LONDON - Understanding consumer behaviour is the key to media success in the future

Peter Mitchell, Managing director

WWAV Rapp Collins Media

Nigel Sharrocks is, in theory, correct when he says that "direct people make the transition to working with digital media look easy" (Comment, 10 July, page 19).

He is also right when he argues that "thinking about consumers as individuals and working out how to reach them is built into the DNA of direct".

But it is not quite that simple, for many people are still falling into the trap of putting digital into a "ghetto" (not dissimilar to what has happened to media over the years).

So digital divisions have sprung up in a bid to add on the digital expertise agencies now acknow-ledge they need.

But digital doesn't belong in a ghetto. It belongs alongside other media channels in the overall context of delivering media-neutral solutions driven by consumer insight.

WWAV Rapp Collins has always had its media offering as integral to the overall client offering. Digital is exactly the same. It is "normalised" into the fabric of our business, integrated into the agency at all levels and all areas.

The rationale is simple. It's all about the consumer. We have to be obsessive about understanding how and why consumer behaviour is changing; understand the impact of media fragmentation and how it is changing how consumers interact with brands.

The more that we understand consumer behaviour, the more able we are to guide clients through the media maze, developing tailored communications strategies that often utilise traditional and non-traditional routes to market, seamlessly integrated to deliver outstanding results.

Ultimately, it's not actually about old or new media.

It's about understanding the consumer to the point that you communicate with them in the way they want, not that the brand dictates. That's the future


Day looms when digital strategy will drive all

David Dent, Planning director

Digital Rock

I agree with all of  Nigel Sharrocks' sentiments Direct sets a benchmark for the industry to follow (Comment, 10 July, page 19), but the biggest challenge that faces traditional- thinking media agencies is leaving the "gold standard" of many traditional research-based planning tools behind.

While they provide a nice comfort blanket for media people to hide behind, they do not allow for an open-minded, free-thinking approach that delivers successful creative strategies.

Good communications consultants aren't people who can manipulate reams of data; they are individuals who understand people. You could argue that psychologists could be most adept at performing the role; direct people have just got a head start because accountability has always been at the heart of everything they have had to do.

The strategist in the future will have to have a broad skill base, from anthropologist to data analyst, from media expert to economist. Whether these capabilities lie in one person or agencies need to adopt a creative team-style structure remains to be seen.

What I can say is that nothing will progress until the dependency on traditional research is overcome and a more broadminded acceptance of other forms of data is taken. The day of the digital strategy driving everything else is just around the corner.


Print media is still  very much alive and kicking

Paul Ashby

Founder, Effective Accountable Communication

I found your article Ten reasons why magazines have a great future (10 July, page 22) of great interest.

Allow me to amplify upon the article. I feel there is ample justification for questioning a major advertising pretension that TV advertising does work. In my opinion, there is no need to question "is print dead?" - it is not, nor should it be allowed to "die".

All human knowledge is provisional, but it is also incremental; the sum of what we know today is far greater than 30 years ago, with, possibly, the sole exception of marketing/advertising.

It is more than possible that people may look back on the six or seven years either side of 2000 as a period of aberration, when advertising people temporarily became obsessed with technology and forgot that the most intoxicating thing in human existence is our ability to communicate in print, far more effectively than through any other medium. 

Advertising agencies rushed into broadcast television and, more recently, the internet. The reason for this has nothing to do with advertising effectiveness, but all to do with economic imperatives. After all, agencies tend to nurture their own illusions.

Similarly, it is always possible to face up to any problem simply by fixating on fictional evidence, such as "advertising works".

We have, over time, acquired a lot of research that would indicate that print, in whatever form, is very effective in most key effectiveness measurements, including sales. 

In today's over-informed world, better known as clutter, magazines have much going for them. They are, as your article points out, actively purchased, technology-proof, portable, require no electricity and you can take them anywhere an iPod would go.

So no, print isn't dead.


Media owners must face up toTUPE's implications

Name and address supplied

In April last year, the Government introduced the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), whereby employees have the right to transfer to another firm when a client moves its account from their company to that other firm.

This has already taken effect in cases where an advertising or PR account moves from one agency to another, and will probably cover a range of marketing services.

However, there are also far-reaching implications for advertising sales, which no one seems to have explored.

There are many sales houses and contractors selling advertising for publishers, digital TV channels and property owners, where the business is regularly moved from one sales house to another.

Based on precedents in the last 18 months, it looks as if the TUPE regulations will apply in these cases also.

There is a strong case for saying that where one or more employees are working mainly, or exclusively, selling advertising on the client's behalf, they have the right to be transferred to the winning sales house.

This is a factor that will have to be taken into consideration in the future when media owners are reviewing their sales accounts.


We welcome your letters and e-mails by Wednesday to mwnewsdesk@haymarket.com or MediaWeek,

Haymarket Business Media, 174 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 7JP, or fax us 020 8267 8020

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