State of the Nation – Retail


Nine’s thought leadership and insights series, State of the Nation, dissects the state of play across key categories challenging marketers right now. For this first look at the Retail sector, we delve deeper into the now, new and next of for Retail, shining a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities moving forward.

Of the

who have switched to a different brand, price was cited as the deciding factor for more than half.


Australians selecting price as the #1 factor of 27 that determine their choice of retailer.

But range, convenience and quality experience also come into play. ​

Source: Fifth Dimension’s Bespoke Survey​. The Australian Retail Report 2023 - Shopify

Whilst price is ranked as the number one influence on people's purchasing decisions, Australian consumers fired clear warning shots about how strongly they feel about the quality of experience.


Post-pandemic, we know consumers are shopping online more than three years ago. And by 2024, spending in e-commerce is expected to reach over $32 billion in Australia.

Returned inventory creates 44 million tons of landfill each year. As financial burden to retailers mounts up, solutions like made-to-order manufacturing, AR clothing try-ones, and smarter demand forecasting are reducing excess inventory.


Free returns


Better security


Using data responsibly

And more...

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March​. The Drum, March 2023. Wunderman Thompson Future Shopper Report 2023​​


Social media has played a critical role in the compression of the traditional marketing funnel, where the points of inspiration and purchase have converged.​​

“Compressed commerce” is being driven by a need for “efficiency” and “ease”.​

55% of Australian online shoppers want to get from inspiration to purchase as quickly as possible

Source: Wunderman Thompson Future Shopper Report 2023​​

Group 18

Touchpoints are proliferating, and in some cases converging.

Consumers are constantly using both physical and digital channels in combination.

of consumers research their purchases online before they buy them in-store.

Source: Wunderman Thompson Future Shopper Report 2023​


Only 27% of Australian retailers are prioritising omnichannel data integration, and only 14% are investing in an omnichannel strategy.

More than 1 in 2 Australians want a seamless experience across all channels. ​

This increases to 63% for Generation X, Y and Z Australians. ​

Source: Nine’s Bespoke Survey via Idea Exchange

Group 19

The percentage of Australian consumers who are ‘happy to spend more on sustainable goods’ has dropped 7 percentage points in the past 18 months.

Increasingly, Australians are being forced to weigh up the costs to the planet with the cost of living.

“I’m happy to spend more on goods that are sustainable”

Picture 1

Source: Nine’s Consumer Pulse

Group 20

The complex purchasing journey means retailers have to work harder than ever to acquire and retain customers.

Of the 46% of Australians who have tried a different brand, 86% intend to continue with that brand.

9 out of 10 Australians participate in one or multiple loyalty programs.

Source: Shoppify


Keep it clear.

of global consumers think brands​ should be transparent about​ their commitments and promises.

For further information on the research, contact your Nine representative or complete the form. A member of the team will be in touch.

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Consumer Pulse Sport March 2024

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March 2024

Consumer Pulse – Sport surveys around 2,000 national respondents spanning Nine’s TV, digital, print and talk radio audiences. 

The monthly survey covers attitudes and behaviours towards sports viewing and the influence of sport on Australian culture.

Water polo action in a swimming pool

15-18 March, 2024

Inside this month’s Consumer Pulse - Sport dip

15-18 March, 2024

Consumer Insights

Top of mind sports/ sporting events taking place in the next four weeks

When we asked our Nine audiences if they are aware of any sports or sporting events taking place in the next four weeks, AFL, NRL and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne were top of mind. Awareness was widespread across people of all ages.

Start of F1 Bahrain Grand Prix of 2023 Formula One World Championship at Bahrain International Circuit on March 5, 2023 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Jaeman Salmon of the Panthers celebrates with his team mates after scoring a try during the round five NRL match between Canberra Raiders and Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium on March 31, 2023 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Sports or sporting events Nine audiences are most excited about

Along with widespread awareness, excitement levels were equally high for the AFL, NRL and Formula 1 Grand Prix. Other top mentions include Super Rugby, A-League, Cricket, and the US Masters Golf Tournament. There were no notable differences in age cohorts although overall, men were more likely to be excited about any sport or sporting event.

