Bosses at 14 publishing companies will be trying to set up meetings with chief executives of major advertisers that spend 90% of their ad budget on TV.
The advocacy project – where sales executives are trained on how to best promote the magazine medium as a whole – has been sending representatives out into the industry since May and this is the latest step in the battle to wrestle revenue away from other media.
At last week’s PPA consumer advertising sales conference, Ross Webster, head of client development at Emap and an advocate for the PPA, delivered a speech about the achievements of the project so far and its objectives for next year – of which CEO involvement is one.
Webster said: “CEOs have pledged to join the drive and the next few months will see them making advocacy sales calls targeting some of the chiefs of the biggest advertising spenders.”
Ian Locks, CEO of the PPA, explained that getting the publishing heavyweights to back the advocacy project could help get the magazine message across.
He said: “There are different levels of discussions to be had and this would only happen if CEOs were involved.
“The case is, at the moment, that you ask for the marketing director and you sometimes end up getting the marketing assistant.”
Locks added: “We’re conscious of selling our product and perhaps not listening enough in the past. Now we want to listen at the highest level.”
Steve Goodman, group press director at MediaCom, had no problem with top-level executives providing the case for magazine effectiveness, but insisted agencies should be involved in any discussions.
“We’re all behind magazines for the right campaign,” said Goodman. “Together, we’re more likely to meet a collaborative forum. I don’t think they should do that excluding the agency.”
Goodman warned: “I hope that’s not what they try to do. If they end up alienating agencies, it could work against them.”
Steve Booth, CEO of BLM, backed the initiative, describing it as “laudable”, though he was also cautious.
“Anything that gets the impact of media recognised among advertisers is a good thing,” said Booth. “The agency world has been slow to pick up on some of the initiatives in magazines, so I understand the sense of frustration. But I’m sceptical whether it will have any real impact as advertisers rely on agencies, in the main, at senior level.”
The publishing CEOs hope to use the PPA-commissioned report by Taylor Nelson Sofres into magazine effectiveness to make the case with their client-side counterparts. The results of this study are due in January.
By James Livelsey