Commentary

Media Agencies Will Acquire Place-based Networks, Says Access 360 CEO

Recent years have seen the blurring of lines between publishing, marketing, and advertising and media agencies: for example Meredith Corporation, the publisher of women's titles like Better Homes & Gardens, has snapped up a number of marketing agencies including Genex and O'Grady Meyers. Now, the media blender's latest twist has big advertising and media agencies acquiring place-based networks, adding publishing and distribution to their portfolio of capabilities, according to Lon Otremba, the CEO of Access 360 Media, which combines place-based video in retail venues with online and mobile delivery.

Noting that "the agency model is breaking down," Otremba said big agency owners are picking up place-based video networks as a way of "offering audiences and services bundled together," marking a new approach to vertical integration of media.

Rattling off examples, Otremba recalled that Omnicom acquired IMS, a merchandising service agency specializing in in-store promotional signage and displays and branded merchandise, and MarketStar, which provides retail and channel marketing including brand advocacy, product demos, events, and direct sales.

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Unsurprisingly, agencies are also acquiring mobile marketing companies to boost their ability to reach young consumers, complementing place-based vide networks. Otremba, who previously served as executive vice-president of AOL's interactive marketing group, noted that WPP's acquisition of 24/7 Real Media, an online and mobile ad sales network, may foreshadow further moves into other kinds of publishing and distribution, including place-based video. WPP has also bought stakes in mobile and interactive marketing agencies, if not acquired them outright, like Kassius SA, in France, iconmobile GmbH in Germany, and JumpTap in this country.

The agencies will have plenty of competition as they try to acquire place-based platforms, Otremba warned. Obvious rivals include big media companies like CBS, NBC, ABC, and TimeWarner, which are looking to place-based distribution to reach ever-more-elusive audiences; last year CBS acquired SignStorey, an in-store video network, and NBC and ABC have both struck deals for content-sharing and ad sales with a number of place-based networks.

Private equity is also getting into the act, rolling up multiple networks to offer advertisers greater scale and the convenience of a single point of contact.

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