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Consumer media cases

The media sector is in an unprecedented period of change making it exhilarating and challenging in equal measure. We work across all media and project types, advising at corporate, operating and divisional levels for national and international clients in every sector of the media. With a clear focus on growth, Ocean advises on organic and acquisitive strategies, and our projects often encompass high impact areas such as advertising and pricing strategies.

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How can my magazine brand thrive in a digital world?

A leading global media group approached Ocean with a big question - is the digital opportunity for print brands a pipedream, or can we find concrete, high value and profitable opportunities? We worked with a wide range of managers from different divisions of the group, identifying a number of key long-term developments offering high value potential where the client had a clear advantage. We then developed a detailed plan to transform the content and distribution of the print-based brand to meet these opportunities, which included both linear and user-specified mobile, online and broadcast platforms. The resulting investment plan was enthusiastically adopted by the client's Board.

Am I charging the right price for advertising?

When the steam ran out of market growth for a leading regional newspaper group, they asked Ocean to assess their advertising pricing in a single local marketplace. We found a pricing model set back in the mists of time, and pricing levels which made little sense in the marketplace. By analysing internal sales data and interviewing customers, Ocean was able to build a model of key pricing decisions and their impact on the client's performance. We then developed a number of improvements to the pricing model and level and, with the client, created a detailed implementation plan. In a tough market, with no organic growth, the client was able to secure growth of over 10% in revenues, mostly falling straight to the bottom line.

I have a brilliant multi-platform model. How can I export it?

Our client had developed an extremely successful TV game show model, generating not only significant broadcast rights but creating a franchise with revenues from mobile and online gaming, premium content and merchandise. While they had successfully translated the model into a handful of adjacent Western European markets, they did not have the resource or expertise to drive an accelerated roll-out. Ocean developed a data-driven approach which ranked over 50 international markets according to their profit-generating potential, then identified the optimal broadcast partners for each target market. The client was able to establish a virtually global presence very rapidly, maximising its profits from a potentially short-lived product.

Can I leverage my international footprint?

While most of this TV broadcaster's competitors were national, it owned the number two station across the economic region. With advertising traded at a national level, it was unable to use this potential advantage. Ocean assessed the potential outcome of a pan-regional sales operation targeting those customers with decision-making perspectives across the region. Using our extensive network, we were able to interview a large proportion of the potential customer base, and identified a segment where the client's reach could be used effectively. We then developed a pricing model and sales structure to target this segment.

Does changing distribution mean I need to change the way I use my content

Our client, a global content brand, faced a difficult choice as digital television rapidly developed across Europe. Should it remain focused on a single channel brand, or take advantage of the increased ‘shelf space' by segmenting its content into niche channels? Ocean addressed this question by analysing distribution and advertising dynamics and by building case studies of content owners and broadcasters facing similar dilemmas. The key, however, lay in our understanding of consumer behaviour, where an innovative research programme identified a clear preference for the ‘broad church' of the umbrella brand. Once we had uncovered the extent to which the brand created, rather than fed, its market segment, we were able to focus the client on development of the core with a small number of spin-off channels to add value for digital viewers.

Consumers seem to be changing the way they make decisions - is this an opportunity or a threat?

‘Traditional' forecasting techniques based on macro drivers and advertiser analysis had failed to persuade this leading multinational print and online media player that it really understood how its market was likely to evolve. They commissioned Ocean to undertake a consumer-based analysis of purchasing decisions. This unique methodology identified a number of inefficiencies in the information flow from advertiser to consumer. This not only gave a new insight into the potential threat from new entrant competitors, but was able to highlight concrete opportunities for the client's new product development programme.

Business & professional

The business & professional sector requires particular skills and expertise which Ocean has in abundance. Our consultants and industry experts have high level international industry experience with some of the world's leading players and have advised many of the market leaders in the sector. Ocean is building a strong reputation in this area with projects reflecting the transformational state of the sector.

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My users seem to be moving online - how do I maintain my market position?

Like many B2B publishers, this client was strongly dependent on recruitment advertising, where it had supplied the leading platform for its vertical for many years. However, in recent years, a plethora of websites had entered the market, and audience data suggested that usage of these sites was high. Ocean put together a thorough programme of analyses to understand the behaviour of job-seekers and recruiters and build dynamic market maps of the various segments served. In doing so we were able to segment the market in a way which clarified the client's market position and the threats and opportunities it faced. From this we were able to build a strategy delivering above-market growth in both print and online, as well as a platform for the development of new products and services.

New types of competitors are threatening my business - what should I do?

