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State of the Media - Michael Petersen - jfmedia

As a follow on to the State of the Media industry survey undertaken by MediaScope and TrinityP3, this new profile series asks marketers, media agencies & media sales specialists to comment on the issues and opportunities facing our general industry.

Here we profile Michael Petersen from Brisbane based premium ad sales agency - jfmedia.

Your Name:  Michael Petersen
Your Role:  Managing Director
Business Name:  jfmedia - premium adsales services
Tell us about yourself – how did you start in our industry and please outline your role?State of the Media Profile - Michael Petersen - jfmedia
By a thin thread, my wife Kate became the PA to Jane Fewings in 1999. Jane was a pioneer in the independent media sales industry in the late 70's. As an incredibly people-focussed saleswoman Jane amassed a diverse and high profile range of media under her representation over the following years, many of which we still represent today. Tragically, Jane passed away in mid 2003 and Kate stepped up officially as a Director and Shareholder with Jane's husband Graham. When we were planning to have a family, Kate really wanted as much time as possible to be at home after the births so I stepped from a career in recruitment to a brief stint at Seek and then into jfmedia. We bought the rest of the business in August 2008 (yes, I know, an awesome time to buy a media business...).

I've had a few roles from a Rep, to GM to now MD. My daily tasks revolve around senior BDM activities, communicating with our Media Owners and leading a small team of driven and professional women. As with any SME owner though, role titles really mean squat - you just do what you have to to see the business grow, your staff stay and thrive and you living the lifestyle you had anticipated.
For those of us not in the QLD market – please offer a general overview?

This market seems small enough to make interactions personal yet big enough to mean there are some relatively big clients, big budgets and big ideas. If about 8-9% of a media's sales are coming from Qld, they seem to be happy but it is a small enough number that I've found many media owners haven't yet worked out how to have quality, profitable representation here for the long term. Qld is such a geographically diverse place that I'm probably only speaking for SEQ though.

Please outline your view of our media industry – what state is it in?

Just when I start thinking that change is happening at a rapid pace, I have a conversation with my peers with 10+ years more experience and realise that change is the only constant in this game.

Currently, it appears that everyone is doing more work for the same or smaller % of the pie. Marketers seem to be given the same budget by their boards, the media agencies have to review a more diverse range of opportunities on where to invest their clients' money and we on the sales side of the equation find YOY numbers decreasing as the pie gets sliced into so many more pieces. That's probably nothing new though, I'm sure there has always been an increasing range of choices and no massive budget increases - I think it's the new-media players now who are eating into some of the media budgets that's cramping things up. This Google fella seems to eat a fair bit!
What are the day to day challenges you deal with?   

We're privately owned and operated so although we have marquee clients that we've been blessed with for anything up to 30years, we can add and delete other media to our representation as the market changes. We are proud of the stalwarts we have that have been providing returns for the advertisers for years, but the challenge for us is to not get caught up in the next hot 'media' to be sold.

Great ideas don't make money for us, it's ideas that people want to buy and that leverages existing relationships. Saying 'No' to a new media owner who has a great new advertising vehicle and is passionately trying to find someone to sell it for them, always makes me feel like an arrogant bugger.
What bigger picture challenges do you see for our industry? 

Understanding the 'Print Dollars and Digital Dimes' for traditional media owners would be the biggest issue for people like us as well as media owners themselves I'd suggest. Digital seems to be more time and labour consuming too for fewer $ so it's taken us about 18 months to create a model to crack that. Then you've got to add the Programmatic Trading future into that equation.

The issue of Perception vs Reality in the 'all metro press is dying' category or the 'no-one reads mags' belief is also a big challenge. Just depends which hill you want to die on.

For us, we're proud to have quality brands that can hold value but probably not a week goes by that I say 'I'm glad I'm not a publisher myself'.....
From your perspective in media sales what's it like dealing with media agencies and direct clients?  

