"We're lucky to have growth engines"
Was 2018 a good year for AFP commercially?
We can say it was a good year because our sales turnover rose by 3% to 170 million euros. This is the first year since 2014 that we have seen growth in our sales revenues, which is an encouraging sign for our development plan. The positive trend is driven by photo, up 6%, and video which rose 11%, confirming its status as the growth driver of the Agency. Text was stable in 2018, which is a good performance given a difficult situation for the written press, which remains a major client for this product.
What accounts for the growth in image sales?
For photo, which remains an excellent product for AFP, sales were driven higher by sport and the consistently high quality of the production. The year saw many global sporting events like the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the World Cup in Russia. For video, the constant improvement in the speed and quality of our production has enabled us to continue to win clients. AFP video is now in the top three main players in the sector and has become a genuine substitution option for television clients.
With double-digit growth, video is a growth engine like never before...
Indeed, it is the main product we are expanding and it has considerable room for further growth. We estimate we have a potential market of nearly 1,900 "broadcast" clients in the world and, even though we have expanded very quickly in recent years, there are lots of clients we could still win. There is an enormous pool! And we are not just looking at "broadcast" because of course the potential clients for our video production are not limited to this sector. Our live offer, which we really bedded down as a product in 2018, is also a strong additional product that complements our video production. We now offer up to four simultaneous live feeds with a production volume that really exploded in 2018, offering a significant amount of exclusive content. Hundreds of users, TV channels, digital media or pure players connect every day to the AFPTVLive platform. What is winning over the clients is the dynamic nature of our video product overall.
More generally, what is the strategy of the Sales and Marketing Department (DCM)?
The department's strategy is to win new clients and maintain and develop our existing client base. Keeping in mind these two strategic areas, we are deploying our sales teams as best we can in all regions. This also allows us some room for manoeuvre to respond quickly to sales opportunities that arise.
Does the DCM have sufficient resources to carry out this strategy?
We're making rapid progress. In terms of retaining clients, we have strengthened our network of client dialogue coordinators who work in the regional hubs to promote and highlight the Agency's daily production. In terms of winning clients, we are continuing to create marketing jobs in the regions to generate prospects for our sales teams. Combined with the launch of our new automated marketing system which will enable us to step up our promotion and marketing campaigns, we have an aggressive strategy in place to win new clients. Finally, we have also boosted our sales teams with staff specialised in developing corporate and broadcast markets in regions where this is relevant.
Like video, the corporate market is also a growth engine?
The corporate sector -- selling AFP products to companies -- saw sales jump 10% in 2018, driven essentially also by photo and video. By definition, this is a sector where we have significant potential to expand. Selling our wires has become a mature market in the corporate sector. However, we still have the chance to provide other content. And the greatest potential lies in offering on-demand content, via our subsidiary AFP-Services. Sales at this subsidiary have climbed 13% thanks to its specific skill-set that combines audiovisual expertise, journalistic narrative and a global network of staff.
What are the commercial priorities for 2019?
Our priority is to continue expanding, developing our most promising areas which are mainly video and corporate. The media market in general remains under strain but we are lucky to have growth engines. Lots of companies would love to be able to say that! The aim is to bolster these areas so they contribute more to our overall sales. To achieve this, the DCM is reorganising itself and getting more resources. In 2019, we will be launching our client relations management system. This will help us manage our client base and potential prospects more efficiently. We will also benefit from the completion of the API (Application Programme Interface) delivery system, which will enable clients to select content depending on their needs.