Conversation Starters

Sports fandom

This month we explored

When we asked our Nine audiences if they are a fan of any sport from a complete list of sporting codes, we found that more than 6 in 10 admit to being fans of the AFL, Tennis, and men’s Cricket. However,  the degree of fandom for each code varies, with around one-third claiming to be “avid” fans of the AFL whilst Tennis and Cricket have more of a “casual” fanbase.

Additionally, we observed variations across age and gender cohorts. People aged 45 and over are significantly more likely to be avid fans of the AFL and Cricket, while those under 45 are more likely to be casual fans of the AFL and “not at all” fans of Cricket. International sporting codes such as the NBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have a relatively niche following, although their popularity skews with people under 45.

Finally, men are significantly more likely to be fans of the AFL, NRL, Cricket, and Formula 1, whilst Tennis attracts both men and women equally.

Admit to being fans of the AFL, Tennis, and men’s Cricket

NOTE: For the best viewing experience on mobile, please view landscape.

Rugby fans cheering at stadium. Generative AI

Brand Considerations

Invest in understanding your audience and where your brand message resonates, ensuring you are targeting the consumer attributes that best align with your marketing goals. 

Sports fandom drivers 

Is the top reason for sports fandom

Those who have been fans since childhood, are more likely to be avid fans

Unsurprisingly, the top reason for sports fandom is a fundamental love of the game. Fans surveyed also spontaneously cited being a fan because they feel it’s a good representation of their life and lifestyle (for example, supporting Australian sports, supporting their home state team or local team).

Those who find a sport personally enjoyable and entertaining or who are fans of players/ athletes are more likely to be casual fans, while those who have an appreciation for the sport due to participation, as well as those who feel nostalgic towards a sport and have been fans since childhood, are more likely to be avid fans.


Sports fandom is built on emotional connection. Powerful advertising creative that is relevant, captivating and taps into the emotional psyche of the the audience will reap the rewards. 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Fans show support during the 2024 Suncorp Team Girls Cup match between NSW Swifts and Melbourne Mavericks at Ken Rosewall Arena on March 23, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images for Netball Australia)

Source: Nine’s Consumer Pulse - Sports Edition, March 2024 (n=2,587)

Multiple touchpoints

Engage with sports they are fans of through multiple touchpoints

The majority of Nine's audience are expressing their fandom through multiple touchpoints.

Of all the ways our Nine audiences engage with sports or athletes, watching games/matches on TV is the most common (85%). But only 1 in 10 are engaging with sports via one touchpoint. The majority (81%) are expressing their fandom through multiple touchpoints.

Aside from watching on TV, 55% are keeping up to date with the latest news via news publications and close to 1 in 2 are watching highlight reels and/or attending  games/matches in person.

People under the age of 45 are significantly more likely to be checking or posting to social media in relation to games and/or following sporting teams, athletes, or sporting personalities on social media.

Night at Home: Three Soccer Fans Sitting on a Couch Watch Game on TV, Use Smartphone App to Online Bet, Celebrate Victory when Sports Team Wins. Friends Cheer Eat Snacks, Watch Football Play.

BRAND Considerations

Investing in a cross-platform approach to your marketing strategy will drive stronger reach and impact for your brand.

Brands and fandom

Of Nine’s audiences are more likely to trial or purchase a product if that brand is a sponsor of their favourite sporting team

Brands and Fandom

One in 5 of Nine’s audiences are more likely to trial or purchase a product if that brand is a sponsor of their favourite sporting team (higher among under-45s) and 1 in 6 are more likely to trust a company that sponsors their favourite sporting team.


Consider sponsoring a sporting team that aligns with your brand identity and core values. The authentic connection will resonate with consumers and build brand trust. 

BANGKOK - November 13, 2022: Young boy footballer wearing Nike football booths in green. He is standing as a goal keeper, goalie, for his team in a youth soccer tournament.

Source: Nine’s Consumer Pulse - Sports Edition, March 2024 (n=2,587)


Want to know more?

Contact your Nine representative directly, or fill out the form and we'll be in touch.