Like many providers of specialist information, this client's traditional competitors had recently been joined by threats from new entrants such as Google, and new business models such as Open Access. Based on a thorough analysis of these new competing models, we assessed each of them by simply asking: Which customer compromises does the new model break? By carefully developing the answers and thereby evaluating where the real threats lie, we constructed the optimal response together with our client.

My competitors are also my key distributors - how can I protect and improve my market power?

Like many of Ocean's projects, the understanding of the customers, their needs and key purchasing criteria were crucial in developing a recommendation for our client. On the back of more than 40 key customer interviews worldwide, detailed sales data analysis and distribution channel reviews, we proposed to reduce the number of distributors significantly and to develop the client's own customer interaction, particularly in segments poorly served by the distributors. The recommendations were clearly developed with an eye to cost, risks and upside potential and presented in a business plan to the Board.

We have the online market but most of the money is still in print - how do we accelerate migration?

In this market, online has not really taken off in spite of a positive reception from the converted customers. Early in the process Ocean identified that pricing could be used as a strategic tool to drive online migration both by differing the offer to various customer segments (‘slicing and dicing') and by introducing attractive online/print bundle pricing to current print customers. The resulting migration improved immediately and contributed net positively to revenue and profitability. In particular the development of tailored offerings (based on customer need analysis) to various customer segments was highly successful. The second stage - changing the pricing model by introducing a usage element to certain segments - could result in even bigger benefits for our client.

Where should we go next?

Our client held strong market positions within its vertical in four geographies. With ambitious growth plans, they wanted to find new geographical markets in which they could develop their products. Ocean undertook a two-stage process - firstly establishing the benefits of increased geographical spread by assessing the value of different scale factors in the client's market, and by interviewing advertisers and other customers to understand potential multi-market benefits. Having established this potential, we then built a model combining a number of attractiveness factors to identify the highest-yielding new markets. Finally we developed a concrete market entry plan showing the preferred route (launch, buy, JV etc) into the most attractive geographies.

We are not reaching our online growth goals?

What can we do to improve performance?With a focus on customers three action areas were identified: Align pricing with customers' willingness to pay, develop a pricing model that is easy to manage and set uniform expectation levels, and align the online offering with customers' needs. We developed a solution that could be implemented knowing the constraints in the systems and the need for consistent management of a large sales force. An online pricing model based on an easily available parameters (number of professionals) was used. The change in pricing model and level was combined with the introduction of a significantly improved service (tailored to the various customer segments) resulting in a number of new customers, a happy sales force and much improved financial results.

M & A

The private equity community is among the most challenging of clients expecting rigour, insight and rapid turnaround as standard. Ocean works with many of the leading firms with interest in the media sector and has undertaken a wide range of strategic due diligences and post acquisition implementation as well as deal development activity.

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Can we quickly understand the potential for a newspaper group in three different countries?

We worked with a specialist investor to assess the value of a newspaper group with strong but diverse positions in three European countries. Ocean was able to ‘hit the ground running' in these three markets, using our network and insights to quickly gain a thorough understanding of the competitive environment. With a thorough assessment of threats and opportunities for the business, and a risk assessment of profit improvement options, Ocean's due diligence was the cornerstone in making this a step-change acquisition for our client.

The target has an extremely fragmented portfolio - where is the real value?

This privatisation was a complex mix of media products in different markets and verticals. With extremely limited vendor information, Ocean was able to use its experience and deep market knowledge to build a strong understanding of the competitive environment based entirely on external sources. This early-stage insight gave our client a key advantage as the process progressed.

We are happy that the target has a good market position - but can it extend into new revenue streams?

This potential acquisition seemed to tick all the boxes in terms of its ability to achieve the levels of advertising and subscription revenues a potential buyer might look for. Ocean worked towards the target's ‘full potential' by undertaking an assessment of new revenue strategies tried by similar companies across Europe. The case studies developed in this analysis covered everything from new consumer-based or advertiser-based sales strategies through to digital product development and radical value chain moves. By doing so, then applying the potential to the target and its market place, we were able to construct a robust upside case which transformed the deal's attractiveness.

We are strong in Asia - how do we get a leading position in Europe?

Our client had been a key driver of the explosion in mobile premium content in Asia, and wanted to explore potential international expansion. Ocean developed a clear and detailed market map which identified the structure, dynamics and participants, then identified potential acquisition strategies to establish a position. The key to this work was to identify the point in the value chain where the most sustainable position could be found, in markets quite different in structure and lifestage from those in which the client already operated. Having agreed the optimal strategy with the client, we then developed a detailed entry plan including targeting and strategic rationale for specific acquisitions.

