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Better together: why the media trade bodies have partnered

12 Sep 2019  |  Denise Turner 
Better together: why the media trade bodies have partnered

Inspired by their German counterparts, the UK's media and advertising trade bodies have embraced a new spirit of collaboration. On behalf of the whole group, Denise Turner and Tim Elkington explain why.


“But we are strong, each in our purpose, and we are all more strong together.”  

- Bram Stoker



Togetherness has been a bit of a theme in quite a few of the films released this summer. The latest in the Fast and Furious franchise – Hobbs and Shaw, tells the story of two very different men who discover that they can achieve more by working as a team than they can alone. In Dora and the Lost City of Gold a group of oddball teenagers find friendship helps them to overcome obstacles in their way. And in the beautiful remake of the Lion King, Simba strikes up an unlikely partnership with a meerkat and a warthog.

In all of these films, the characters move from independence to interdependence. Whilst they all have their individual strengths, there is an obvious benefit when they come together. In the same way, media trade bodies in the UK all have their individual roles and strengths. Our role ultimately is to promote the medium we represent, to ensure that we remain top of mind and on the client’s schedule.

In the past this has often meant a combative stance, and promotion of one medium, at the expense of, or in extreme cases, to the detriment of others. But in recent times this has been changing.

Brian Jacobs reflected on this in March last year in one of his excellent Cog Blog posts ‘Trade bodies rule’. Brian was discussing the work of UK trade bodies which is “driving the research agenda by doing fascinating work that advances thought and drives (or should drive) action”.

Indeed, there has been a move by all of us to focus on research which expands understanding and focuses on the bigger picture, whilst still promoting our own particular medium.

No trade body or media owner project is an island (just as no medium is an island working in isolation); stories and themes are built from a number of studies pointing in the same direction. As trade bodies, we know that all of our research plays an important role and we all respect each other’s work.

Brian’s comments reflect the fact that we have more in common now than ever before. At the same time, there has been an increasing desire from the industry for more togetherness, for cross-media initiatives – whether that be in industry measurement, research projects or working groups.

As trade bodies we recognise that no single one of us has all the answers. This is especially true in a world where the lines between channels are blurring. Not only have we experienced significant advances in online marketing but there have also been massive changes in the delivery and consumption of existing 'traditional' channels. Content is no longer synonymous with the platform or device on which it is consumed. It is fluid across platforms and evolves to meet the demands of the changing landscape.

Because of all of this,  we recognise that there is value in coming together, and for the last few years we’ve been meeting regularly in twos and threes to talk things over informally. As planners and researchers we recognise the value in debate and discussion, and can hold the tension between collaboration and competitiveness

About a year ago, we started meeting together as a bigger, but still informal, group. We were inspired by the example of the German media industry which created the rather nattily-named Qualitatsinitiative Werbeforschung (translated as the quality initiative for advertising research) – or QiWi for short.

In the German QiWi, the trade bodies and occasionally some of their media owner members meet together regularly to discuss and debate issues, to advance thinking. So, we’ve been doing the same. Our goal is to cement collaboration, to come together to debate, discuss and influence and to address some of the common challenges we see in our industry. One of those things that we’ve observed is the temptation within media planning to chase audience at the lowest possible cost, without enough reference or consideration for the context in which the advertising is encountered.

Fortunately, many of us have carried out research that addresses this very issue in different ways, so we’re coming together to put on our first event on the morning of 17th October during IPA’s EffWeek, we hope this will be start of increased collaboration amongst media trade bodies and give the industry inspiration around this issue.

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On behalf of AA, AOP, DCM, DMA, IAB, Magnetic, Newsworks, Outsmart, Radiocentre and Thinkbox

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