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Talking Media with Nine: The Unfair Advantage – Brands and The Power of Sport

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Episode THREE

The Unfair Advantage - Brands and The Power of Sport

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‘Medals equal memories’: How brands can realise huge growth, ROI and loyalty – if they start their Olympic and Paralympic journey now

Catherine Clark, CEO, Paralympics Australia, urges corporate Australia to support athletes on the journey to Paris through to Brisbane and beyond. Gemba’s Adam Hodge says the ROI and pay-off is huge for brands that get it right – and go all-in early.

Read More

Eight-year runway

Brands now have an eight-year runway to prepare for Brisbane 2032. The smart ones are already on the journey – and will reap the benefits, according to Catherine Clark, CEO, Paralympics Australia.

“It’s the ultimate reality TV,” she says, “the ultimate human storytelling.” And for brands, the Games – and sports sponsorship in general – represent “one of the best ROI options that we have” for building communities.

Latest data from Gemba backs that view, says its Head of Marketing Strategy, Adam Hodge, with massive increases in brand trust as a result of sports sponsorships, which in turn builds brand loyalty.

This is backed up by Nine’s latest Consumer Pulse – Sport research, showing that 1 in 5 of Nine’s audience are more likely to trial or purchase a product if that brand is a sponsor of their favourite sporting team (higher among under-45 year-olds) and 1 in 6 are more likely to trust a company that sponsors their favourite sporting team.

He says brands must walk a fine line between “stepping too far and trying to save the world with a sponsorship, and forgetting that end of a day ‘I've still got to sell cars or soft drinks or shoes.’ What we’re seeing now is that the brands getting the best results are those who are finding the middle ground.”

Toyota template

Authenticity and values alignment is crucial for a successful sponsorship – where the likes of Toyota, says Clark, are setting a template that other brands could lift. 

The carmaker is the mobility partner for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics – supplying a fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles as well as accessible people-movers, wheelchair e-pullers and three-wheeled electric scooters to help people get around.

It’s showcasing its business beyond cars while providing a genuinely useful service that sits at the core of the Games.

“Many people incorrectly call them our automotive partner,” says Clark. “Yes, they do great cars, but Toyota with the Paralympics, that inclusion and diversity piece, has also created solutions for all kind of mobility aids that can help people – athletes, coaches, support staff who are in wheelchairs – make their way around the village or anywhere around the Games precinct.

“Toyota for me is one of those brands where they have really gone all in.”

That runs through the business – well beyond marketing, she suggests.

“Talking with some of the people who are in and around the Toyota community about how proud they are of their partnership, recalling stories of working with athletes, working with people with disabilities, knowing that they have made a huge impact on their life, that has really sat with me,” she adds.

“Whether we’re talking about the automotive category like Toyota, or to the Nikes, the Lulu Lemons, whatever your product offer is, accessibility is becoming really important so that people can connect and see that you have an offering that suits them from where they are in their life.” 

Emotion wins

The emotional rollercoaster of sport provides huge scope for brands to deliver long-lasting ad effectiveness.

Gemba’s data – the Gemba Creative Score – shows that brands investing in creative relevant to the environment get markedly better results. 

“Over the last 12 months that we’ve been tracking hundreds of ads through sponsorship, we’ve seen between four and six per cent uplift in cut-through for those brands who are creating advertising specifically for the environment,” says Hodge.*

“Five or six per cent might not seem a lot, but when you factor that out over the volume of spend we are talking about, it is a really significant difference.”

Untapped ROI

Beyond the Olympics, Gemba’s data also underlines that women’s sport provides one of the strongest returns for brands – far higher than men’s sports. 

“We did a study at the end of last year, which showed that for every dollar invested into women's sport in Australia you’re seeing a return of $7.29,” says Hodge. “You don't see that anywhere else in the men’s formats. It’s a really great opportunity for those brands that want to come in and make a big change.”

Westpac, he says, is a standout example of a brand walking the talk.

