Interview: Alan Cox, Core Media

06 Sep 2014 | 11.37 am

Interview: Alan Cox, Core Media

Ireland’s biggest media buyer has moved into education too

06 Sep 2014 | 11.37 am

You’d think that Alan Cox, CEO of Core Media, has enough on his plate. Core Media is Ireland’s largest media buyer, with annual turnover in excess of €170m. Under the Core umbrella are five media agencies: Clear Blue Water, MediaVest, Mediaworks, Starcom and ZenithOptimedia. In addition the Core group includes Radical, Ignite, Publicis Engage, whose activities span research to full service digital.

Now there’s another string to the Core bow – Core Knowledge. Three years in planning, Core Knowledge is the group’s new education arm, offering three-hour courses, mostly related to digital, at a price point of €295. Digital education and instruction has been a huge growth area in the last four years. Most of it has to do with teaching marketers about the intricacies of social media platforms, and more granular tuition surrounding Google and search engine optimisation.

J025467Alan Cox, Core Media

Core’s syllabus has a defined media focus. It’s aimed at marketers who want knowledge about the digital marketplace, advertising professionals who need to keep abreast of what’s going on, and media owners who want to understand what media buyers are looking for.

But why bother? “Diversification is a cornerstone of our business plan,” says Cox. “Three years ago we decided to strengthen our internal training. Once we had completed that programme, we realised we had something of quite a high standard and that there might be a demand for it in the marketplace.”

Core Knowledge’s courses for advertisers include ‘20 things you should know about media’, ‘Future-proofing the brand using new platforms and technology for media planning’ and ‘Maximising the effect of limited media budgets’. Topics in the general Digital Courses category include ‘Digital for Dummies’, ‘Getting the most from Google Adwords’, ‘Marketing in a Mobile World’ and ‘Social Advertising inside out”.

Digital Demand

The range of digital-related courses reflects demand, according to Cox. “We did extensive quantitative research among the audiences of marketers, media owners and creative agency professionals. Then we constructed the syllabus around their requirements. The lecturers come from our own organisation and are senior practitioners who practice the subjects day in, day out. So they are the best qualified people in the market to share that knowledge.”

So how was the €295 price point arrived at? “We established that price by looking at the value we place on the product and also the time of our people given over to this venture. We also fed that into a business plan in order to establish the return that we required, and we did some benchmarking. We believe that it is a fair price for the high quality premium product we are offering.”

The venture’s website,, has been well thought out, though Cox admits that getting the site right was the trickiest part of the undertaking. Next comes the job of persuading individuals to sign up, a novel experience for a business more used to being on the receiving end of media blandishments.

The core Core business, meanwhile, is doing fine. Advertising spend in Ireland increased by about 4% through 2014, with growth in digital spend estimated at 20%. “The overall growth in ad spend is the first we’ve seen in about seven years, so it’s significant,” says Cox. ”We are quite confident that 2015 is going to be a better year again and we could see growth levels of up to 6%.”

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