AFG Revamps Its Media Department

Avrett Free Ginsberg is taking a page from the bigger boys, reshaping its media unit into a communications-channel planning department. Media staffers are being folded in with account planners, and the Interpublic Group shop is taking its research in-house.

This week, the eight-person media department will add seven account planners; three of those positions are new, said chief marketing officer Jamie Korsen. The revamped department will be “media planning on steroids,” Korsen said.

Research was previously farmed out to media-agency siblings MediaFirst, Initiative Media and Universal McCann, which will retain broadcast-buying duties, Korsen said.

The revamp comes less than a month after Scott Carlson was hired from Love Collective as ecd and is part of a plan to modernize the traditional New York shop and double revenue in four years.

“All our clients are asking us about this,” said Korsen of communications-channel planning.

Media search consultants said the offering is rare enough among midsized shops that it could give AFG a better chance of reaching the final rounds of reviews.

“Their edge is on the service side,” said John O’Connor, president of Relevant Insight Group in Boston. “With media and account planners, they are now as close to a full-service agency as you can get. They’ve taken over everything that has interaction with the client—there are clients that will gravitate toward that.”

The research angle, however, “is a risky proposition,” cautioned Jim Surmanek, CEO of MediaAnalysisPlus in Chicago. “They need the scale of client activity and revenue to make sure they have state-of-the-art systems, and they need top-notch analytical people to properly interpret the findings.”