“What Westpac have done with their dollar-for-dollar investment in rugby league across men’s and women’s is the first time a brand has in the contract written down ‘every dollar we spend on the men, we will spend on the women’. The bank is going to audit the rights holder to make sure at the end of the year they show the receipts that they’ve actually done it,” says Hodge.

“That’s going beyond the lip service of putting your logo on the women’s team – and paying them a tenth of what you pay the men.”

Commit now

Clark is asking Australian brands this year to make similar commitments to support Australia’s diverse sporting community – from grassroots all the way to Brisbane 2032 and beyond.

“I really want to see corporate Australia get behind our Olympic and Paralympic teams,” she says, many of which “do it tough from a commercial point of view” and struggle to get from one Olympic cycle to the next.

“I’d love to see our big brands supporting our athletes, getting engaged, celebrating and sharing those stories, becoming part of the Aus squad, and joining us on our journey – because we can’t do it without them.”

Gemba’s Hodge says brands that get on board now will drive long-term growth.

“Aussies love a winner. I think all the predictions for this Olympic squad is that it’s going to be the best since Sydney 2000. Medals equal memories in this country – and those medals will directly translate to results for the brands that are involved,” says Hodge.

“This is really the beginning of the journey to Brisbane 2032, and an Olympics investment is not a small one – you need to be in this for the long term.

“If you’re waiting until the games in ’32 to start talking about your association, you’ve missed 10 years.”

Clark agrees, saying: “We need to prepare ourselves for having the biggest sports party we’ve ever dreamt of.”

*Source: The Impact of Tailored Sponsorship Content/Advertising. Gemba 2022 

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Nine’s Q1 Ratings 2024


9Network enjoys
best ever start to the year

Television viewing on the 9Network in 2024 has seen significant growth. The number of people watching our big brands has increased across breakfast, afternoons and primetime, while BVOD numbers are soaring to record highs.

This audience surge has given the 9Network its best ever start to the year with all key demographics and Total People.

9Network grows audience across
breakfast, afternoons and primetime

Australia's biggest show just got bigger, with Married at First Sight growing the number of people watching by 3.1% year-on-year to record a Total TV audience of 2.074 million. Meanwhile its BVOD audience on 9Now stands at 714,000 viewers per episode, up an incredible 16.2% on last year. National Cumulative Reach stands at an extraordinary 12.141 million viewers.

Australia's new favourite afternoon game show Tipping Point has redefined the 5pm timeslot, growing the audience 47.8% year-on-year for a National Total TV audience of 601,000 and a National Cumulative Reach of 7.022 million.

That audience has cascaded into our national news audiences with 7.6% more people watching 9News year-on-year (National Total TV audience 1.036 million) including an incredible increase in viewers on 9Now of 63.2% since last year (National BVOD audience 63,000 per episode).

The number of Australians watching our other key shows has followed suit with significant growth year-on-year for A Current Affair (up 6.5%), Today (up 5.7%) and The Hundred with Andy Lee (up 13.8%).

And with 12.9 million viewers tuning into Nine's coverage of the Australian Open, sports fans are in for a treat when Paris 2024 airs later this year.


Michael Healy, Nine’s Director of Television, said: "These results vindicate the commitment from the team at Nine and our partners to deliver content Australians want to watch in greater numbers. Married at First Sight is more than a television program. With more than two million Australians watching every episode, it is a cultural phenomenon. We're also blown away by the performance of Tipping Point, which has boosted the audience for our 5pm timeslot by almost 50%. Together with audience growth for 9News, 60 Minutes, A Current Affair, Today and The Hundred, free-to-air television is thriving.”

