Wednesday, January 26, 2005

ESPN Unifies Ad Sales Forces Across All Media

One of the panels at next week's SIIA IIS Summit meeting in New York is titled, Walking the Tight Rope: Balancing Online Revenue Channels in the Online Circus. For many publishers, revenues come from two sources: content sales and ad sales. In both areas, separate operations still exist for "traditional" distribution channels and "online" distribution channels. But, to serve the needs of readers and advertisers, publishers are going to have to start offering "media neutral" options. With content sales, customers increasingly want to be able to use the content they download (paid or free) on a number of media platforms. With advertising sales, advertisers are increasingly seeking options for creating and placing integrated campaigns that leverage a number of media outlets. MediaPost reports that ESPN is reorganizing its advertising sales units into unified teams of "'multimedia specialists' who will complete integrated deals and account executives who will execute agreements for a specific medium at a customer's request." Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales, goes on to say that "This reconfiguration will...bring even greater value to our customers with our market knowledge, and enhance our position as the leading sports marketing and media entity in the world." The comment may sound a bit self-important, but it certainly reflects the reality that integrating advertising sales groups--and content sales groups--is a required move for publishers who truly want to succeed in the digital age. ESPN's move is a precursor for many more to follow.
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