When is a media brand, not a media brand?

McGraw Hill Man in ChairI love this ad, I expect most of you have seen it before and in many different formats but this is one occasion when the original is best.  It was created by McGraw Hill, a venerable media brand, back in the 1950’s and was intended to encourage B2B companies to advertise themselves.

The words read “I don’t know: who you are, your company, your company’s product, what your company stands for, your company’s customers, your company’s reputation…. Now what was it you wanted to sell me?”

The media industry has matured dramatically over recent years, it is a long time since media planning was an afterthought to the creative process given 5mins at the end of a long meeting.  Media agencies are multi-million pound businesses in their own right and there are so many new media brands it is impossible to keep up.

So why are media agencies not spending as much time focusing on their own brands? If you asked most advertisers ‘What does XX media agency stand for? or what is unique in their chemistry?’ most advertisers would struggle to find an answer.

In the process of selecting the companies to be included on this year’s International Media Image Survey2014 (I-MIS) brand list, a number of the companies we spoke to claimed not to be a media brand!. The definition of media has changed dramatically, for example, is a company who offers an audience management system a tech brand or a media brand?  I would argue that a media brand is any business which is affectively competing for part of an advertisers or agency’s budget in terms of audience delivery.

Whether you call these new entrants tech or media brands, almost all of them need to improve how they articulate their service or offering..  The jargon many use in their promotions/websites is impenetrable, if you ask the average advertiser what is the difference between a DSP (Demand Side Platform), SSP (Supply Side Platform) or a DMP (Digital Media Partner) they wouldn’t know what you were talking about never mind being able to name a company which offers one.  They need to get back to using English and talking about real business benefits as opposed to functionality!!


Brain drain – as an industry we are competing for talent with companies like McKinsey, PWC and Accenture.   We do well at attracting bright young things straight out of university (media sounds sexy) but we are failing miserably at motivating enough of them to stay for the long haul.  And if I-MIS is correct it is getting worse!!  We asked the agency respondents of I-MIS which agency they would like to work for next, in 2013 24% said ‘none’ in 2014 34% said ‘none’, up 10%.  This is a significant decline – agencies need to really focus on training, motivating and rewarding staff, the days of media buying sweatshops should now be long gone but old habits die hard!!