National Total TV Audience of 2.074 million per episode (up 3.1% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 714,000 per episode (up 16.2% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 12.141 million

9NEWS (Mon to Fri)
National Total TV Audience of 1.036 million per episode (up 7.6% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 63,000 per episode (up 63.2% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 12.041 million

National Total TV Audience of 957,000 viewers per episode (up 6.5% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 64,000 per episode (up 51.2% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 10.226 million

National Total TV Audience of 893,000 per episode (up 10.2% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 104,000 per episode (up 55.8% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 5.749 million

National Total TV Audience of 316,000 viewers per episode (up 5.7% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 29,000 per episode (up 38.1% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 6.625 million

National Total TV Audience of 601,000 viewers per episode (growing the timeslot by 47.8% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 36,000 per episode (growing the timeslot by 114.3% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 7.022 million

National Total TV Audience of 759,000 viewers per episode (up 13.8% year-on-year)
National BVOD Audience of 79,000 per episode (up 36.2% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 4.577 million

National Total TV Audience of 624,000 viewers per episode
National BVOD Audience of 117,000 per episode (up 17.0% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 4.101 million

National Total TV Audience of 641,000 viewers per episode
National BVOD Audience of 92,000 per episode (up 34.7% year-on-year)
National Cumulative Reach of 4.429 million


Broadcast Television – Free-to-air network shares
6pm to midnight – 2024 calendar year



25-54 36.4% 25.6% 17.9%
16-39 39.6% 24.1% 18.0%
GS + CH 31.7% 28.4% 13.4%
Total People 31.6% 28.1% 13.6%


Source: OzTAM VOZ 5.0 Data, When Watched, 01/01/2024-13/03/2024, Audience, 1800-MN, 5 City Metro, Broadcast TV only (excluding spill)

BVOD – commercial shares
2024 calendar year

25-54 54.5% 31.2% 14.3%
16-39 57.5% 29.1% 13.3%
GS + CH 52.3% 33.3% 14.4%
Total People 52.5% 33.4% 14.1%


Source: OzTAM VOZ 5.0 Data, When Watched, 01/01/24-13/03/24, Comm Share, 0200-2600, National, BVOD only (including spill)

Program Aud Source: OzTAM © 2023, TVMAP VOZ Ranking Report, VOZ Data 5.0, 01/01/2024 - 13/03/2024 & 01/01/2023 - 15/03/2023, National, Nine, Average AUD, Consolidated 28 as at 14/03/2024 (for 2024 program audiences), Overnight (for YoY %s), "9News" v average of "Nine News" & "Nine News 6:30", "Tipping Point Australia" v average of "Hot Seat" & "Hot Seat -5PM", "60 Minutes"

Reach Source: Source: OzTAM © 2023, TVMAP VOZ Ranking Report, VOZ Data 5.0, 01/01/2024 - 13/03/2024, National, Nine Content, Total TV, Total BVOD, Total Broadcast, Cumulative Reach, When Watched.

For more information

Terry Stuart
Senior Communications Manager

Adrian Motte
Senior Communications Manager

Contact us for more information on how your brand can leverage the power of premium content on Nine to deliver real business outcomes.

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Consumer Pulse March 2024



March 2024

The national mood is on the decline as Australians feel the cost of living. The desire for tertiary education, the most popular radio content, and radio listening times are all fuelling opinions and conversations this month.

Students, friends and group studying with laptop at park outdoors. Education scholarship, learning teamwork and happy people, black man and women with computer for  research at university or college.

1-4 March, 2024

Inside this month’s Consumer Pulse dip

Mood of the Nation

The national mood

The national mood has declined this month with a rise in negative emotions. This change is led by increased feelings of being frustrated and sceptical as well as decreased feelings of being optimistic and encouraged.

Despite this, the top 3 emotions this month were positive ones – with feelings of being relaxed, calm and hopeful.

NOTE: For the best viewing experience on mobile, please view landscape.

Dominant mood indicators

The top 10 dominant moods are an even mix of positive and negative emotions. Countering the top 3 emotions, which were positive, feelings of being frustrated, anxious and stressed remained high in the 4th, 5th and 7th positions of most prominent emotions this month.

NOTE: For the best viewing experience on mobile, please view landscape.

Cost of living

Cost of living: more Australian's feeling the pinch

Less than half of Nine’s audiences are feeling financially comfortable at the moment, which comes at the same time as 21% of Australians are “feeling the pressure” when it comes to their personal finances.

Most are affected by the rising cost of groceries (80%) and utilities (70%), while the rising cost in insurance premiums (66%) and general goods and services (64%) continue to affect Australians.

NOTE: For the best viewing experience on mobile, please view landscape.

