Chris Botha. Picture: SUPPLIED
Chris Botha. Picture: SUPPLIED

In an already crowded and competitive local media agency market, any new operation is inevitably going to find it difficult.

But that’s not deterring The MediaShop, which has opened a new conflict business agency, Meta Media. This is all part of a major group restructuring under the name Park Advertising, which will house both operations.

A conflict business agency is designed to serve accounts or clients that compete with one another, to avoid conflicts of interest.

The MediaShop plans and buys for big blue-chip clients including the Shoprite Group, Tiger Brands and Old Mutual.

Chris Botha assumes the role of group MD of Park Advertising and will oversee the management operations of both businesses.

He says: "The MediaShop and Meta Media will operate independently of each other, in their own offices, with their own management team, directors and client bases. Meta Media will operate in Johannesburg and Cape Town."

The MediaShop will retain its level 1 BEE rating at 55% black ownership. Meta Media will also be a majority black-owned level 1 agency through the Interpublic Group SA’s local shareholding.

But the industry is asking if there is a profitable gap for another media player in SA.

Says Botha: "Meta Media will kick off with nearly R500m in billings and a team of 15 people. We believe there is space for an agency that is born in an era of data, information and science.

"We will be moving clients over from The MediaShop into Meta Media, but we are not in a position to disclose details at this time. We have engaged with these clients and the feedback has been positive."

Growth advantage

Botha believes Meta Media will give the group an advantage in allowing growth opportunity in the industry. "Growth in terms of new business and revenue streams, but also growth in terms of opportunities for the people the group employs. The world has changed, and communications groups cannot rely on ‘clients spending more money’ to grow. We need to evolve our offering, expand our footprint and look to grow in new areas."

Conflicting business, he says, will be managed through complete separation.

"Meta Media will have separate offices, separate directors, a separate executive committee and will be run as a completely separate business. The two agencies need to compete with each other, and stand on their own two feet. We are in the process of employing senior management for the new agencies."

One of the bigger problems for media agencies these days is finding skilled people in an era of data and programmatic buying.

Botha says: "The days of finding staff from our competitors are drawing to a close. For too long our industry has circulated mediocrity, instead of finding the best the world has to offer. Our group has in the past year employed actuarial students, marketing professionals, data scientists, media owners, creative talent, and has fished in a much wider pond.

"We believe the demands of a new industry cannot purely be met by the people of an old industry."

The global RECMA 2017 media agency evaluation table shows The MediaShop’s overall growth dropped by 3% in 2017, with a 16% market share compared with its closest rival, OMD, with a 21% share. The MediaShop employs about 175 people.