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By: Peter Thomson, Co-Founder, The Press Business

Introduction by: Peter Marshall

In a post-COVID world, one of the key areas for companies will be how to manage their media budget allocation. It seems quite extraordinary that, in the case of Travel Retail, most companies do not employ the same tools that are used when assessing media opportunities for consumer media.

It’s time to change. Forget the cozy ‘old pals’ act, or inflation indexed appropriations which are just a sign of laziness. Instead, invite media organisations to supply real, independently audited data which gives you precisely the information you should be seeking if you are going to action and invest funds on a professional basis. And then apply the overlay of making judgement of the best quality editorial. In Travel Retail we all recognise the entrepreneurial media organisation that heads the pack, but it’s important to have a clear fix on all the players, including the regional specialists in order to make correct judgements.

If you don’t want to hear that from me, then read the blog below from Peter Thomson, one of the UK’s leading media specialists. You may not like what is being said, but you can’t ignore it. In a world where every penny spent now counts, you can at least consider what is recommended before you make your media commitments.

The blog itself is written in trunblocked.com’s sometime irreverent style, true, but the message beneath it is serious. The writer has drawn on his wealth of experience in planning and buying international and domestic media – both consumer and B2B. You can draw your own parallels for the aviation and travel retail business media.

For decades now, most of the planning and buying of B2B media has oscillated between the lazy and the disgraceful. There is no single reason why it has evolved this way, and the answer varies from client to client and (media) agency to agency.

For starters, it tends to be relatively small sums of money, certainly compared to consumer advertising budgets. Consequently it isn’t seen as particularly sexy. Certainly when it is outsourced to media agencies, the B2B campaigns tend to be planned and bought by the interns, the most junior members of staff, or the old lag who is waiting for his imminent retirement.

The planning tools are poor, so it is difficult to evaluate how much value in incremental coverage or coverage and frequency is being left on the table.

Finally, keeping it at best amateurish, has sort of suited both parties – the buyers and the sellers. Marketing teams know that if they
”bung a few quid” by buying some display space and possibly sponsoring a table at an Awards dinner, they will get a good night out, an invite to the magazines Golf day, and possibly a boozy lunch or two. On a more pragmatic level, it should ensure that the various trade titles continue to publish their PR puffery and, heaven forbid, refrain from doing some investigative journalism and printing anything negative about your organisation.

On one level this symbiotic relationship is fine, everyone has an easy life and you can even throw in a bit of fun. Surely it doesn’t matter, it is a victimless ”crime”.

Well it does matter. The UK economy, like others, has a light touch regulatory framework. Most industries are self-regulating. So if the trade press aren’t ensuring transparency or best practice, who is? The worrying answer is no one.

So, the COVID-19 induced pause in economic activity does gives us all a chance to recalibrate this relationship. Here are my guidelines:


Do not use the current Media Plan as the starting point for next year’s plan. Never ever!

What is our B2B budget? Last year’s budget plus 3% is almost certainly wrong.

Should we do this in-house or outsource it to a media agency?

Who precisely are our target audience? Are we sure?

How do we want them to feel? What action do we want them to take?

Do we have the best creative work to make this happen?

Can we do a coverage rank, composition rank, cost rank? Can we optimise our coverage and frequency (probably not).

Has the readership and circulation of the various ‘trade’ titles changed post-COVID-19? Can we reasonably insist on independently audited data across all media formats – not just print, but all web-based media, too? (Ed: we will now need to include Virtual Media).

Have we had a conversation with every candidate title? Have we briefed them on our objectives?

If there’s any money left over, who has the best Golf day!

Peter Marshall

Founder: trunblocked.com/Marshall Arts

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