A recent article in B-To-B Magazine shows how many publishing companies are getting into territory normally handled by ad agencies. The expanded offerings include online and word of mouth marketing services. This is getting traction in the business publication sector but consumer oriented pubs are going in that direction too. The trend appears to be that media companies are acquiring agencies with expertise in web site design & development, word of mouth marketing and PR.
This makes sense to me strategically so that publications can stay relevant to advertisers BUT will they cut off their nose to spite their face when ad agencies lose billable work because of it. Another questions is what are they doing to stay relevant to their readers? If you give advertisers more ways to reach readers, but don’t add any value to those readers, they’ll get annoyed and go away. The key to succcess here is for the pubs to be sure and increase value to readers, ESPECIALLY if you are giving advertisers more access to them.
I think the distinctions between between media companies and ad agencies will become less and less over time. Its a game of survival as advertisers continue to have more and more choices as to how they spend their marketing dollars. It will be intersting to see how this plays out.