19.12.2017, Luxembourg, RTL Group
As part of the publication Innovation@Bertelsmann Stéphane Coruble, Managing Director of RTL AdConnect, talks among others about the company’s growth and expansions plans and the idea behind the new name.
International advertising is not easy: The marketing managers of companies small and large constantly face the challenge of what form, what countries and what media they should market their new product to. From high-fidelity earphones to cars, to e-business to shower gel to cookies – the target groups for any given product are very heterogeneous and, in this age of burgeoning numbers of digital media, no longer can be reached on just one or two channels. That is why, in the case of total video ads, companies get support from advertising sales houses like IP Deutschland. The company, part of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, researches the best advertising options in each case and handles the bookings with TV broadcasters and online media. For their European advertising activities across country borders, RTL AdConnect offers advertisers the multinational advertising network of all eight of RTL Group’s European marketers. The RTL Group subsidiary was renamed based on the strategic rationale of facilitating advertising customers’ access to the advertising markets in other countries – on all channels and platforms.
“When I became the company’s Managing Director two years ago, it was already clear to us that a global repositioning of IP Network as the umbrella of our marketing and advertising sales activities would be necessary,” says Stéphane Coruble, CEO, RTL AdConnect. “Media use and the advertising market are subject to rapid change, to which we not only have to adjust, but also must join forces to actively attend to.” This led to the development of a new strategy called “GET 2020.” “GET” stands for “Growth” in other countries, “Expansion” to include new media for marketing, and the digital “Transformation” of the processes used – a strategy is gradually being implemented and that is already bearing first fruit.
“We mustn’t forget that RTL Group’s 56 TV channels and 31 radio stations alone already make us one of the strongest players in Europe’s advertising market,” says Coruble. “Add to that the growing reach of our many online channels and multiplatform networks, as well as the advertising technology of companies like SpotX, Smartclip, Clypd and Videoamp, with which we reach more and more users, more and more effectively. Our innovative approach revolves around combining all of this: pooling our expertise across company and country borders, and offering advertisers even better and more international solutions on more and more platforms.” The RTL AdConnect Managing Director says advertisers were pleased to hear this: “We involved them in our strategic planning right from the start and received valuable feedback.” Now customers have the option of gaining visibility for their advertising messages in other countries, with one booking and full transparency. “This helps them become a more international player, at least within Europe,” says Coruble. “We leverage the power of RTL Group and its units – both in terms of content and by using the name,” he says, explaining why the new strategic approach was accompanied by the name change. “The new name expresses more specifically than before what RTL AdConnect is and does,” says Coruble. The “RTL” component takes advantage of the RTL brand’s high level of international recognition. “Ad” stands for “advertising,” but also for “added value” for all customers. “Connect” represents the network character of RTL AdConnect’s pool of international media partners, as well as its role in connecting the advertising industry with viewers, listeners, users and consumers, also and especially in the digital world.
RTL AdConnect As a Kind of “One-Stop Shop”
RTL Ad Connect gives its customers, including top 40 advertisers, uncomplicated access to the advertising market in other countries – which is managed by experienced local colleagues. “We work hand in hand with RTL Group’s local advertising sales organisations. Our aim is to send them additional business,” Coruble emphasises. He believes that while that advertising sales now happens on an increasingly global scale, it can only be successful with local expertise. “Google and Facebook advertise products in the digital world – consistently, around the globe. We are in competition with each other – and can now powerfully stand our ground with the RTL AdConnect network,” says Coruble. “We speak with one voice for our entire portfolio and offer our customers a simple solution for their advertising in audiovisual as well as digital media – they also receive only one invoice from us. RTL AdConnect acts as a kind of one-stop shop and a guiding light for easy access to more than 100 TV channels – including RTL Group’s channels and other media partners like ITV in the UK, Medialaan in Belgium, Atresmedia in Spain or RAI in Italy. In addition, there are 30 radio formats, as well as 300 online video platforms, which we market as a whole, also beyond our own channels, including YouTube channels and multiplatform networks like StyleHaul with their many influencers. So, we offer our customers a very attractive package.” And what a package it is! The advertising sales houses’ portfolio collectively generates more than 32 billion online video views … per month. The potential reach of a commercial is some 160 million people.
Coruble figures that it will of course be a while before all advertisers are aware of RTL AdConnect’s new transnational, cross-media offer, but he is sure that the extensive portfolio and well-thought-out strategy behind RTL AdConnect will ultimately win companies over. They are already indicating that they are surprised – in a good way – and welcome the fact that the positioning of their advertising on all RTL Group channels, whether on TV or online, is subject to strict quality requirements. That is not necessarily a given on the Internet. “With us, no company runs the risk of advertising in a difficult or completely unacceptable environment, which can be the result of the near-uncontrolled publication of text, pictures or videos on online platforms,” says Coruble. In this connection, RTL AdConnect guarantees “brand safety”; that is, the preservation of an advertising company’s good name.
RTL AdConnect has a lot of plans for the future. In line with the “GET” strategy, the plan is to open up markets in new countries – keyword “growth” – for the company’s own broadcasters, as well as for advertising customers. For instance, RTL AdConnect plans to soon open offices in Poland and Turkey. The respective contacts will work to facilitate contact with companies who wish to advertise in RTL Group channels’ programming. Gruner + Jahr also has ad sales offices in those countries, which opens up further possibilities for collaboration. RTL AdConnect has the United States and Asia in its sights – after all, companies there are keen to showcase their products on European TV programs and online platforms as well. By the same token, cooperation with broadcasters in countries where RTL Group itself is not active makes it easier for advertisers to access these key markets. Examples include ITV in the United Kingdom and RAI in Italy. RTL AdConnect is still looking for partners in Poland and Scandinavia. “We have to fish where the fish are,” says Coruble.
New ways to optimise profits on advertising
RTL AdConnect is also increasingly expanding its portfolio with new ways of profitably optimising advertising – keyword “expand.” “From websites and catch-up TV to multiplatform networks and programmatic online videos, today’s options for placing commercials are more varied than ever before,” says Coruble, adding that this is accompanied by digital “transformation” – the last letter from the strategy title “GET.” RTL Group’s various IT service providers offer sophisticated mechanisms to target the playout of ads as precisely as possible to viewers or users – a business that is growing rapidly and which he is certain will accelerate further. Coruble confirms that the transformation to digital is definitely a challenge for his own employees. RTL AdConnect currently employs about 50 people in eight countries. “We conduct a lot of training to strengthen their digital skills, so that they can form an even more effective team together with new employees who already have the salient knowledge. This enables them to complete the overall picture we want to convey with our company’s repositioning and new brand image: being the best pan-European partner for Total Video campaigns.”