Media Week 2007

Leading media movers and shakers recount their highlights of the year and reveal their predictions for 2008.

If 2006 was the year of digital, 2007 has been the year of ... well, digital. Yet again the medium has continued to dominate industry developments, with search rocketing up the food chain, the launch of the iPhone, media owners repositioning themselves, and the explosion of social networks.

Yet again there has been a migration of top-level personnel to reflect this shift, with Duncan George going to AOL and Blake Chandlee moving from the now-establishment Yahoo! to join Facebook.

But plenty has been happening offline as well - 4 Digital's clinching of the second multiplex, the row between Virgin and Sky, and Michael Grade's arrival at ITV, to name just a few developments.

But what do some of the industry's key players see as the year's big stories, and what do they see unfurling for the 12 months ahead?

SYLVIA AUTON, Chief executive, IPC Media and executive vice-president, Time Inc

- Key development of 2007?

The exponential growth of home broadband penetration continues to exceed the most optimistic forecasts. More than any other development, this growth is changing not only mass-market media consumption, but buying behaviour too.

In the consumer magazine market, it has to be the possible break-up of Emap.

- Personal highlights:

There have been a few. The successful launch of Look, the highest launch retail sales value (RSV) of any title in 17 years and, overnight, the UK's biggest-selling fashion magazine in copy sales. Also, the launch of goodtoknow.co.uk as the UK's first site to focus 100% on the value-conscious mass-market woman, successfully leveraging our unrivalled knowledge of these women in the digital space.

And nuts.co.uk becoming the UK's number one site in page impressions in the men's lifestyle sector.

- What one thing would you have liked to have been responsible for?

Bebo.

- Standout individual or company?

Rupert Murdoch, but then it always is.

- Prediction for 2008:

The iPhone will become the mobile technology gadget of the year. I forecast that in 2008 it will make mobile internet come of age, very much in the same way as the iPod has defined portable music. It will transform mobile advertising into a serious ad medium.

MARK HOWE, Country director, UK sales, Google

- Biggest news or development of 2007?

The rise of social media and brands starting to engage with consumers in innovative ways. MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are made up of passionate communities offering huge potential for brands engaged in the right way. As no one brand has cracked it yet, the best innovation is still to come.

- Personal highlights:

Seeing the advertising community really starting to adopt search as a core part of their media planning. Personally, I enjoyed talking to many senior people within the ad and agency community now embracing what the search industry has to offer.

- What's the one thing you wish you were responsible for, or the one thing you could have handled better?

I'm not sure I can include wishing I had been responsible for England defying the critics and getting to the Rugby World Cup final, beating the Aussies on the way.

Seriously though, we could do even more with the agency community to enhance a partnership status, but there are only so many hours in the day.

- Standout individual or company?

Apple continues to stand out year on year. It puts consumers at the heart of its strategy before designing and launching creative, innovative and great-looking products, culminating in the release of the iPhone.

- Prediction for 2008:

We'll continue to see not only the rise of social media, but also how these networks and sites link together, creating a better user experience - not least because of our recently announced OpenSocial initiative.

Also, the continued acceleration of ad budgets to online channels, and an increasing realisation that search is not just an acquisition vehicle, but a driver of brand reputation, association and awareness.

GARY DIGBY, Managing director, ITV Customer Relations

- Biggest news or development of 2007?

For us it was getting the FA Cup and England rugby matches and generally ITV1 coming back to its best. When the brand leader's not doing well, it's not good for TV in general, and part of the reason TV revenues have been more buoyant has been due to ITV. Restrictions on HFSS brand ads is a massive issue for all broadcasters and has revenue implications for everybody.

It's very unfair that people who hold licences have been picked on - it's an issue across a host of different platforms.

- Personal highlights:

My wife's expecting twins. At work, the progress we've made as a sales company, restructuring, success in sponsorship and online. I'm also pleased with how we have performed in the marketplace, getting closer to the planning departments in agencies.

- What one thing would you have liked to have been responsible for?

Appointing the England football manager. Every football fan in the UK believes they could have done a better job than Steve McClaren and got us through to Euro 2008.

