace of change in technology,” says Du Toit.
Sales director Joe Steyn-Begley says there is competition in their space, which is good, but adds their differentiator is a focus on media solutions for advertisers rather than ad sales.
“But whether you are executing campaigns, or monetising inventory for publishers, technology, data and audiences need to be at the core of everything you do,” he says.
Munro says the OOH sector has fewer competitors, but that she’s noticed they don’t compete for the same client or agency. “It seems to almost be carved out that each media sales consultancy has its own piece of the OOH pie,” she says. The advantages of MMAP’s business model, as opposed to big media owners are “no bureaucracy and less red tape, more flexibility and a more diverse platform offering,” she says.
Du Toit reckons their technology focus, creativity with data and their innovations are at the core of what they do. “Our biggest advantage is definitely our strong specialist team, but also our independence and the fact that we have always been early adopters of technology. Our independence allows us to constantly adapt to the fast moving pace of digital marketing, unlike some of our global competitors. As a local industry, we are disadvantaged that there is a skills shortage. We do our best to provide as much training as we can,” he says.
Of course digital and social media have also had an effect on out of home. Munro says media owners have to keep her team informed and educated on their digital platforms so they can sell their stock effectively. “They need to inform us on exactly how their digital technology works. How many advertisers can advertise on the platform? Do they offer 15 or 30-second adverts, if an advertiser wants to ‘own’ the space, how does that work? Are there packages? One thing that is great is that it allows for immediate execution, no printing involved! We need to be kept abreast of this very popular medium.”
For Mark1 Media, technology is their stock in trade.
“Technology has disrupted a market that was in need of disruption! The skillset had to change massively, and as a business, if you do not adapt constantly in the digital marketing space, you will not survive,” says Du Toit. “In South Africa, publisher revenue dipped with the arrival of programmatic, but that is back on the rise and if publishers adopt the right technology, both advertisers and publishers will benefit largely from programmatic.”
This story was first published in the November 2017 issue of The Media magazine. Click on the cover to read the digital magazine.