Magazine article Marketing

Profiting from the New Media Boom

Magazine article Marketing

Profiting from the New Media Boom

Article excerpt

Marketing service companies and their clients are making the most of opportunities in e-commerce - but will a shortage of new media talent threaten growth in the UK?

The prime minister may complain, as he did last month, that UK business has been slow to adopt e-commerce and the internet. All the evidence from the marketing service sectors is that clients are taking new media very seriously. In turn, this is having a major impact on the agencies. The biggest threat is the shortage of people with new media technical skills.

The internet often creates work for agencies in ways that are not immediately obvious. PR companies, for instance, are finding that they need to monitor what is said about their clients on the web, and snuff out any fires before they get out of control.

Similarly, market research companies have spotted new opportunities. They are being asked to assess how well clients' web sites are working and to measure the effectiveness of web advertising.

Meanwhile, sales promotion agencies are taking on a load of new challenges, from offline campaigns driving traffic to the client's web site, to online promotions, distance learning, and web site design.

The whole e-commerce thing is "huge and inescapable", according to Carlson's joint CEO, Steve Cook. The group has a specialist subsidiary, CMGpi, and is working on the net with a number of clients, including the charity Sight Savers.

"It's important to understand that the internet is just another channel, so manage it as you would any channel."

"Every client now wants e-commerce solutions," says Jon Claydon, joint chief executive of Claydon Heeley. "The problem is, where do you get the talent? There is a gold rush going on. In that situation, if you've got the skills, are you going to join a sales promotion agency?"

Not that this has deterred Claydon Heeley or the other big players. As previously mentioned in the opening feature, the agency's development plans are based on the assumption that clients will be increasingly focused on e-commerce and data.

It insists that it has served its new media apprenticeship, and now regards web services as mainstream.

Triangle chairman Kevin Twittey echoes this. "Planning, database management and new media are now 'must-have' resources for the larger agencies," he says. "They are the table stakes you need to handle the accounts of big clients."

The Marketing Store Worldwide claims to be investing more in new media than it is in direct marketing. "Direct marketing is very, very important, but we think we will get a better return from developing our new media skills," says managing director Miles Hanson.

"Our approach is focused on the ways brands build themselves, and are presented online. It is not just about having a web site, but building a promotional plan around it," says Hanson. "Traditional promotion skills are extremely transferable to the online environment, but you need the technical and creative skills to bring it to life."

The biggest agencies are building substantial new media teams. Within the KLP Euro RSCG set-up, for example, there is a 24-member team - half based in Scotland and half in London - and headed by former Unilever marketer Rob Noble.

Bates Interactive, which was merged this summer with 141 Communications, has a staff of about 35, according to chairman Graham Green. It also meshes with other parts of the Bates Interactive Network elsewhere in the world.

IMP has about 18 members in a specialist new media unit at Ashford, Kent, and a further seven at its London headquarters. …

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