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Verklin Keeps Media Panelists on Their Toes

Posted by Mort Greenberg on March 7, 2008


Aegis Americas Chief Intent on Showing Depth of Fragmentation

Published: March 06, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. ( — The answer, by the way, is definitely “No.”

On a panel titled “Are Traditional Media Really Adjusting to the New Digital World?” held before a large audience attending the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ annual Media Conference and Trade Show, several representatives from a broad swath of media types admitted that the massive changes affecting print, TV and radio have taken their toll.

Dodging the questions?
As moderator David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas, peppered the panel with questions such as “Are magazines in decline?” and “Is radio in decline?” executives from those industries fended off the inquiry with the usual talk of their media’s particular advantages. But this year, with digital technology stealing consumer time, the answers didn’t always feel satisfactory.

John Squires, exec VP, Time Inc., played up the strength of People magazine and its broad reach. But he also noted that Time Inc. had endured cost cutting and has not been seeing growth surges in recent months. Frank Comerford, president-general manager of WNBC, noted that in years past, TV stations had more control over when and where people saw the programming they aired. Stations even were able to have a sort of “geographic lockdown” over connecting with consumers in a particular region. No longer, he said.

A panel featuring representatives from magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, out of home and Yellow Pages has long been a mainstay at this conference. It’s usually a time for different executives to boast about how well their properties deliver consumers for marketers. This year, however, with so much disruption taking place due to emerging digital-media outlets, those arguments tend to ring hollow.

Throwing darts
Mr. Verklin threw darts for much of the event. He asked Martin Nisenholtz, senior VP-digital operations, the New York Times Co., whether getting the editorial staff of one of the nation’s largest papers to go digital caused cultural issues at The New York Times.

In another probe, Mr. Verklin asked the six executives on the panel whether they had different teams of ad executives for different kinds of media. WNBC’s Mr. Comerford said he has three teams: one for TV sales, one for digital and one to handle integrated projects. Time Inc.’s Mr. Squires said the situation varies by media property. Mr. Nisenholtz said there is one team to handle the Times Co.’s newspaper group and another for the company’s About web properties. David J. Field, president-CEO, Entercom Communications Corp., said the company has one unified sales team.

All of it just goes to show that there’s no one way to make things work as media continues to fragment.


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