Time Inc ad boss Charlie Meredith: ‘We’re likely to sell print ads programmatically in the UK’
Time Inc's decision to sell print ad inventory in the US programmatically is likely to extend to the UK, according to the publisher’s advertising boss for the region Charlie Meredith.
Time Inc’s reasoning is that by automating how advertisers buy audiences such as women and luxury it frees the sales team to act more as consultants, plotting more custom content deals. That’s in addition to the prospect of tighter controls over print prices Time stands to gain from a programmatic platform that will serve targeted audiences at scale through real-time online auctions.
The publisher is currently only selling its US print media in this way but is adamant that it is the future of trading in all markets. Charlie Meredith, managing director of Time Inc UK’s advertising business, told The Drum that a market where there are “standard advertising formats toward automation” made sense.
“I think in time it is likely [that print ads will be sold programmatically in the UK],” he confirmed. “It’s not now because there’s no mechanism in place. No discussions have been had about bringing it over here yet.”
A key issue for publishers and media agencies trading ads this way is protecting yield. Meredith said it was too early to say whether its yield would fall in a UK market for definite though he was confident that the strength of its brands could handle any decline.
“Our positioning for both print and digital is a premium one. We charge for that because of the effectiveness of our great environment for driving ROI. I think we need to see how [programmatic print ads] work but I would hope [yield would not fall] over the longer term,” he added.
Time, like all publishers, already has teams selling audience groups and also guarantees the placement of ads in print, similar to how its digital ads are sold by machines. Should print inventory become automatically traded then it would call into question the role and size of the publisher’s sales team.
Meredith downplayed potential restructures of the team and predicted that those members would add value in other parts of the multi-disciplined teams in which they work.
“I’m sure that’s something that would be welcome in the agencies,” he added. “Where you can drive efficiency by buying paging in standard formats more simply and effectively then let’s do that. That frees up the time for our sales people to add value in other areas whether that’s creative media or content. The role of sales people would definitely change.”
Any programmatic play would need to be tweaked to support the publisher’s revamped advertising offering last month (27 January). Billed as “customer-focused structure”, Time’s advertising business now acts as a single point of access for agencies to plan campaigns and has also formed new category departments - retail, health and beauty, technology and telecoms, and food and drink - to support its titles.
Meredith said: “Whereas in the past it wasn’t possible to come to us and get simple access to the best that we can offer, now we’re more accessible to the agencies.”
The structure is to be bolstered by senior hires, technology launches as well as the publisher’s insight team.