- Standout individual or company?

Us - we've had an absolutely fantastic year. Audiences are much better, we're the only broadcaster to have grown impacts, digital is doing well and we've had the biggest launch of any brand this year with Britain's Got Talent. Michael Grade has brought a degree of confidence back to the company that wasn't there before. It feels like we work for an entertainment brand again.

- Prediction for 2008:

TV will continue to go from strength to strength. Things are in vogue one day and out the next. Digital was the fashionable space to be in, but if you want powerful brand-building weapons, TV is the most powerful weapon there is.

NATHALIE SCHWARZ, New business and corporate development director, Channel 4

- Key development of 2007?

The phenomenal rise of Facebook has demonstrated the speed at which people will pick up on a strong idea and, in doing so, start to change the communications landscape and the way we lead our daily lives.

- Personal highlights:

Winning the bid for the second national digital radio multiplex. It's incredible that in a year, we launched Channel 4 Radio and its website - and developed a licence application with a formidable multimedia consortium, consisting of some of the biggest names in radio, television, publishing, retail, technical expertise and data innovation. We are really excited about bringing our plans to launch in 2008.

- What one thing would you have liked to have been responsible for?

With no other product like it on the market yet, the iPhone stands out as the launch device of 2007. I would have loved to have developed the idea and brought it to market. It represents the beginning of the next phase of mobile media and the way in which content (music and video) and services can be enjoyed on the go wherever you are.

- Standout individual or company?

Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch, for their spirit of innovation, and helping to ignite the interest and excitement of hard-to-reach - and demanding - young consumers.

- Prediction for 2008:

Facebook acquires global wireless spectrum and seizes the opportunity to "remotely" host the 2008 Kyoto Conference, in order to reduce the carbon footprint from this year's event, which saw 10,000 delegates travelling to Bali to convene on environmental issues.

BLAKE CHANDLEE, Commercial director UK, Facebook

- Key development of 2007?

The M&A activity within the digital space. Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google spent billions of dollars to acquire inventory on the internet, and with Blue Lithium/Right Media, aQuantive, and DoubleClick respectively, another phase has been entered, in which the big get bigger and look more alike in their long-term strategies. The key here is scale and ubiquity across the web with data and targeting being differentiators. And, of course, it's the year social networking came of age.

- Personal highlights:

That's easy - although one of the hardest decisions I have made because of my tenure and team; leaving Yahoo! to help launch Facebook's UK office was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am very fortunate.

- What situation would you have handled better?

There was a perfect storm at AOL where new EU leadership came in, the entire business model shifted, with the access business offloaded to The Carphone Warehouse, and they lost key leadership in their commercial operations. These were all separate events, but the impact was staggering to watch. The above said, they are already coming back strong.

- Standout individual or company?

Individual: Michael Grade's move from the BBC to ITV and his subsequent plan to re-energise the organisation around content, with his first big hire being Dawn Airey.

Company: there has been some tremendous innovation, notably Apple with iPhone, Nintendo and Wii, Joost has finally launched - and the amazing impact of Facebook in our lives.

- Prediction for 2008:

ITV, with the investment in programming that Grade has talked about, could once again show the strength to capture large audiences.

I will be watching the big three in digital battling it out. With the enormous investments by Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! now made, whoever executes best wins. Facebook might have a few tricks up its sleeve as well.

NIGEL SHARROCKS, Chief executive, Aegis Media UK & Ireland

- Key development of 2007?

Facebook has really arrived on the agenda this year. It will be interesting to see how the advertising industry develops new forms of brand communication that can live comfortably within social media. The other big development was the galvanising effect Michael Grade has had on ITV.

- Personal highlights:

I am just delighted that all Aegis businesses are doing well and are continuing to break new ground.

- What one thing would you like to have been responsible for or what situation do you think you could have handled better?

The England football manager's job, but I may not be entirely alone in thinking this. In advertising, the Cadbury's Gorilla spot stood out as an example of "borrowed interest" that broke all the rules of what makes good orthodox advertising, while propelling the brand straight into the new world of user-generated content. As all the YouTube iterations of the ad indicate, an infectious idea and some well-judged humour can be a real winner.