That's a tricky one. We Rep a number of different media from a low staff base so we're geared towards selling to Agencies of all sizes in the Qld market. We can't just go immediately direct on one product when the interstate sales director wants us to because it can destroy the Agency relationship and therefore the opportunity for us to sell in another media owner we Rep. Thankfully we have a great market up in Qld. Our company seems to get a lot of respect from the Media Buyers, probably because we treat them the same way.

I've had two of the most experienced Media Agency people in our market tell my team to go direct to their clients if they or their team hasn't gotten back to us in a timely manner and after an adequate amount of follow up on our behalf. You can't just leave one phone message and one email and then have a tantrum and phone the marketing manager directly - heaven forbid the media you're calling about isn't a priority to the buyer right now. But you can expect a response in due course and when expressly asked for one.
No matter what side of the fence you're on, we're all busy these days but if you have something great to sell, that's easy to buy (justify/evaluate) and your price is reasonable and it fits with the current briefs then you should be right. If you don't Own or Rep or Work for a Media like that - go get one that is. 
What do you think the industry can do right now to address the challenges you raise?

It's got to come down to either consolidation or leverage or preferably a combination. God ain't giving us any more hours in the day so we as participants and businesses in this industry need to either bandy together to have multiple conversations at the same time or realise that someone is going to put us together (or get one party out of the picture) without our consent to allow consolidation to reduce time in processes. That's one of the great joys in our business model. We are already having daily conversations with some of Qld's best and brightest and we can allow smaller or not-yet-qld-focussed parties to leverage off of that by us representing them as well.  It saves the Media Buyers having to nod and smile about yet another southern Rep flying in once a quarter.
What good things do you see happening in our industry?   State of the Media Profile - Michael Petersen - jfmedia

Unless I'm completely sheltered, we're not at the extreme stages of the "Gifts for Bookings" fiasco that you read about in the USA, which is a great thing. Sure Marketing Managers love a few festival tickets from their Radio Rep, but some of the stuff you here about Limo rides round the city all night smashing the Bollinger just for the sake of it seems pretty tacky. I really appreciate the Charity focus that so many of the players up here have as does our local Brisbane Advertising Association.

Another good change is that the push for Sales Managers to be 'cross platform fit' should lead to better solutions being offered - but I've not yet seen a Salesforce serve multiple P&L Masters that well, regardless of the industry. It's great for diversifying the employees skillsets though.
How do you think our industry will evolve in 5 years time?

Realistically I'm only 5 years into ownership of a 30yr old company in this industry and it's already been a whirlwind. I can only guess at the next 5 years of change.

I'd be betting on, more software enabling more automation ensuring more quality conversations about big picture ideas and implementation leading to the day to day being processed offshore, paid offshore and collected offshore.........hopefully not designed and planned there though....

How do you keep up to date with the market – what trade media do you read?

Well that's a pointed and dangerous question ;-)  Of course I read anything that comes from Mediascope! Seriously though, I skim many things to find out what topics are relevant for my media owners, my advertisers and my business in the future. I've a goal to hit $10M in annual sales here by EOFY15 so we're in this mid space of representing some niche players hence many of the Mediascope topics are of interest but then also representing WAN and parts of Fairfax mean we're engrained in the traditional media buying and sales space as well so the oldies of B&T / Adnews are relevant and I got on the Mumbrella bandwagon some 4 years ago I think.

Now with us having a great range of Digital DSP offerings I get some awesome content from the USA & UK through the likes of eMarketer and Upstream Group. If I had to pick only two though it would be Mediascope and Mumbrella.


If you'd like to share your views through these State of the Media profiles (either anonymously or named) - please get in touch


Further Resources

  • State of the Media - follow on from The State of the Media research (co-produced by TrinityP3 & MediaScope & presented at Mumbrella360 in June) this new series aims to continue to raise awareness of the challenges facing the media industry...
  • MarketPlace - a growing range of selected products & services to help streamline & improve all aspects of the media trading process.
  • Women in Media Profiles - the most senior and experienced women in the media, marketing, publishing and advertising industry highlight their careers and what our industry can do better to support women and families.
  • Media Owner Profiles - we ask some of Australia's most successful media owners about running their business and ask them to offer advice to other media owners


Other Pages of Interest