Flat White

No, local content and TV isn’t dead

4 March 2020

4:36 PM

4 March 2020

4:36 PM

Most Australians will have the same reaction to the offer of a free lunch... “What’s the catch?” But when it comes to the internet, even after all this time there’s still work to be done in reminding consumers of the inherent quid pro quo, that diverse and independent journalism and the creation of quality home-grown Australian content is only made possible by advertising.   

While subscription-based content is growing, it still only makes up only a fraction of total screen timethe ad funded internet continues to dominate and will do for some years to come.  

The rise of digital advertising has changed the face of marketing with businesses able to reach potential customers in real-time, on news sites like Sky News, through streaming music services or the new battleground of Connected TV  

But making the economics of television pay in this new world is shared challenge for broadcasters – including the wider creative industry in Australia – and advertisers, and we need to better explain that the tab for lunch comes in the form of advertising.  

Advertisers themselves are entitled to ask some questions about this free lunch. “Who is coming, and how much will it cost me?” The analogy ends here, but the point stands: who and where is my audience, and how much will it cost to reach them? 

Every broadcaster knows that fundamental change is underway and significant energy is going into re-organising their consumer and commercial models as a result. But change isn’t easy and consumers move fast. The numbers tell us that viewers are retaking the choice of what they view and where they view it, from fresh original content, to quality content.   

Audiences haven’t disappeared – they are just fragmenting across screens, demanding flexibility in ‘when they watch’ and have greater expectations around the user experience, of which advertising plays a major part.  

The fastest-growing area for broadcasting in Australia is Connected Television.  Aconsumers upgrade their living rooms, investment in user experience accelerates, content catalogues grow and programmers become more adventurous with their scheduling, embracing digital as a new way to maximise the audience from their investment in content.   

And while Connected TV is the fastest-growing media channel in the country by farthis groundswell on the part of audiences and content providers is still yet to be fully matched by advertisers. 

Advertisers have been whiplashed by change – from the emergence of search to social. TV has been the final piece of the media puzzle to go online, although the ad spend will remain relatively flat around AUD3.7BN (2.45BN USD, eMarketer).  

Digital ad spending, meanwhile, is projected to increase to AUD11.3BN (7.51BN USD, eMarketer), meaning that advertisers have the opportunity to follow where consumers are going.  

Simply put, we need to match eyeballs with advertisers based on where the consumer themselves choose to receive their content – whether that’s new digital providers or broadcasters like Sky, regardless of where people view the content.   

The Trade Desk is directly tasked with that challenge; connecting advertisers to media based on the interests and demographics of their audience.  We work with all digital platforms and we aren’t incentivized to steer a brand towards our own media assets – because we don’t own any. We work with traditional broadcasters and the new entrants without fear or favour, with our system that rewards all players fairly for their contribution to the value created. 

More importantly, the advertisers, who are paying for internet’s free lunch, can get full transparency on where their ads are showing and what content they are supporting.  

In this new era of ‘Connected TV,’ they can link the response to particular campaigns directly, where previously the connection could only be inferred, and content owners can be rewarded fairly for the impact they have on driving that behaviour. Objectivitytransparency and accountability can become the common currency in this new era. 

The idea that broadcasters and content creators should be fairly rewarded for their work, while advertisers should have full line of sight on where their ad dollars are going and why should not be new or bold.  

It needs advertisers match eyeballs with investment, but it also needs broadcasters to support the application of data that helps advertisers optimise their campaigns. If one side helps the other, it is clear that a new golden age for Australia’s creative and content industries is entirely possible. 

James Bayes is Australia New Zealand general manager of The Trade Desk. 

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