Magazine article Marketing

Tailoring TV

Magazine article Marketing

Tailoring TV

Article excerpt

Pan-European media owners are realising the competitive advantage of appealing to local audiences, writes Edward Shelton

"A-lop-bop-a-doo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom means the same in any language" used to be a favourite saying of Bill Roedy, president of MTV Networks International, when talking about his channel's global appeal and its strategy of broadcasting the same programming across whole continents.

Whilst Roedy's rhetoric is still just as compelling, something must have changed because MTV, and many other pan-European broadcasters are now taking advantage of new digital technology to customise their services for local tastes.

The advent of digital satellite transmission a couple of years ago made cutting local windows into generic services cheaper, but the thinking has changed too. Broadcasters have realised that, although Little Richard's lyric might evoke the same feeling in Belgrade as in Bolton, to maximise the return from a strong media brand like MTV, you need to mix in local identity.

MTV is taking advantage of the new technology to produce split services, says Tania Alonzi, board account director at CIA Medianetwork International. "The point is that they still have the same brand values. They used the technology to improve the editorial offering and to be more flexible for advertisers."

As of this month MTV has four European services: UK, pan-northern, central and southern. It has chosen to split them to reflect local tastes, with the pan-northern and UK services focusing on Britpop and indie music, the central German service playing more techno and dance music and the southern Italian-focused service playing more Europop.

Local divisions

"The most significant thing is that pan-European channels are identifying that competition is local, and are acknowledging this, hence all the local feeds," says Liz Workman, vice-president executive regional media director at Leo Burnett Media.

The new tailored services allow advertisers to increase weight in particular regions, thus meeting local requirements.

One of the problems with the original pan-European services was language. "People have realised that pan-European English language broadcasting does not work," says Gary Bridge, International Media Manager at Optimedia. Hence, Eurosport, which started with just a handful, now offers 14 languages.

CNN International, which originally had the same schedule everywhere, not only now has four separate services for different parts of the world (including a European one), but is also experimenting with a German language window.

Partly as a result of these changes, pan-European media and especially pan-European television (PETV), are expanding both audiences and ad revenue. Services have also been increasing their networks with Eurosport, NBC Europe and CNNI now in more than 70 million homes.

"A lot of people are raising their pan-European budgets, adding TV where it was previously just print," says Georgina Hickey, head of buying at Carat International.

"We've seen a definite increase in the clients that want to advertise pan-regionally. Traditionally, it was big corporates like cars, airlines, hotels. We now use it for companies like Philips," says Hickey.

"More businesses are looking at things on a pan-European basis generally, not just media choices," says Martin Vernon, sales director at EBN, which has carried more than 150 brands in its first two years on air.

A trend that has also helped the growth of pan-European media is the tendency for agencies to centralise their business. Including a pan-European solution in the media plan is then an obvious corollary.

The PETV market is now worth around $260m ([pounds]157m) according to Alonzi, showing probably 10% to 15% growth in recent years with the improvement helping to fund the new tailored services. She says the increase reflects the fact that the medium is being sold better, is more accountable and is more flexible. …

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