The target is strategically well-placed - but are the fundamentals right?

This small acquisition was seen as a potential buy-and-build opportunity by a private equity client. While Ocean's work confirmed the potential in this strategy, we also focused on the opportunity to improve the position and performance of the target if no further acquisition opportunities emerged. The results of this analysis were key in reassuring the banks that the deal had a sound basis.

The figures look great, but is the whole business at risk?

This large B2B player was active in just one vertical in one market. A key sensitivity was the potential for an aggregator to combine the buying power of the target's customers, and potentially move their activity to a new platform. While this scenario would put the target's entire business model at risk, Ocean's detailed analysis of the target's customers (both end-users and advertisers) revealed that the value added by the target was in fact extremely difficult to recreate, and that the motivation for customers to find a substitute was very low. Armed with the comfort that this key risk factor was extremely unlikely to happen, our client was able to proceed with the process.

Specialist media services

As a consultancy specialising in media, working with senior executives across the industry, we are often asked to undertake work which does not fit into the usual consulting project profile. When this happens we use our experience and flexibility to tailor a specialist service.

There is no such thing as a typical assignment - simply an unwavering focus on seeking out answers from the market. Ocean expertise covers the full range of tools and skills necessary for high quality market insight - including research management, performance measurement, benchmarking, customer feedback and market assessments.

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Does our trading currency work in a media-neutral world?

Most audience measurement systems were designed to measure usage of a single medium. Our client was the committee formed from key industry figures, running one such survey - who were keen to ensure their product was developing in line with customer needs, as well as fulfilling the (not always aligned!) objectives of their members. Ocean undertook a major consultation exercise across the key constituent groups, as well as a study to analyse and understand usage, and to map out the survey's position in its ‘competitive' environment against the growing number of media information sources. Our recommendations were radical, but enthusiastically adopted.

We think we are doing the right things, but what effect is it having?

New strategies or initiatives often take some time to filter through to the P&L. Ocean has developed a sophisticated performance measurement service. A marketing body set up to put forward the best case for a medium, asked Ocean to devise such a service to assess its performance. With even the best efforts taking several years to turn around the ‘super tanker' of an entire medium's market share, Ocean developed an integrated ‘score card' based on ‘hard' measures such as revenue and share as well as ‘softer' ones such as the opinion of key customer groups captured through regular research. We then correlate and link these factors so that, over time, we can see than shifts in perception/opinion will flow to changes in advertiser spend.

One of my brands is not generating the revenue it should - why?

Media owners often have internal benchmarks to measure the performance of their products. Our radio client had a channel with revenue metrics consistently lagging its stable mates. Ocean's challenge was to quickly assess whether this was down to its audience profile or its sales activity. We carried out in-depth interviews with staff and advertising customers and quickly established that the sales approach wasn't correctly communicating the channel's position to the highest value advertiser group. Working with management, we implemented a re-structuring of the sales team, with a different customer focus and new sales collateral.

Can we generate new revenues from our audience?

While advertisers are audience-centric, media owners tend to be product-focused. We have worked with many broadcasters, publishers and other media to look at their audience value through the advertisers' eyes, and develop new sales strategies and packages to monetise value. One such example was a B2B publisher with products in several key verticals. Ocean assessed the potential for a ‘horizontal' package which combined the vertical audiences for a general business advertising sector. This was brought to life by developing significant added value through unique marketing channels and platforms provided for these advertisers. Ocean worked with the client CEO to develop the business plan and Board buy-in, and then implement the initiative.

Are we selling to the right people?

Many media sales markets have focused on the ‘trading' environment - with media owners targeting most of their resources on those actually making the transaction - typically buyers in media agencies. Ocean has worked with a major media group in mapping out a ‘Strategic Sales' process, whereby the decision-making chain for each advertising campaign is broken down into its key elements, and critical decision points (marketing strategy, choice of channel, choice within channel etc) identified. This process results in a generic Marketing Value Chain where the highest impact stages can be clearly defined, and the key decision-makers and influencers targeted. Working with the client, we then re-shaped their sales team to optimise the impact made on the market.

"I'm in charge - now what?

"New CEOs and other business leaders often come to Ocean with an open brief to set the agenda at the start of their tenure. With one such client we quickly (within a week!) anonymously interviewed most of his firm's key customers to establish the critical business issues facing the market. We then set up a workshop to identify a six-month programme to introduce new initiatives which would re-position the company and give the internal team an opportunity to re-engage with the market. This work did not replace the CEO's own interaction with his customers, but allowed him to rapidly focus on the key issues.