Conversation starters


Of Nine's audience under the age of 45 are interested in pursuing tertiary study

4 in 5 people under the age of 45 are doing or plan to begin some type of tertiary study to help with their career. This compares to the general Nine audience, of whom 43% have plans to undertake any type of tertiary education.

Among this under-45 age group we also see that 1 in 5 are either currently studying or planning to do so in the next two years.

A young woman wearing a cap and gown, mixed race Hispanic and Caucasian. She is a university or high school graduate, smiling at the camera.


To align your brand to the under-45 demographic, target educational and career aspirations in your marketing objectives


News updates are

for radio listeners

Among Nine’s radio listening audience, news updates are the content of most interest, with 7 in 10 noting as such while music segments (59%) and interviews with industry experts (49%) are popular across all age groups and genders.

Among the under-45 age groups in Nine’s audience we see higher importance placed on interactive content such as competitions (34%) and listener call ins (39%) than with the over-45 audience.


As 7 in 10 radio listeners value news content, align your brand message with trusted and credible sources to benefit from their loyal listeners. This can in turn have a positive halo effect for your brand

Male radio presenter talking with his guest on radio show or podcast


listening in the car and at home

Among Nine’s audience we can see the most popular times to listen to talk radio are while driving in the morning (71%) and in the afternoon (64%).

However, listening to talk radio at home is still a very popular option, with listening during personal time (55%) and while doing chores (44%) still very popular among Nine’s audience.

Mature woman using car GPS navigation or changing radio music inside her car


To ensure your brand reaches an audience at scale, consider peak times and consumption habits when aligning your media plan


Want to know more?

Contact your Nine representative directly, or fill out the form and we'll be in touch.

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Tell your story in and around the content we know consumers are engaging with most

Talking Media with Nine: Disruption, fragmentation and convergence – what is the Future of TV?​

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Episode Two

Disruption, Fragmentation and Convergence - What is the Future of TV?

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FAST accelerates as Nine primes 40 channels, backs VOZ Streaming to keep scale, add targeting – but consent is now king and advertisers are missing tricks

Rapidly scaling FAST channels and new buying tools mean advertisers can still build massive TV reach fast, say Nine’s Liana Dubois and Nick Young. But brands and buyers could be smarter about how they harness formats and targeting capability. On the flip side, going too narrow will ultimately crimp growth. Meanwhile, spelling out exactly how data is being used is critical.

Read More

VOZ is here

Nine Commercial Director of Digital, Nick Young, is backing the launch of the cross-network VOZ Streaming system to unlock greater scale for advertisers, while sharpening targeting and reducing wastage. Due in market this year, he urged other BVOD players to plug-in to the initiative alongside Seven, Nine and Paramount-owned Ten.

Despite accelerating fragmentation, shifts in consumption habits and linear TV moving from antennae-delivered to internet-delivered shows, Young, and Nine CMO Liana Dubois suggested advertisers can still tap massive TV audiences at speed – if they harness all the tools at their disposal.

VOZ Streaming uses the OzTAM identifier to enable advertisers to plan, buy and post-analyse reach across participating BVOD platforms. It’s designed to reduce duplication and solve cross broadcaster frequency capping challenges – i.e. hitting the same people with the same ad too many times across multiple broadcasters.

Young said VOZ has gained traction since launch, enabling marketers to “measure their investment back to campaign goals”. But he said that is just “stage one”. Total TV activation – i.e. optimising reach outcomes across broadcast & Digital TV – is the next stage.

“VOZ Streaming is a product that will enable reach and frequency-based buying across – 9Now, 7Plus & 10Play - for the moment– but we hope other providers will see the benefit and want to get involved,” he said.

“It provides a cross-broadcaster BVOD reach product and it also enables data matching for BVOD. So the combination of VOZ from a measurement and planning perspective with the streaming activation that will happen this year will enable marketers to still reach mass audiences at scale while being able to target using data.”

Hitting FAST accelerator

While traditional TV drives “water cooler” moments, particularly live sports, underlined by huge audiences for last year's Women’s FIFA World Cup and this year’s Australian Open – there is only so much sport, and spectrum, to go around.

