MEDIA: The European perspective - Pan-European media is attractive for its access to an upmarket business audience. Andy Fry sees how the sector is selling itself

Most people, most of the time, choose to read or watch their own domestic media. But there are times when people want or need a more international perspective - and this has enabled pan-European print and television products to prosper.

Most people, most of the time, choose to read or watch their own

domestic media. But there are times when people want or need a more

international perspective - and this has enabled pan-European print and

television products to prosper.

For the print sector, pan-European publishing has primarily meant

targeting an international business audience with English-language


While titles such as Time, Newsweek, The Economist, International Herald

Tribune (IHT), the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Europe

may differ in their editorial scope, they all describe their target

audience as ’upscale, influential, affluent and frequent


Weekly magazine Time, with a European circulation of around 550,000, is

one of the largest titles in the pan-regional marketplace. International

advertising sales manager Richard Joyce says: ’We reach an

opinion-forming audience who have a high income and an international

outlook. That is what appeals to our advertisers.’

The IHT’s ad director, Beverly MacMillan, makes a similar claim for her

newspaper, which is currently selling 143,755 a day in Europe. ’We are

writing for internationalists who travel frequently on business - 82% of

them hold senior management positions which means they really can

influence business affairs.’

The same trend is apparent among the most elite titles. WSJ Europe,

which sells 66,000 a day in Europe, claims that 89% of its readership

works for companies involved in international business. Forty-nine per

cent of them stayed more than 20 nights in a hotel on business in the

last year.

The similarity in the emphasis of these titles suggests that, for

publishers, there is no truly pan-European market among the general


The European has discovered this to its cost. Under the weekly

newspaper’s current owners, the Barclay Brothers, Robert Maxwell’s

original ill-fated attempt to reach Europe’s equivalent of middle

England has been jettisoned in favour of a more highbrow approach.

Head of marketing services Julie Ferguson says: ’Until July of last

year, The European was a general interest broadsheet, but it was

increasingly clear that there was not really a market for that product.’

As a result, editor-in-chief Andrew Neil began to create what Ferguson

calls ’a viewspaper aimed at the movers and shakers of corporate


Catering to the market

The European is now an A3 stitched-and-trimmed magazine which purports

to be closer to The Economist and Business Week in its editorial

objectives. According to Ferguson: ’We are beginning to see a

significant change in profile toward higher-income readers.’

Despite such claims, a great deal of uncertainty hangs over The

European, with the Barclay Brothers and chief executive Bert Hardy

threatening to close the paper unless a buyer is found within 90


Negotiations with financial information group Bloomberg stalled last

week although Time Warner is still touted as a possible buyer.

Meanwhile, at The Economist, all is well. Marketing director Andrew

McGregor says that the magazine is currently selling 115,000 in the UK

and 140,000 in mainland Europe. Like the others, it professes to reach

’decision-makers in business’. McGregor adds: ’We provide wide and

non-partisan coverage of international affairs which is the motivation

for purchase in many territories.’

The Economist is broader in its ambition than the FT and WSJ Europe, but

not as general as Time and Newsweek. According to McGregor, it reaches

an audience that is interested in economic globalisation. ’People will

buy us for our global coverage. If Asian business hiccups or if the US

asset bubble looks like it is about to burst, people turn to The


While all of these above titles are looking for broadly similar readers,

there is a diversity of views on how best to serve them. The Economist,

FT, WSJ and IHT all publish in English and see no reason to go to the

extra expense of specific-language editions. However, the two big

circulation titles, Time and Newsweek, have both taken steps to try to

get closer to the European market.

Newsweek sells 1.2 million copies a week outside the US, of which

two-thirds is made up of three English-language editions. In addition,

it has launched publishing joint ventures in Russian, Spanish, Greek,

Korean and Japanese.

The Russian venture involves collaboration with Russian multimedia

company, The Most Group. The Greek language title Tempo/Newsweek is a

more recent arrival which currently has a circulation of about 30,000 a


Adapting to the client base

By contrast, Time has not published non-English editions for fear of

losing editorial control. But it has made a serious investment in


’The biggest change for us in Europe came in autumn 1996,’ says


’We decentralised the international editions out of New York and set up

separate editorial teams in locations such as London. We still view

ourselves as a global news magazine, but are now producing a title that

is more relevant for Europeans.’

With the overall bias toward an upscale multinational readership, the

type of advertisers who take space is somewhat predictable. The

Economist’s McGregor could be speaking for all the titles when he says:

’We reach people who have both large corporate budgets and high

disposable income. So that gives us access to categories such as

business travel, banking and automotive as well as lifestyle brands like

Armani and Boss.’

