Until recent years, advertising across MediaWorks' various properties was sold by independent sales arms. TV was sold by the TV sales team, radio was sold through The Radio Bureau and digital spots were facilitated through the interactive sales team. Rarely did these disparate bodies work together to deliver cross-channel solutions for advertisers. In fact, the commission structure, which rewarded individual sales people working within these silos, meant that sales people were encouraged to upsell their own channel, sometimes to the detriment of other channels.
And while this approach worked at a time when the lines between channels were clearly defined, it has become largely impracticable to a company that is already running integrated campaigns on major shows and is also on the verge of launching an ambitious cross-channel show fronted by Paul Henry.
Last May, MediaWorks set out to change this by bringing its sales teams closer together.
"We started this process in direct by moving the TV direct team into where the radio direct team sits, and that was a test trial for us by getting those two teams still working independently but sitting closer together, and the success of that has blown us away," says Liz Fraser the group head of revenue at MediaWorks. "Opening up the communication between those teams and those client opportunities has generated fantastic results."
Fraser says that since the new approach was employed, the sales revenue generated has increased by over twenty percent—something she largely attributes to the discussions being fostered by the close proximity of the teams. Following on from this success, MediaWorks has been tinkering with its structure and has now announced that it has brought together all sales teams across the business to create a fully integrated group sales structure.
"We’ve got three teams led by Nicole Jones, Michelle Cole and Gerhard Simanke, and so we have two very experienced TV people and one very experienced radio person," Fraser explains. "Underneath each of those teams, they’ll have a TV sales manager, a radio sales manager and a digital sales manager, as well as the support teams under them. So, when briefing us, agencies can choose can bring one person from the team in or they might choose to bring in all four. They might also choose to bring someone like [commercial director] Paul Hancox, [head of integration] Glen Kyne or Alana O’Neil, who looks after our integration teams in radio and TV. So there are a lot of other specialised people and a lot of support around those three teams as well."
She explains that these shifts have resulted in major changes to the conversations that sales teams have with clients.
"When we have a meeting now, they’re not just listening to the TV team, to TRB about radio or to our individual digital team. They’re getting the full MediaWorks suite of activity."
Hancox says this new approach has introduced a flexibility to the team, which the previous rigid structure did not allow.
"They [clients] can handpick: do they want radio integration? Do they want our radio person? Do they want our top planner on the spot?" he says.
And he adds that the staff is collaboration is also encouraged through a new approach to sales commission.
"Liz has worked on a remuneration structure that runs across the group rather than within the silos or channels where you’re competing and fighting among yourselves.”
Rachel Lorimer, the group head of corporate comms, adds: "It removes the natural bias. If you’re just working in TV sales, the centre-piece of your world is going to be TV. But if you go in with this type of team, and the research shows that the client brief is best served by a radio-centric brief with TV and digital built around it, that’s what will be presented."
In addition to bringing about some significant internal changes at MediaWorks, it also changes the role that TRB has played until now as body through which radio advertising is purchased. Under MediaWorks' new structure, agencies can now approach MediaWorks directly to negotiate radio spots.
"What we’ve said to agencies is that it’s actually their choice whether they want to use TRB or whether they want to negotiate and book directly with us," says Fraser.
"The feedback that we’ve had from agencies has been incredibly positive around our structure and thee will definitely be some agencies that come directly to us. There are some that still want to use TRB, because they don’t have their own internal resource. And then there will also be some agencies that will do a mix of both. So they might come in and negotiate with us, but they might still want to place their bookings through TRB. Time will tell how everyone wants to operate with us on the radio front."
From MediaWorks' perspective this makes sense given that many of their shows now stretch across channels, making collaboration not only profitable but, in some cases, also necessary to expand the reach of clients' messages. And as Fraser points out, "no other media organisation in New Zealand has [TV, radio and digital] assets bundled together".
"If you look at The Block NZ, X Factor and now The Bachelor NZ, we’ve already been bundling those opportunities together from a TV, radio and digital perspective. It’s not a foreign concept to us. It’s just something that we’re developing and evolving more and more ... Combining our audiences we reach 96 percent of all demographics across the country. So there’s really not anyone that we can’t reach with the MediaWorks properties."
The appeal of this consolidated reach has also resonated at NZME, with the organisation also pulling its previously disparate strings of radio, print, digital and experiential together to offer clients integrated advertising options that put brand messages in front of as many people as possible.
And while these moves are essentially breaking down structures that have been in developed over decades, they are necessary to ensure that clients don't take their funds elsewhere in a bid to get the reach they now expect.