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Q&A: James Weatherill, Head of B2B at Mindshare

James Weatherill, Head of B2B at Mindshare is speaking at our B2B Conference on 14 March – last chance to book.

James Weatherill
How are agencies servicing their international client bases and how does it differ from the servicing of their UK clients? Both locally and globally, we increasingly see ourselves as moving beyond the confines of a traditional agency – becoming more of a lead business partner for our clients – beyond media, we’re becoming more and more like a business consultancy You can really improve efficiency for your client’s business with a globalised approach – and most major companies are now aspiring to adopt one, if they haven’t already. Still it’s not without challenges - it can be seen as being imposed from outside and restrictive, and you need buy-in from each local office to make it work. Another bone of contention can be around budgeting, and the variation between local and international restrictions, while strength locally can vary – in response, we’ve built up a system of best practice to share local learnings throughout the group. Are the countries at the top of the European ad market changing? The ‘big 5’ in Europe effectively isn’t really the big 5 anymore. We have seen changes in our clients target market priorities, possibly due to the economic situation in Italy and Spain, these countries are starting to be replaced by some of the more emerging markets such as Russia, South Africa, Netherlands and the Nordics, where there is a progressive opportunity to make money. Where should your B2B publisher partners be investing their time/money to develop in terms of processes, skills and sophistication in selling? We all need to differentiate, so I would encourage AOP members to think creatively about content – and look at flexible ways of aggregating it. For example, share content with other publishers to reach breadth and scale and take a lead in giving content a wider reach. Collaboration between publishers can create exciting hybrid buying models. To protect against economic pressures and reduce risk, B2B publishers should also look outside the UK to other native English and other European markets. The way the web is, content can now be shared more broadly via social media and a UK-only view is starting to look a little short-sighted. As a globalised agency, this kind of approach has obvious appeal to us, and I would say that short of actually translating the language of the content, certain content types have international appeal, and syndicating virally appealing content is a real untapped opportunity. Another relevant area of focus is data and our increasing ability to harness this across the consumer journey. Take advertising. Via Adaptive Marketing advertisers can now optimize both their media and creative to ensure consumers are getting more relevant content both online and offline. Publishers will need to explore their own internal processes to enable them to respond with a media model that facilitates this change. Can B2B publisher truly act as agencies themselves, ie. selling big clients bespoke products or solutions? What are the barriers or risks to this? I think this question would be better answered by the publisher themselves, as it would be a shift in their business model to offer such services. In some cases there are clients who enjoy a very direct relationship with publishers and Mindshare encourages this and mediates the discussion, to ensure both parties win. Where publishers offer a very niche product and own a specific territory, then I can see how a direct relationship could be successful. Our aim at Mindshare is to develop deep insights on our clients target audiences which allows us to evaluate the consumer journey and media approach very objectively. How do you view the development of paid content in the future? For me, paid content is important because it can raise the overall value of content in the market. Paid-for components could also be an excellent way of delivering more detailed audience information. If the amount of paid content out there increases, in my view perceptions of its value will vary even more widely. My gut feeling is that the content will have to be of higher quality than what’s out there at the moment. Going forward, there may also be an issue in the amount of content which is gated – I believe users can become frustrated, when faced with too many sign-ups across different sites. Especially on mobile, where registration is more cumbersome, there could be a downward spiral. From that perspective, charging for apps on iTunes, for instance, makes a lot more sense, because the payment process is so much easier.

James is speaking at our B2B Conference on 14 March – last chance to book.

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