Country Mix hopes outsourcing deal will quadruple agency ad sales
NICHE radio player Country Mix is hoping to quadruple its big brand advertising after outsourcing all its agency dealings to local radio sales-house IRS.
The deal comes amid a recent flurry of activity that has seen Country Mix launch its first branded news bulletins as well as a tailored iPhone app.
IRS's status as Country Mix's sole agent for big brand sales marks a turnaround of the position a year ago, when Country Mix wasn't even included on the list of stations IRS was handling on an non-exclusive basis.
"In the past we'd have wanted to engage with IRS, but it never really happened," says Sean Ashmore, who heads up the East Coast and Country Mix radio group. "Now there's been a change in management and we can do business."
Most stations who sell through IRS also handle some agency sales in-house, but the radio boss says giving IRS exclusivity makes sense given Country Mix's circumstances.
"A station like East Coast that's been established for 20 years would be well-established with the agencies, so there's a value in having an in-house sales manager handle some agency sales," says Mr Ashmore.
"Country Mix is a much younger, smaller station, so it wouldn't be as high up the pecking order for agencies."
Country Mix gets just 10pc of its advertising from agencies, compared with 30pc to 40pc of agency advertising on East Coast. "Realistically, we'd be hoping for 40pc to 50pc agency now we have IRS," says Mr Ashmore.
The battle for more agency sales comes as the radio industry emerges from a "tough" first quarter, with Mr Ashmore predicting most stations have seen revenues slide another 10pc, putting them more than 30pc below their 2008 levels.
Country Mix, which merged with East Coast last summer, has also begun airing its first branded news bulletins after signing a deal with Newstalk.
The agreement sees Newstalk produce bespoke bulletins for the country station between 10am and 5pm every weekday, replacing the INN-branded bulletins.
Country Mix is also kicking off 2010 with an advertising splash -- most notably a new TV campaign featuring country music greats such as Shania Twain and Christy Moore -- which runs until March 24.