Delivering sport and live events via IP-delivered TV adds targeting capability to that scale – as well as the ability to create a collection of niche audiences that advertisers can stitch together in order to engage more deeply with viewers around subjects and content they care about.

Which is where FAST channels – free ad-supported TV – start to open up new opportunities. These channels are based on specific genres or even a specific show, curated in a linear fashion: i.e. the shows keep playing, non-stop, with ad breaks.

Their attraction is to pull in audiences to the things they are most interested in, while removing the hassle of searching for things to watch. “That’s a very real problem,” says Young, with more than a kernel of truth in the “joke that it takes longer on Netflix to find a show than watch it”. Nielsen data from 2023 suggests on demand viewers spend an average of 10.5 minutes searching for something to watch, about 40 per cent more searching time than in 2019.

FAST channels mean brands can ‘own’ the environment and reach audiences that, albeit smaller, are deeply engaged, reducing potential wastage. The trick is then stitching those audiences together – using tools like VOZ.

Nine currently has two FAST channels in market – youth-focused Pedestrian TV and a dedicated Seinfeld channel that houses all 180 classic episodes.

The network has more coming this year, “something like 40 FAST channels over the period of the Olympics and Paralympics” alone, according to Liana Dubois. “They give incremental viewing choice to consumers who seemingly have an insatiable appetite for content”, particularly when it is packaged up and made easy for them.

Creative thinking required

But Nick Young urges advertisers to be smarter about how they tap into FAST to move beyond a “limited view” of its potential.

“The flexibility we have as a broadcaster around that uncluttered environment, and the ability to develop a TVC with that brand for two minutes of an ad break that reflects the content of that particular channel … There are so many ways we can work with a brand to integrate within a FAST channel in a far better way.”

“These shows and products are hugely popular with that relevant audience – a small audience, no question, but hugely popular. Which means the engagement and trust they have for these brands can be reflected in new and innovative ways. Because they are served digitally, there’s things like sequential ad messaging and dynamically served ads, so many different approaches that we can utilise – but that I'm not seeing that much of. I'd like to see more.”

Brand vs demand

Large advertisers have been getting their first-party data in order – and using it to better target logged-in audiences via anonymised data matching. It means they can avoid targeting people who probably won’t be interested in their products – such as a car brand doesn’t want to waste budget on putting ads in front of someone who has just bought a car. Or targeting only those more likely to buy their product, like dog owners who will probably want to buy dog food.

“We’ve seen a huge rise as everyone gets a CDP [customer data platform], especially the big advertisers, investing in data analytics and crafting out that segmentation,” said Young.

“Certainly, now with cookies [going out] and privacy coming in, those products are in vogue, and we are working with clients day-to-day on the activation and suppression of audiences in real-time. We’re seeing a real focus by these businesses to buy in a way that is relevant to create conversion.”

But Young thinks segmentation can go too far. If advertisers end up targeting “one or two people in Bondi, that can be really expensive”, with advertisers better off just “knocking on their doors”, he suggested.

“So while we’re seeing great work in creating customer profiles and segmentation, you’ve still got to hit a broad audience – and you’ve still got to maintain a large volume to be able to shift the dial.”

Likewise, said Dubois, going broad builds brand and “future demand” for people who might be ready to buy in future.

Consent is king

Although content remains critical as TV networks and streaming platforms vie for audiences, consent is now likewise king when it comes to using audience data to serve targeted ads.

“Consent-based approval is actually the key to any data targeting products or data products that we use,” said Young. Audiences understand the exchange – free content for targeted ads. But both publishers and brands must ensure that audience contract is crystal clear in terms of what data is collected and how it is used, given incoming overhauls to Australia’s privacy laws.

“The old joke used to be that the biggest lie ever told on the internet was ‘yes, I agree’, and ‘I have read your terms and conditions’. But those days are over. So from a Nine perspective, we’re focused on making sure people understand the relationship between our content and their data, and how that can give them a better experience, both from an advertising perspective and a content consumption perspective.”

“Fundamentally, that puts the network in a position of complete compliance.”

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