Campaign wins out over Marketing: today’s reality or publishing practicality?

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson, whose day job is professor of marketing at Melbourne Business School, has added his two-pennorth to the debate/bemusement around Haymarket’s decision to nix its Marketing, Brand Republic and Media Week entities and fold them all into Campaign.

Ritson (below), who wrote for Marketing before defecting to Centaur-owned Marketing Week a decade ago, points out that Marketing, among other things, targets a much larger group of business folk than Campaign, which concentrates on agencies of various hues. For most marketing people, he says, advertising and communications account for between five and ten per cent of their jobs. Far more important is the heavy lifting of research, product development, pricing and so on. So why fold Marketing into Campaign instead of the other way round? Media Week has been re-badged Campaign material for years now.

There are a number of possible reasons. Campaign is, as Ritson admits, a stronger brand than Marketing which laboured in Marketing Week’s shadow for years even though it pre-dated it. Both weekly titles (Marketing since reverted to monthly in print form) used to prosper mightily from job advertising with recruitment agencies willing to pay high premiums to reach their 40,000 or so readers. Both were controlled circulation.

That’s all gone with the advent of online where recruitment ads come at a tenth of the price, if you’re lucky. So maybe folding Marketing into Campaign is a cost-cutting exercise and all the talk – from Campaign – about creating a new communications power brand is smoke and mirrors.

Or maybe Haymarket has come to the correct conclusion that communications – or media – is where the game is these days. Advertising, after all, is a bigger industry than ever if you class Facebook, Google et al as advertising companies (it is where they make most of their money). These are the occupants of their own digital ‘walled gardens’ who, increasingly, create the agenda for even the world’s biggest advertisers. Marketing people may want to devote barely ten per cent of their time to dealing with communications but that’s no longer possible. Or sensible, anyway.

Adweek, a US rival to Campaign, says its business is “breaking news in advertising, media and technology.” Increasingly the ad trades see technology as the place where the money is. Which is presumably why Campaign editor Claire Beale says the future of advertising is all about ‘convergence.’ So is Beale right and Ritson wrong?

She might be. But it’s probably about cutting costs too.

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