As the media landscape continues to become increasingly fragmented, marketers and advertising agencies are following suit in the ways they’re slicing and dicing their budgets across print and digital with publishing companies and magazines. In consumer publishing, fostering creative and innovative strategies to keep dollars within a brand is a necessary course of action for publishers.

“I’m not quite sure what the future holds,” says Paul Rossi, managing director and executive vice-president of The Economist Group, Americas. “Money is clearly coming out of print advertising and it’s going into digital, which means online and in-app advertising. You can see the shift of money coming out of print and the other two areas growing. I’m not sure how much is structural and how much is the economy.”

Due to this uncertainty, in addition to changes when it comes to platform options, The Economist, like many publishers, is getting creative.

“We’re working with marketers to help them use content as a way of engaging customers in conversation,” says Rossi. “Branded content is an area of growth.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the publisher’s content development business, but the company also has a research business that offers custom research services. Additionally, the brand is producing more events, which are recorded and become video assets. The Economist Group is launching its TVC Group in the U.S.—an overseas office of its marketing communications agency, which The Economist acquired in March 2012.

“(TVC is) basically a video content creation and distribution business,” adds Rossi. “Our investments are in creating thought leadership, branded content and distribution avenues as marketers are increasingly asking for help with that. More often, we’re bundling that with traditional advertising.”

The way the publisher is executing on these programs is also becoming more fluid. “In the past, you sold products that were finite and had budgets allocated to them,” says Rossi. “Increasingly, you’re selling solutions that cross many budgets—we wouldn’t normally start a conversation with offering 40 percent print, 20 percent digital and 5 percent online. It works the other way around—you work on an idea and then think about how to execute that across all of your products.”

Rossi says this kind of marketing is more client focused than product focused. “One of things that integration and packaging allows us to do is help marketers understand where the opportunities are across all of our platforms that they may not have seen otherwise.”

The Agency Perspective

Understanding opportunities can be directly linked to expectations. Robin Steinberg, executive vice president and director of publishing investment and activation for media services company MediaVest, forecasts a similar focus when it comes to ad spend.

“This is not about print or digital, it’s about content and audience,” she says. “Clients don’t request print or digital—it’s about understanding business challenges and delivering on goals. It’s not an ‘or’ statement, but an ‘and’ statement.”

Steinberg adds that each platform plays a different role so that by understanding each asset of the a publisher’s business, a company like her own can better deliver results to clients. For her business, Steinberg says that the focus is no longer on selling and buying pages but about a variety of experiential marketing—when and where a client wants.

“We are in the middle of an incredible paradigm shift,” she adds. “Publisher’s that understand and embrace this shift, and build the right experiences for consumers based on their expectations and demands, will win. Those that can create the opportunities for the consumer to lean back (build brands) and lean in (interact) will succeed. The industry is moving from a static-to-dynamic approach where technology is enabling the consumer to engage and interact. We need to move to an audience-based buying approach, and create new processes, models and metrics. Data is another important component, but balancing art and science is critical to break through. Keeping traditional approaches won’t work for the future.”

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