Newspaper Works boss challenges ‘confusing’ messages from media agencies to publishers

Mark Hollands speaking at the INMA World Congress in New York

Mark Hollands speaking at the INMA World Congress in New York

The head of Australia’s newspaper industry body has told a global forum that messages for print publishers coming out of media agencies are often “contradictory”, “confusing” and at times “disingenuous”.

Speaking on a panel at the International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress in New York, Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works, criticised an earlier panel of global media and ad agency executives arguing advice about going direct to clients or increasing video content was impractical.

“I say this with due respect to the fact that they are buyers and sales people should always respect their buyers,” said Hollands. “But I have to say that I often find not just this panel but media agency people contradictory at times – ‘its about data’, ‘its about gut’, ‘you should do more video’ – when they know that it stretches resources that have already been stretched.”

In that previous session called “Inside the Mind of Madison Avenue”, the president of Starcom MediaVest in America Kimberley Kadlec had argued publishers could and should go direct to clients.

“I do think it is happening (where publishers are going direct to clients)”, said Kadlec. “I think there is a lot of creativity in a lot of these media companies and they are very close to their readers – they understand what they want – and in many cases they are creating the trends and culture so it makes sense they have great insight.

“I do believe publishers going direct is happening more often and I would argue it probably should be… you can’t own a particular part of the process anymore.”

Kadlec’s view was backed by Dave Penski, chief commercial officer of Publicis’s trading entity VivaKi Global, who said: “With smaller clients it makes sense. It is becoming a lot closer, the loop between media, creative and client.”

During his session Hollands responded to those comments telling the audience he did not believe publishers should be going to marketers directly.

“You have got to bring that back to your own business and the way that you engage with them,” he said. “I think you get told several contradictory messages at the same time by media agencies – it’s confusing.

“This idea that you should see the client direct knowing full well that the client can’t possibly see every media owner. I would say it’s disingenuous and not very helpful.

“We don’t know their business well enough… and the agency has a much better knowledge of that client’s business.”

L:R Droga5's Andrew Essex, Starcom MediaVest's Kimberley Kadlec and Zenith's AJ Pandya.

L:R Droga5’s Andrew Essex, Starcom MediaVest’s Kimberley Kadlec and Zenith’s AJ Pandya.

In the Madison Avenue session Penski also noted the revenue challenge facing newspaper publishers describing how a decade ago ZenithOptimedia in the US spent US $1.5bn on the medium, while this year it would be around $100m.

“It is more effective to put dollars into social, mobile, digital and video,” he said.

“You guys have to figure out how to create more video if you are looking for things to sell going forward. That is certainly where things are going – branded quality video content.”

In his comments Hollands also acknowledged the revenue challenges were being faced in many markets including Australia.

Answering a question about how his members were doing financially in Australia he responded: “Do they struggle? Yes of course they do.

“I mean we can see it in the bottom line – that’s undeniable.”

Nic Christensen in New York

Disclaimer: The Newspaper Works is currently advertising on the Mumbrella website.

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