The Trouble With Integrated Sales
One thing Media Prima’s group MD and CEO Abdul Rahman Ahmad soon learned at the helm of the Malaysian media group, which has interests spanning TV, newspapers, outdoor and recently digital and overseas media, is that a critical ingredient for success is developing strong well-positioned media brands. “That’s a key learning, because we actually thought the key to success was synergy,” Rahman confesses. “Synergy was a big word, and I was guilty of it.”
Synergy has paid off for Media Prima, but mainly from combining back-office operations and applying a unified philosophy to revive struggling channels, rather than in bundled deals and cross-selling. Here Rahman’s enthusiasm has mellowed, tempered by the experience of dealing with advertisers who see integration as a way to cut cheaper deals, rather than increase the impact of their campaigns.
“That, contrary to what we originally thought, wasn’t really the value driver,” he says. “It has happened – we do provide a certain value-add – but it wasn’t as much as I originally envisaged.” As a result, Rahman’s efforts have largely been focused on making sure each media property is either number one or number two in its segment.
In pursuit of an elusive goal
He has not given up on the formerly elusive goal of integrated sales however, introducing a single P&L across Media Prima’s four TV channels. It’s still work in progress. Earlier attempts to cross-sell the four channels to everyone have been abandoned, with separate sales teams dedicated to each channel still in place. However, an extra sales team has been added, with a remit to offer integrated sales to major clients. “It’s still a priority,” Rahman says. “More and more clients say they are willing to pay for value.”
While the group has had some success bringing its TV sales teams closer together, adding radio, outdoor and print to the mix represents a much bigger challenge. As far as integration is concerned, it’s still early days. Internally, the group judges its performance by looking at its share of total advertising, rather than its share of individual media. Sales teams for these different media, however, remain separate.
Nevertheless, integration still lies at the core of Media Prima’s strategy. In some ways Rahman is realizing the goal of a media-integrated investment group he and his team dreamed of in Media Prima’s earliest days.
“Even at that point in time, without knowing what we were getting into, we were articulating this kind of vision,” he reminisces. “In hindsight, what we wanted to be is what we are now, but, truthfully, there are some slight changes. Now when we talk about integrated, we mean it in a slightly different way than we did before.”
This is an extract from a full-length feature published in the Q2 2008 edition of The Asia Media Journal magazine.