- Standout individual or company?

Google continues to innovate and develop its business in many new and interesting ways.

- Prediction for 2008:

In marketing, corporate social responsibility will become even more prominent. In media, we're going to see the end of adversarial relationships and the re-emergence of collaboration and partnership, which will not just be preferable, it will be absolutely necessary in order to get the most out of the new joined-up digital world.

ROISIN DONNELLY, Corporate marketing director, Procter & Gamble

- Key development of 2007?

Old media is not dead; it is living and thriving alongside new media.

Consumers are spending more time consuming more media than ever before. The Facebook addict is still watching TV. The passionate bloggers still read newspapers on their commute. The BlackBerry addict still loses herself in her glossy magazine. The obsessive texters listen to their radio station every day - great news for us as marketers, agencies and media owners.

- Personal highlights:

Innovation is in our DNA at P&G. In 2007, we have launched more new products and developed more innovative marketing than ever before. We have won 10 Product of the Year awards, voted by the consumer.

- What one thing would you like to have been responsible for or what situation do you think you could have handled better?

Gordon Brown and his advisors did not handle the on/off election very effectively. Basic marketing principles would have helped. He needs to listen to his consumer, deeply understand their hopes and dreams, and develop ideas to delight them. Also in marketing - make a decision and stick to it.

- Standout individual or company?

This may be a cliche. Time magazine recognised their person of the year as "you the consumer", in 2006 and in 2007. The consumer has gone from strength to strength, creating more content than ever before.

- Prediction for 2008:

I am really excited at media owners collaborating together. In TV, the Kangaroo initiative is a great example of getting different TV owners to work together to provide great content for the consumer and an exciting new platform for advertisers.

In online, the industry needs to work together on measurement. Thinkbox and the IAB can play a powerful role and make a big difference in 2008.

CLIVE MILNER, Group managing director, News International

- Biggest media news of 2007?

The biggest news has been the turmoil and loss of trust in the television industry. For newspapers, this year has seen them maturing into multi-platform media with strong growth online and, in the case of The Sun, also on its mobile platform.

- Personal highlights:

Being part of the team that has delivered News International's manufacturing future - a £650m project on time and on budget. And establishing thelondonpaper in the market, despite hostile competition.

- What one thing would you like to have been responsible for or what situation do you think you could have handled better?

Situations that could have been handled better have to be Northern Rock, England v Croatia and keeping 25 million names confidential.

- Standout individual or company?

It has to be Facebook - good idea, great business and a fantastic valuation.

- Prediction for 2008:

My prediction for 2008 is LinkedIn - the business Facebook. And Skype - this will be a make-or-break year and I think it will finally crack it.

BARRY SAYER, Chief executive, Clear Channel

- Key development of 2007?

Digital - it's the biggest new platform to hit the industry and it's going to revolutionise outdoor. It makes us instant, so at last we can keep up with the flexibility of press, radio and TV.

The whole dumping of Virgin off Sky channels was interesting and controversial - it shows how aggressive the marketplace is.

- Personal highlights:

Being parachuted in for a six-month sojourn and then that being extended, I had to protect the interests of Clear Channel and I'm particularly pleased with how we have protected all our major contracts.

- What one thing would you have liked to have been responsible for?

Cross-track projection on the Underground. It might be running later than CBS had hoped, but that's understandable. I wish we had that contract - in the closed environment you can get much closer with the creative than you can on the roads.

- Standout individual or company?

Again, CBS Outdoor. Digital is a revolution, and it has been up and running with it first. If you go up the escalator and see the way the digital panels work, it's exciting, interesting and dynamic. And CBS has experimented well with the sides of buses. If we applaud our peers, you've got to say they have made the changes and are quite well advanced.

- Prediction for 2008:

Digital will accelerate - we're seeing a commitment from the big players and if we all start talking to each other and the sites become buyable across networks, we will see it become bigger and more relevant. Everybody is seeing the folly of not taking an industry approach to selling - the demand will be there if we can create proper coverage.

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