Beating the market in a tough media climate

Interview

Reading time : 7 minutes

Even without coronavirus, it’s been a time of upheaval for media sales, as its role in the advertising ecosystem shifts once again. We asked four leading media and advertising figures from RTL Group to look back at the impact on their industry, how they responded, what they’ve learned and how they plan to stay ahead of the game as we face the challenges to come. Here’s what they told us.

What is the situation in your market?

David Larramendy, Managing Director of M6 Publicité (France):

The first six months of 2020 were challenging and we’re waiting to find out how the situation evolves in the coming months. We’ve decided to see a half-full glass: the positives are growth in television viewing time (+15% on the commercial target postlockdown) and that our BVOD service 6play is increasing its audience thanks to a powerful UX and content strategy.

Matthias Dang, Chief Commercial, Technology & Data Officer, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Managing Director, Ad Alliance (Germany):

With advertising revenues decline for everyone, the main priority is to secure our liquidity while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities to our employees. It’s not easy as we’re still in a dynamic situation, meaning the exact amounts involved and the consequences are still not completely foreseeable. We’re therefore thinking and planning according to a range of scenarios. ZAW is assuming a 10% to 20% decline in 2020 – that’s provided there isn’t another lockdown. On the positive side, the easing of lockdown restrictions is ushering in a gradual return to normality with companies cautiously getting back to business, also making more use of advertising again. Now we’re just hoping there won’t be a further wave and that all restrictions will be lifted so that the economy can get back on track and the advertising industry can start picking up again from the fourth quarter – and on into 2021.

Ton Rozestraten, Chief Commercial Officer, Ad Alliance (The Netherlands):

We are gradually seeing the industry recovering and market confidence rising after a substantial decline in adspend. Since the relaxation of lockdown measures, we have identified a nice recovery, particularly in television and online video, with agencies and advertisers daring to look to the future again. We are happy to do so with them.

Denis Masquelier, General Manager, IP Belgium (Belgium):

The first six months of this year have been unprecedented. We have recorded a significant decline in the second quarter, but still, we remain confident about the future and about our capability to rectify the situation. Television has turned out to be a safe haven and common ground for everyone at a time we all fundamentally felt the need for information, but also for entertainment. We’ve seen TV’s average daily viewing time greatly increase during lockdown and we can capitalise on this to rebuild. Advertising can play a role in economic recovery and we are ready to be creative to help this upturn.
We remain confident
about the future and about
our capability to rectify
the situation

What are some key learnings?

David Larramendy:

Firstly, the French population has shown it has real trust in our channels and our content. Also, with Médiamétrie now measuring all TV viewing in and outside the home, we know that TV coverage is at its highest. We’ve also seen TV prove itself for DTC brands who tested the medium. I think they are now convinced and will come back.

Matthias Dang:

Many of the changes brought about by the coronavirus crisis are here to stay, like greater awareness of social responsibility, data-driven communication and greater addressability.
Taking things day by day is the right decision. In situations like this, it’s the only thing you can do. There are too many variables; everyday life is unpredictable. Customer behaviour is extremely variable.
Some clients have frozen their budgets or reduced their advertising to zero. Some canny advertisers have repositioned themselves during the crisis and responded with new campaigns. There are also clients who have increased their budgets; seeing the crisis as an opportunity and bolstering their presence

Ton Rozestraten:

The idea that together you’re stronger, which forms the basis of the creation of Ad Alliance (RTL’s integrated video sales unit), has proved all too true these past six months. In practice this means sharing research, knowledge and insights with our partners and acting together to offer things like the flexible cancellation scheme and free airtime for SMEs – but never losing sight of the importance of a healthy market. In addition, sympathetic campaigns such as providing free airtime for small and medium-sized businesses, brought us together, reinforcing the feeling that we have to be there for one another.

Denis Masquelier:

It was striking to see the dramatic differences in how sectors have been affected. Some had to adapt but continued to communicate throughout, others came to a standstill. From this, we realised how vital it is to stay in touch with our clients, offering empathy and creativity to help.

What are some strategies and innovations you used during the crisis?

David Larramendy:

Pricing strategies were discussed, of course. And our teams have been amazingly creative and resourceful. This meant we managed to adapt our offers and our production facilities so we could support clients who needed to come up quickly with new messaging.

Matthias Dang:

Adopting a unique offer comprising extensive audience reach, efficiency, attractive environments and attentive users was one strategy; adjusting to changing communication and information needs, and engaging in dialogue with partners to find the right solution in each individual case, was another. What was effective was making sure we were a reliable partner, an adviser and problem solver.

Ton Rozestraten:

The crisis forced us to adjust our approach for 2020 and work out alternative scenarios. In this period, we definitively worked out our brand strategy and focused the Ad Alliance core values, and so gave an action perspective to all our employees.

Denis Masquelier:

I have to underline the creativity that our teams have displayed and the dynamism of an industry under so much pressure. Some highlights were the new daily TV format Belges à domicile and taking the gameshow Septante et un digital, so the 70 contestants could compete from their homes. We’ve also developed more partnerships and performance deals with clients. Alternative models have reinforced classic models – more proof of our engagement.

How are you planning to outperform the market?

David Larramendy:

All our teams have stayed focused and are excited to meet up with market players once more. New doors have recently been opened by a new TV regulation, making this time of year even more exciting. TV advertising in cinemas is now possible, and we have been the first sales house to deal with several actors, broadcasting TV campaigns that have proven to be effective. Addressable TV has also been greenlighted : we are working to build a new vision, where the quality and power of TV can finally align with the flexibility and the targeting capabilities of the digital world.

Matthias Dang:

Look ahead, be active, stay agile – that’s our motto, and it has worked very well for us so far. We are about trust, reliability, credibility, brand safety, advertising impact and – above all – content. Looking at the strategies being pursued by media decision-makers gives me confidence because the road map hasn’t changed at all: it’s onwards and upwards. That’s the only viable option.

Ton Rozestraten:

Agility and creativity in our plans have become even more important and we will continue to innovate – for example with new subscription options for our SVOD service Videoland which offers our viewers more freedom of choice, as well as enrichment of our premium video propositions.

Denis Masquelier:

We are preparing ourselves for the return of advertisers looking to make up some ground on their 2020 turnover. We are committed to helping them so we’re increasing the number of prime advertising slots. We are also innovating with new formats and the launch of addressable TV. More than ever, we can, as we say in Belgium, draw strength from unity.
David Larramendy

David Larramendy

Managing Director, M6 Publicité (France)

Ton Rozestraten

Ton Rozestraten

Chief Commercial Officer, Ad Alliance (The Netherlands)

Matthias Dang

Matthias Dang

Chief Commercial, Technology & Data Officer, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland Managing Director, Ad Alliance (Germany)

Denis Masquelier

Denis Masquelier

General Manager, IP Belgium (Belgium)

Leave a comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Latest Posts