Canadian health networks stop competing, start cooperating

November 20, 2008 by Dave Haynes

Three Canuck screen networks targeting clinics, health centres and labs have formed what they call a strategic marketing alliance that makes the overall network size much bigger and gets them all somewhat working together.

It’s called the Canadian Health Media Network and its key players are PHSN and Cruise Media Group/IDS Canada, as well as a relative newcomer in Quebec called Medik-TV. The idea is that they collectively deliver about 3 million pairs of eyeballs month to month in the medical waiting room environment.

The formation, says a press release, of the Canadian Health Media Network will make it much easier for advertisers with a health and wellness message to purchase air time across all the networks.  Affiliates will also offer advertisers the opportunity to integrate their message with poster boards, and a literature display and distribution service – generating greater impact, exposure, and opportunity to connect with their target audience.

Ed Voltan, Managing Partner, PHSN Ltd., explains the impact of the alliance, “This is of true benefit to health and wellness advertisers and their agencies. Bringing affiliates together under one banner not only provides a single source for media in the healthcare environment, it also facilitates the opportunity to reach over 10% of the Canadian adult population each month, a number which should rise to 20%, by mid 2009.”

Adds Ryan Cruise, President and CEO CMGI “With the rapid expansion of digital-out-of-home media and growing acceptance of digital signage by consumers, we believe this new alliance, with its extended reach, is poised to offer advertisers a compelling media platform to target and engage a captive audience of health-minded consumers where and when their health is top of mind.”

PHSN has been around for a bunch of years, run by my old ENN colleague Voltan, while CMGI is much newer, but operating on very aggressive plans to build out across the country and beyond. The Cruise in Cruise Media is Ryan Cruise, who relocated from Winnipeg to Oakville earlier this year to work with IDS and start building a full plan and rollout nest egg.

This sort of consolidation — not mergers, but an agreement to get on the same page in how they chase business — is likely to be seen more and more in the industry. Multiple sales groups selling pretty much the same thing just results in rates getting forced down and down and media buyers getting mightily confused about all the “who’s” and “what’s” that come with piles of medical network sales people and media kits.

It’s a good move, and while there will likely be more small medical networks jumping in to this, expect the same sort of thing for other kinds of vertically-focused networks.

It may not happen in the US because there are some dominant players, notably Accent Health, that probably don’t need any company, but then there are countless networks focused on verticals within the verticals. 

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