Ad selling strategies, Cross-platform advertising: Dream vs. Reality

Two years ago media buyers who participated in a conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies forecasted that within 5 years, 40% of the advertising sales volume in the US would be linked to multi-platform deals. The prospect of those sales drove several big media mergers in the late nineties. However, the bursting of the Internet bubble and the persistent low demand of some advertising categories seem to have drastically altered the landscape.

Is cross-platform advertising a viable option in print media for Spanish speaking audiences?

Some publishers think so. Dallas based Belo Corporation plans to launch a sister Spanish language paper to its The Dallas Morning News, based on the promise of cross selling advertising to existing clients who want to specifically address the Hispanic market.

Additionally, Tribune Media, the national advertising and cross media sales organization for Tribune Company and owner of the New York Hispanic daily Hoy, announced that it will partner with the US drugstore chain Walgreen Co. on a multimedia advertising package valued at several million dollars.

Portadatm interviewed a few industry insiders in Spain to get their views about multiplatform advertising.

Selling ads in one “media-brand” with different platforms has had success…

Grupo Recoletos' Expansion, Spain's most read financial daily (January 2003 average circulation of 80,000), has been successful in getting companies to advertise in one “media-brand” (Expansion) and use different distribution channels (Expansion Directo [Internet] and Expansion-TV).

Angel Guardiola, who runs advertising sales for financial media at Novomedia (Grupo Recoletos' advertising sales company) tries to sell multi-platform packages, but he says “most advertisers are not willing to pay substantially more for ad-space in different platforms. They are only willing to spend small amounts on media that has yet to be proven.”

To Guardiola the key to multi-platform advertising is good packaging. “This way advertisers can see the added value they get out of advertising in different platforms.” According to Guardiola, media buying agencies which have a rigid structure with one unit covering each platform cannot offer the flexiblity and perspective needed to create a complete campaign. “This is the advantage of a company like Grupo Recoletos”, he notes.

Guardiola believes that in 2003, 90% of his campaigns will take advantage of both the Expansion newspaper and Expansion-Directo (website). Once Expansion Radio is launched (the Spanish government has already granted the licenses) it will also be included in the package. According to Guardiola, TV ads are more difficult to include in a cross-platform package because of the high costs of producing the spots.

Recoletos, publisher of Spain's leading sports daily Marca (January 2003 average circulation of 450,000), has developed two additional distribution channels for Marca's content: Radio Marca and Marca.com.

Sources at Marca report that “advertisers are increasingly conscious about the need to explore new approaches. Multi-platform deals are gaining in popularity. They may still be scarce in large campaigns, but they are very useful in concrete product launches.” They add that “cross-promotions in different media are relatively cheaper compared to an ad-placement in a single platform. It seems logical that advertisers will want to pay a little bit more to be published in three different platforms and, this way, have a larger impact than if they were advertising in just one channel.”

When asked if advertisers in the financial daily Cinco Días, Expansion's competitor, are also buying space in the internet edition, Gabriel González, sales representatives at Grupo Prisa's advertising sales unit GDM, says that discounting plays a vital role in inducing buyers to purchase space

in different platforms. “The tough economy and online advertising's failure to live up to its initial promise has led media companies to offer very attractive packages for different platforms.” He tries to package offers in order to maximize a campaign. “Even then,” says Gonzalez, “there are some advertisers who are just interested in a single platform and are not interested in these integrated packages, but, in general, these packages do work.”

...but cross-promotion of advertising in different “media-brands” has not taken off.

Very few advertisers cross into different media-brands (e.g. from Rocoletos' Marca to Recoletos' fashion magazine Telva), even if the publications are owned by the same media company.

Sources at Recoletos note that in order to get an advertiser to buy time or space in their other media-brands, Recoletos would have to mobilize a lot of people who are not accustomed to working in a coordinated way. “It would not be profitable because we would waste a lot of time,” they claim. Angel Guardiola says that “only once or twice a year” does an advertiser from one of Recoletos' print media outlets (e.g. Marca) choose to advertise in a different one (Expansión or Telva).

GDM's González claims that advertisers have grown more discerning.

“We used to have a common rate for our regional newspaper advertising, either the whole package was sold or no space at all. Now, we have a new package which only includes newspapers who are market leaders.”

Print media - still the main vehicle for most advertisers

According to Angel Guardiola of Recoletos, “the newpaper is still the vehicle for most advertisers.” He explains that “during the dot.com boom internet companies looked to the net first and then considered print. This can still happen with a small company on a very limited budget, they might test the waters on the net and then, after some success venture into print.” But generally sources at Recoletos, themselves publishers of two successful newspapers, agree that advertisers continue to enter through print first.

To Gabriel Ruiz at GDM the picture looks different. “The large consumer advertisers bet first on television because they are interested in reaching very large audiences. That is why they spend 85% to 90% of their budgets in TV ads. Other advertisers, however, try to cover the four basic media – television, print, web and radio – at the same time.”


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