Securing such a client base obviously requires advertisers to be geared

up for regional marketing campaigns. However, it also requires effort on

the part of the media owners to adapt to their requirements.

Some of the above titles trade off the prestige of their international

profile, but actually sell ad space nationally. This tends to be true of

the larger circulation titles. As the IHT’s MacMillan points out, such

an approach does not necessarily make sense for a title like the IHT

which sells just 14,000 in the UK.

Time, however, is in an advantageous position of being big and also

belonging to a massive cross-media empire. As part of Time Warner, it is

a sister company of Fortune magazine, CNN and web site CNN Interactive

which attracts 11 million unique users every month.

This muscle is currently being used to support a multimedia editorial

project called Visions of Europe which will look at the political,

social and economic prospects for the continent. The project, which is

to be launched in December, will encompass a special issue of Time, a

report in Fortune, themed television shows on CNN and pages of the web


Six sponsors are being sought and so far BMW has signed up.

The small screen approach

In the pan-European television market, the three main areas of activity

which seem to be viable are news, sport and music.

The news arena has no less than five players (six if you include Sky

News which is primarily a UK-based service). According to the latest

European Media and Marketing Survey (May 14 1998), CNN International is

by far the biggest player in this league, with a daily reach of 1.46

million viewers. Euronews reaches 1.03 million, BBC World 219,000, CNBC

146,000 and Bloomberg 122,000.

The most important development at CNNI has been a move to make its

schedule more relevant to a European audience. This has involved

creating dedicated news feeds from London and Berlin and producing

regular feature programming slots on style, business, music and arts for

the European audience. Later this year sees the launch of CNN


The response in revenue terms has been dramatic, according to senior

vice-president of advertising sales, Turner Broadcasting Europe, Eric

Clemenceau, who says ad revenue is up 66% year on year.

Like the print titles, CNNI emphasises its reach among ABC1s and

business travellers. However, Clemenceau is also quick to note that,

’70% of our audience is watching us at home. Being able to offer

advertisers an AB audience at home and while travelling is


Clemenceau believes that the combination of a global network and

increasing regional relevance is the key to winning clients. ’More and

more companies recognise the need to have a global strategy,’ he says.

’But they still want to communicate different messages in different

parts of the world. We have to offer the right proposition whether it is

global, regional, domestic or the internet.’

At first sight, this focused approach seems to fly in the face of the

pan-European model. However it is also at the heart of MTV Europe’s


’A few years ago MTV Europe was a single broadcaster,’ says senior

vice-president Simon Lewis. ’Now we have invested in technology that

provides customised programme feeds for the UK and three other parts of


Not only that, but there are separate advertising windows for Holland,

Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Scandinavia and the


’Our long-term view was that it was important to have two sides to our

business,’ says Lewis, ’though it is our international flavour which

distinguishes MTV Europe from rivals.’

Lewis has seen a similar pick up in business to that of CNN. ’We have a

lot of pan-European advertisers who find us to be a cost-effective way

to reach a pure 16- to 24-year-old audience,’ he says. ’But there are

companies which, while they value MTV, have more regional needs. Maybe

they want to use different creative work or time product launches

differently in different countries. Now they can.’ The existence of an

Eastern European window also allows emerging businesses in that region

to cut out a lot of wastage.

Eurosport, the other major pan-European proposition, benefits from the

fact that sport transcends borders. As a result, its own commitment to

regionalisation has been limited to different language feeds.

Eurosport’s ad director Tom Keaveney claims that the channel is

different to genre-specific networks like MTV and CNN because it reaches

all age and social demographics through the scheduling of different

sports. ’Because we don’t just reach youth or business audiences, we

sell our inventory in the way Channel 4 or ITV might,’ says Keaveney.

’We can go for the likes of McDonald’s or Nokia. One day we have a

baseball cap on, the next day it’s a bowler hat.’

More research still required

Keaveney believes economic developments will boost pan-European


’EMU will be a catalyst for us. When the television ratecard is in

euros, companies are going to have to rationalise on that basis. We are

also seeing a trend toward centralised buying which I think benefits

pan-European media.’

Carat International head of research Jane Turner shares the view that

pan-European media is ’gaining credibility with some clients’. However,

she believes the quality of research for this market is still an


Turner believes that the industry measure - the European Media Survey -

is too broad in its coverage to give a proper breakdown of upscale

audiences in the print sector. She also regards the TV arena as ’very

under-researched and difficult to evaluate’.

