The COVID-19 pandemic represented a generational turning point.
The global disruption the virus caused to consumers, business and media has not been seen in the modern era.
With change of this magnitude the downstream effect on those most acutely impacted become obvious very quickly – restaurants, retail, airlines, cinemas, cafes, gyms and the wider events and entertainment sector are clearly on the frontline.
It’s not until the dust starts to settle that the less visible impacts begin to emerge.
Free-to-air television and the local publishing industry, including here in the Hunter, have faced growing challenges over the past two decades, from online news, pay TV and social media, to streaming services and gaming.
YouTube and other streaming platforms created serious inroads into people’s living rooms and smartphones, shaking up the traditional television market.
For advertisers, fragmentation of media consumption has made it harder to access audiences at scale, according to The Trade Desk general manager, Australia New Zealand James Bayes.
“Rapid audience growth across broadcaster video-on-demand platforms (BVOD) accelerated during the last year’s lockdowns and offsets part of the challenge,” he said.
“The Australian television industry invests over $1 billion annually into local content production, fuelling our creative communities and amplifying our local culture and voice.
“If advertisers – including many of the major corporations based here in the Hunter, including mining, construction and tourism – default to global social platforms versus the premium content of our local and national TV industry, the revenue streams of our broadcast, publishing, creative and production ecosystem will be jeopardised at a time when we’re all being encouraged to ‘shop local’.
“Putting aside noble motives of supporting our local industry, the risk for advertisers is that a heavy reliance on global social and search platforms exposes their campaign performance to bias due to the vested media interests of those platforms.
“Rather than placing advertisements based on where data shows a relevant audience is consuming content and is likely to respond, many global platforms are incentivised to direct advertising investment toward channels they have an affiliation with or ownership over.
“Now more than ever, accountability, measurement, performance and return on ad spend are critical for brands, and objectivity should be a foundational component.”
Mr Bayes said advertisers were starting to understand that.
“As they embrace a data-driven approach, they are prioritising advertising opportunities that are measurable and comparable,” he explained.
“The open internet, comprising thousands of Australian publishers offers the same audiences at scale and the rise of Connected TV (the fastest growing media segment in the country) allows for the streaming of quality Australian news, current affairs, drama, comedy and lifestyle programming from our local broadcast networks.
“By targeting this content and ‘buying local’, advertisers can support the domestic industry, while gaining the precision of knowing which audiences are consuming their ads, and how they are responding.
“This kind of performance feedback and objectivity is simply not possible on today’s giant search and social platforms.”
The Trade Desk, and other demand side platforms (DSPs), match audiences with advertisers based on how the consumers themselves choose to enjoy their content.
“This data-driven approach becomes increasingly important as they work to understand where consumer attention is shifting during this crisis,” Mr Bayes said.
“And, in choosing how to reach those consumers, they are starting to prioritise partners who have no vested ownership of media properties and have the independence to offer access to all advertising opportunities, not limited, preferred list.
“Importantly, with this approach advertisers retain full transparency on where their advertisements are showing up and the content they are supporting, and how the audience is responding.
“As the Prime Minister has reminded us, the ongoing restrictions in response to COVID-19 and the subsequent hard slog of economic recovery could take Australia well over 12 months.
“During this time it will be critical that our domestic broadcast and publishing industry is supported, just like any other local business.
“Advertisers here in the Hunter and across the country can play their part by thinking, acting and buying locally, supporting Australian jobs and communities to minimise the downside and accelerate our economic recovery.”