Ad Age's Global History Shows We Have Little Fear of Failure

And With a New Model Focused on Licensing and Events, We're Ready to Publish Into the Future

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David Klein
David Klein
It is a fact of life: Wherever marketers and their agencies go, the media follow. Over the past 30 years, as advertising has grown into a global business, Advertising Age has pushed beyond its U.S. base as well -- sometimes successfully, and sometimes not.

We handle global publishing now in a very different way than we did a quarter century ago (we do it profitably, for one thing). And in retrospect, we prefer to view our early days of overseas publishing as a very interesting learning experience, which I offer here for whatever educational value you may take from it. At the very least, we should get points for sheer perseverance. Look at this track record of stubbornness:

Ad Age's first effort in Europe was in the early 1980s with a quarterly called Ad Age Europe that became the monthly Focus magazine in 1984. We closed that in 1987 and launched a weekly newsletter out of London and Berlin called Euromarketing . By the mid-1990s, Euromarketing was phased out, more or less. (Which means I'm not sure the editor didn't simply keep publishing it on his own even after we closed it. Whatever.)

NEW LICENSEE: Ad Age Central y El Caribe
NEW LICENSEE: Ad Age Central y El Caribe
But were we done yet? No, we had barely begun. In 1991, Ad Age launched Ad Age International, an excellent publication that had a few up years but mostly down ones, and so in 2000, we relaunched again as Ad Age Global. That came just in time to catch the meltdown of the internet bubble. By 2003, we were finally done with the whole Euro-publishing strategy.

Why didn't any of these various publications work? It's very simple: Media advertisers don't really see the point of pan-regional or global advertising. They like local advertising in the local-language trade press. I could give you a much more detailed analysis of what happened with each product, but honestly, in the end, it's all about local vs. regional.

Today, we follow a new and much more successful model, focusing on global licensing, events and copy-protected newsletters, and we are particularly involved in the BRIC countries. For example:

In Brazil we license content to that country's top trade publication, Meio & Mensagem, and are marketing partners for its 2-year-old Wave ad festival in Latin America.

In Russia, we've licensed our branded-entertainment content to a Russian company that used it to launch a Russian-language e-weekly titled "Branded."

In India this year we began a licensing arrangement with the country's leading online and print advertising publisher, Exchange4Media, a partnership we expect to grow quickly.

In China we have been active for years in a multitude of ways: holding events in Shanghai, publishing our weekly newsletter AdAgeChina and working with our licensee and partner Modern Advertising, which is backed by the China Advertising Association.

We are perhaps most excited right now about another recent launch, this one just last month in Central America. For the first time, Ad Age has licensed rights to another company to publish a foreign-language version of the publication.

Advertising Age America Central y El Caribe is a monthly Spanish-language mix of relevant Ad Age content and local news coverage, with offices and distribution in seven countries: Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. The publishers, Grupo Cerca of Costa Rica, have done a great job so far.

And frankly, given our 30-year history of international publishing, they've shown the only way Ad Age will ever publish a pan-regional magazine again: By letting a good partner who speaks the market's language do it themselves.

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