Eurosport’s Keaveney defends his channel by pointing to the

sophistication of its research panel analysis, a point that Turner

accepts. However, she says: ’The problem comes if you want to use

Eurosport as part of a mixed schedule with other networks.’

CNNI’s Clemenceau comments: ’EMS was a huge step forward but the

agencies are spending such big sums of money now that they want more

concrete information about the medium.’

As a result, seven broadcasters including CNNI, BBC World and CNBC have

contracted RSL to conduct a more sophisticated study with a view to

producing clearer information.

TIME: Currently sells 550,000 copies in Europe and has no desire to

increase that figure much. It could pump up the circulation in Eastern

Europe but that would dilute the offering to advertisers. Recent clients

include Ericsson, Rolex, Omega, General Motors, BMW, Cathay Pacific,

IBM, Singapore Airlines, Compaq, Nokia, BT, France Telecom and


NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL: Sells 1.2 million copies - 67% of which are in

English. Local-language editions means NI can target local ads but it

also chases the same international clients as Time. NI has a rudimentary

web site which includes spots for clients such as Cathay Pacific, Canon,

IBM, AT&T and Heineken. NI has jointly designed web sites with clients

like Singapore Tourist Board.

THE EUROPEAN: Circulation from July-December 1997 was 132,896 - 36% of

which was in the UK. The title is A3 and the format of the paper has

meant that it secures poor slots in the newsagents (sometimes among the

racing papers). If the Barclay Brothers hold on to it, they may relaunch

it in an A4 format.

Recent advertisers have included The World Wildlife Fund for Nature,

Ericsson and Fujitsu.

THE ECONOMIST: Sales of 115,000 issues a week in the UK and 140,000 in

mainland Europe. It is planning a burst of promotional investment in the

near future. Typical advertiser categories include business travel,

banking and automotive and brands like Armani and Boss. Economic

globalisation dominates the editorial agenda, targeting business


IHT: Sells 143,755 copies a day in Europe - or 69% of its global

circulation. The UK accounts for just 14,671 sales. Cover price is 90p.

Typical advertisers include watches, fashion brands like Chanel, mobile

phones, airlines and hotels and similar premium products. Unlike some of

its competitors, the IHT does not usually sell ad space on a national


WSJ EUROPE: Sells 66, 657 copies a day and has an average readership of

5.5 people per copy. Sales have grown 70% in ten years. Copies are

printed in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Clients include a

range of upscale corporate advertisers seeking an AB business


CNN INTERNATIONAL: European service (which also covers Africa and the

Middle East) now reaches 100 million homes.

Typically it gets six million viewers a week. It targets advertisers who

are seeking an upscale business audience. CNN is actively targeting

Europe with London and Berlin feeds.

EUROSPORT: Is distributed to 77 million European homes. During the

recent World Cup it had an audience reach of 107 million. Its most

popular sports outside major world events are the likes of indy car and


Advertisers include Adidas, McDonald’s, Gillette, Hyundai, Konica,

Daewoo and Buena Vista.

MTV EUROPE: Reaches 60 million homes in 42 European territories.

In the UK, it attracts a 1% share of viewing in multichannel homes - an

improvement on last year thanks to its UK-dedicated feed. Advertisers

include Adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Diesel, Levi’s, Pepsi and Reebok.

Customised feeds serve different markets.

CNBC: Late last year, CNBC merged with the television interests of WSJ

owner Dow Jones. This included the struggling European Business Network.

Today, CNBC reaches around 770,000 viewers a week across Europe.

It is undertaking research into the medium to improve targeting.


Because I work in pan-European media, my consumption pattern is not

typical because I tend to read or watch things to see who is advertising

or because they are my clients. Forbes Magazine, for example, is a


And I would look at the WSJ or Time as a professional working in the


If I am going abroad, I always look for BBC World because I don’t see it

at home. Normally at home I start the day with Radio 4’s Today programme

- so if I am staying abroad in a hotel I have breakfast in the room and

look for whatever news channel is available.

I don’t read anything on the way to airports because I feel sick if I

read in a moving vehicle. At the airport, I might read The Times, The

Guardian or the FT to get up to speed. The IHT is one of my clients, so

if I haven’t already seen it, I will read that. If I am on a short trip

to somewhere like Paris I would look at BA’s inflight magazine to check

the ads.

Because of my job, I get The Economist at home. I do watch some VH1, but

not MTV because I am a bit too old for that market. My husband watches

Eurosport occasionally but I’m not so interested. I also watch CNN and

CNBC for the ads. We have used CNBC for clients like Philips, but I

haven’t seen it in a lot of hotels.

Jane Turner is head of research at Carat International.


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