Shipley: It’s great that media agencies are endorsing the power of earned media

L:R Pooley, Madden, Shipley, Costello

L:R Pooley, Madden, Shipley, Costello

The head of Hill+Knowlton’s APAC digital practice has welcomed a recent declaration by UM media agency boss Mat Baxter that he wanted to do more in the earned and owned media space.

Ben Shipley, digital practice lead, APAC Hill+Knowlton Strategies, speaking at the CommsCon conference in Sydney this afternoon, told the room that Baxter’s citing of PR and digital agencies as competitors for him was good for the industry.

“I’d like to thank Mat Baxter for such a glowing endorsement of the power of earned media,” said Shipley.

“I think it has been a long time since someone who has the ear of the market has so loudly endorsed what it is we have known for a long time.”

Shipley said that his agency relished the battle and that they were also increasingly competing in the paid media.

“I look forward to playing more in the media agency space,” he said. “We have developed a buy-side retargeting platform out of New York so we are definitely moving into that space as well.”

Shipley made the remarks while on a panel that included Text100’s Anne Costello, PPR’s Michael Pooley and The Red Republic’s Fleur Madden.

Anne Costello, regional director of Text100 in APAC, questioned whether the likes of a media agency like UM would be able to compete in the public relations space.

“UM might be able to do that if they can hire some people in, then they will do what we are doing,” said Costello.

“We are competing with media agencies. Our clients are now wanting to talk about paid media now so that’s the first point. In terms of that announcement everyone is looking for growth potential and so it not that unusual an announcement.

“The difference with us is we are crafting a story based on a filter which recognises the people you are talking to fundamentally don’t care (about your product). You have to make them sit up and care.

“A media agency comes from a perspective of pushing something out and it is paid so they are not earning the attention and I think that’s where we can add something.”

PPR executive director Michael Pooley argued that media agencies would struggle to step outside paid media.

“They will struggle if they just try and bolt-on PR,” said Pooley. “They might think we have the lion’s share of the budget, we’ll do PR and take it to journalists. The stuff that comes out from the paid area is clunky and does not resonate with customers.

“They will struggle. This is not a surprise, we saw it coming. The model is changing, they are trying to find new revenue sources to stay alive. We are already competing with them in some respects but I feel confident in that space that we understand that space.”

Shipley also warned there were dangers for media agencies in focusing more on the earned and owned media space.

“The big danger with media agencies moving into the earned and owned space is we have seen the likes of Plista, GroupM’s new product for native advertising,” said Shipley. “I’ve seen a lot of good stuff in that space, but I’ve seen a lot of stuff that does not respect the audience.

“It gives them a direct channel into some of our biggest and most loved media properties but if they don’t have a respect for the audience then they will ruin them, really really quickly.”

Nic Christensen 


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