MEDIA: MARKETING ON-LINE - Media sets its sites on fresh markets After its glorious arrival as the saviour of free speech, the internet is rapidly descending into the same sort of cut-throat battleground that exists in any commercial market.

The financial sites are struggling for users and content, travel sites battle for cheap seats and fashion sites battle to stem their losses.

The financial sites are struggling for users and content, travel sites battle for cheap seats and fashion sites battle to stem their losses.

But this month, an entirely new sector went seriously on-line with the Guardian launching its media site.

The cruel commercial reality is that the Guardian went on-line to protect the vast revenue stream from Monday's Media Guardian advertising. The newspaper group has a keen eye on the plans by Haymarket to launch a site called Brand Republic aimed at readers of its marketing magazines Campaign, Marketing, Revolution, Campaign Media Business, and, of course, PR Week.

Industry rumour suggests the two may even have planned a joint site at some point, although negotiations are said to have fallen down.

The only thing that is baffling is why, given the media's ready use of new media in other forms, it has taken so long for media and marketing sites to be set up. UK gossip sites such as have been causing great excitement in the TV industry for two years, and the Americans have sites like and which feature similar information. The companies involved in this flurry of launches - like the Guardian and Haymarket - having been writing about the internet since 1994.

'Adland, in particular its creative departments, is only just reaching the stage when every single member of staff is wired. Launching earlier would probably have been pointless,' explains one industry insider.

For PROs, of course, this rash of rapidly updateable launches presents something of a dilemma. Many of these print titles rely heavily on exclusive deals and the daily updates that the sites provide will call for careful balancing of relationships.

'It does mean the PR industry will have to look at new ways of working with these titles,' explains Martin Loat, managing director of Propeller Marketing Communications, which specialises in dealing with media clients.

'The old rules of exclusives and drops which rule this market will change, but only as the sites show they have more senior users. It would also help the PR industry if these sites helped us PR themselves to our clients.

It does take courage for a client to leave their traditional media behind and the sites need to understand that,' he adds.

Janine Gibson

Position: Executive Editor

Publisher: Guardian Newspapers

'We've been planning this site for around six months, as the Guardian works on bringing out internet versions of its G2 sections, like Media and Society.

'We've recruited a team of 12, and a new editor called Lisa O'Carroll arrives from the Daily Mail in three weeks time. We cover City, business, broadcast, advertising, marketing, print, new media and PR and update the site hourly.

'My favourite part of the site is the media monkey, an animated character who dishes out all the gossip. After day one, he was getting e-mails and he's broken loads of stories which have made it into the newspaper. In fact, stories like the Big Breakfast getting beaten by Channel 5 and Peter Salmon's first interview which have been followed up by the other newspapers were broken on our site.

'We're very impressed by the way the PR industry has reacted. We're getting releases and stories but, most importantly, PR people realise that we should be treated more like a broadcast medium than a print medium so we're getting immediate interviews and not having to wait until 6pm. I'd imagine the site will also be of some use to them.

'We want to increase our coverage of the industry for a start, but we also have a daily media briefing which is effectively a cuttings service plus events diary for the day which can be e-mailed out.'

Mike Hewitt

Position: New Media Director

Publisher: Haymarket Business Publications

'We're going to be launching in January 2001 but we've been working on the project since the end of last year. At Haymarket we've been publishing in this area since 1967 and the last thing we wanted to do was to put up our site with copy from our existing magazines rehashed or re-written.

'We conducted focus groups, 25 in-depth interviews and a 200 person telephone research project. We found that people want loads of marketplace info, loads of statistics, loads of data and loads of case studies. The agencies, especially the smaller ones, wanted information on possible clients, from when they are looking for new projects to a full corporate breakdown.

'Working from this, we've put together a number of deals with suppliers - we've just concluded one with the company information and search company ICC - to provide us with data. We'll be linking all these companies' back end software with ours to give full searches on, say, the soap powder market, accessing all our own titles and all our suppliers data bases. We also have an editorial team delivering 30 to 50 stories a day which can be e-mailed to users according to their needs.

'We'd like to start talking to PROs right now, even though we aren't launching until January. We've been running dummy news pages with a full team for a month now and we're already syndicating stories to other Haymarket sites and magazines.'

Patrick Dye

Position: Editor

Publisher: Centaur Communications

'We launched in July 2000 after working on the site since 1998 and initially we were an on-line archive for Centaur's 16 marketing and media magazines, including Marketing Week, Creative Review, New Media Age and Televisual. Over the last few months, however, we have recruited our own editorial team and now we create our own content as well as using the archive.

'The site is divided into nine zones: consumer products, retail, leisure, service, advertising, below-the-line, design, media and new media. Each of those is subdivided, so that media offers print and publishing, film and broadcast, issues and digital and interactive sections.

'The site also links to all the magazines' individual sites and we have additional partnerships with Reuters, Data Monitor and Harris International Marketing. We offer users a 30-day trial then they need to become registered users. At this stage that is free.

'We've got 75,000 registered users and we're getting 400 new users a day. We are slowly coming to the attention of the PR industry, but in many cases they aren't equipped to deal with a site that updates so often and they certainly aren't geared up to use simple things like e-mail press releases. The technology PROs obviously are, but we're stunned at the others. It's silly, because it's a cheap and easy way to disseminate your information.'

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