Nine’s plan for 2024: Adload overhaul, FAST TV push, personalisation play and bankable measurement amid risky numbers game
Chief Marketing Officer, Nine
Chief Sales Officer & Managing Director - Local Markets, Nine
Director of Network Scheduling, Nine
Australia’s booming TV and digital video market is worth $7 billion in advertising, but increasing competition for that prize risks fuelling misinformation and marketer confusion. Nine’s CMO Liana Dubois, CSO & Managing Director of Local Markets Michael Stephenson, and Director of Network Scheduling Geoff Dyer unpack the bankable growth opportunities, new formats, channels, tech – and advertiser watch-outs – for 2024.
A numbers game
Combined with television in all its forms, the Australian digital video market annually attracts seven billion in advertising dollars. It’s increasingly complex, with streamers now launching ad tiers, global video platforms pushing hard for a larger share of the spoils, and a long tail of social players staking their own claims for marketer budgets.
But the fundamentals of size, scale and measurement remain intact – and few if any can compete with total TV across those fundamentals, says Nine sales chief Michael Stephenson.
Of the $7 billion video pie, “the total television component – the combination of metro and regional television and BVOD – is about $3.5 billion,” says Stephenson. “You’ve then got YouTube, which is about $3 billion.” After that comes the “lower value” social players and the emerging ad-funded streaming players.
This increasingly competitive landscape, and its inherent cross-channel measurement challenges, is leading to some confusion in market, and some misinformation. Which is why marketers and media buyers require robust, reliable numbers on which to base their investments: $7 billion is a lot to misallocate.
Best data wins
Australia’s independent gold-measurement service, VOZ, set to launch as a total TV measurement currency in early 2024, vastly reduces the risk of misallocation.
“For me, VOZ really is the game changer,” says Stephenson.
“The ability to measure reach and frequency across the total video ecosystem that total television dominates will be a game changer and will allow brands to really measure the return on investment that they’re getting from their video campaigns.”
VOZ’s launch will also vastly reduce the complexity of TV planning and buying for advertisers, with “one source of measurement across traditional formats, live linear TV, live streaming and on demand,” across Seven, Nine and Ten, says Stephenson.
“It allows advertisers to bring together the best of broadcast with the best of digital in one media buy, allowing you to access all parts of the marketing funnel in a way that you simply can’t do anywhere else – because no one else can measure this stuff,” he adds. “Nowhere in the world has a country been able to do this.”
Amid talk of breakaway currencies, Stephenson thinks more complexity is the last thing marketers need – and reiterates calls for other networks and streaming platforms to lean in to the new measurement system.
“It is not an exclusive club. The opportunity for other video providers to be a part of it has always existed and exists today.”
BVOD: advertisers playing catch-up?
Either way, BVOD’s audience growth is powering. Geoff Dyer, Director of Network Scheduling, predicts that trend to accelerate in 2024.
“Married at First Sight had over two million viewers per episode this year, and 700,000 of them were on BVOD alone. Some episodes of Love Island Australia have an audience over 300,000 on BVOD,” says Dyer, who sees those numbers continuing to climb. “It’s incredible, it’s changing so fast.”
As such, Stephenson thinks advertisers may need to reweight budgets.
“The challenge for brands, advertisers and agencies is not so much understanding the landscape but understanding the balance between allocation of audiences or revenue from a media buying perspective,” he says.
“When 25 to 30 per cent of our audience in some instances is being delivered via either live stream or on-demand viewing, it would make sense that 25 or 30 per cent of your total television budget should also be transitioned there as well.
“The market broadly is behind that curve. So I think there’s going to be a really interesting theme that you see into 2024 about brands working on getting that mix right.”
Personalisation, playback, FAST TV boom
Two closely linked TV themes for 2024 are personalisation and viewer experience. 9Now’s new live home page is just the start, says Geoff Dyer. “There are a lot of things on the roadmap that haven’t been mentioned yet, but it all boils down to what do you want 9Now to be for you?”
Core to the plan is “how do we create 9Now and have personalisation to bring content that’s relevant to you on top [of the live home page]?” adds Dyer. In a world almost paralysed by choice, people “want that to be simplified for them a little bit”.
Which is where free ad-supported TV – or FAST – comes into play. That is, curated channels based on themes and genres that effectively work like a linear channel: all the shows that appeal to fans and specific audiences in one place. Pedestrian Television was the first of the network’s FAST channels out of the blocks, but Nine has a lot more coming, says Dyer.
“There'll be fast channels for everyone. Whether you’re a reality junkie, a crime buff, maybe you want to watch season after season of Love Island, we will create these premium curated channels where everyone feels like there’s something for them on 9Now, where they don’t have to make ten choices every night as to what they are watching.”
Nine CMO Liana Dubois thinks FAST channels mark a “tipping point and transition moment” for total TV, bringing genuine addressability to a mass medium.
“The restrictions [that apply] in a broadcast world start to get broken down, and rather than being this sort of one to many medium, which is still incredibly powerful today, we can get much more personalised and be one-to-one, but still at scale, and still deliver that reach and that impact.”
Adloads, adtech, add more
Adloads are a key aspect of viewer experience – and Nine is now actively working on ad break architecture, says Michael Stephenson, looking at ad break lengths and formats across BVOD and FAST channels to work out the best balance for user engagement and attention.
Meanwhile, adtech investments mean more advertisers can take advantage of highly targeted ads – down to postcode level. Nine Ad Manager, launched at Nine’s recent Upfront presentation, will even create the ad for brands in minutes via a self-serve platform using AI. Stephenson suggests it gives small to medium firms a far more compelling, premium, brand-safe and privacy-compliant alternative to social video.
Given Nine has “almost 50 per cent share of the BVOD market”, Stephenson thinks marketers will see plenty of upside in 2024.
“Interactive advertising, the ability to engage with ads as you're seeing them live utilising your remote control, sending information directly to your mobile device – that really takes interactivity to the next level,” he says.
“Dynamic creative optimisation, the ability to deliver up to 10,000 different creative executions off the back of one piece of video – there is a truckload of stuff happening.”
Source: OzTam (5 City Metro & Regional Combined Panel) Nine Network, Nine Content Affiliates, MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT, Excluding Encore, Average Audience, Total People, Consolidated 28; OzTAM Live + VOD VPM, 9Now Only, Con28, Married at First Sight (30/01/2023 - 3/04/2023), includes coviewing on connected tv devices. OzTAM LIVE + VOD VPM, Love Island Australia, 30/10/2023 - 29/11/2023 v 31/10/2022 - 30/11/2022, includes co-viewing on connected TV devices. OzTAM Live + VOD VPM, 1 January 2023 – 30 November 2023. Metric: CFTA Minutes, duration 0+, includes coviewing on Connected TV.
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