Media buyers reflect on ‘on-brand’ Nine upfronts and ‘interesting’ SME proposition

Nine was the first of the commercial free-to-air broadcasters to unveil its 2019 programming slate. So what did the buyers think?

Senior media buyers have praised the efforts of Nine, which this week revealed a new content lineup and investment in a trading platform for small to medium businesses owners.

The buyers, who attended Nine’s upfronts in Sydney overnight, described the presentation as “slick”, “well-connected” and on-brand.

Jack Byrne, managing director, Hatched Media

Thoughts on the content lineup?

While the tennis is the obvious announcement, Nine very much stuck to their knitting with their programming and played it fairly safe, which is not a bad thing for buyers by any means as you know what you are going to get, and we wouldn’t want to see anything too different with the volatility of the migrating sports audience enough to navigate into the new year.

With the announcement of SeaChange coming back, we are seeing nostalgia becoming a currency within the content space, and we’ll see a lot of this coming through in the cinema landscape in 2019, they would see this as a lot safer option than introducing a new format, and as they have a couple of new dramas coming out next year, I would imagine having something a bit safer would hedge their bets somewhat.

What did you think of 9Voyager?

This is a very interesting play and while no details were revealed, I applaud the attempt to tap into a new market and take on the likes of Facebook and Google with a self-serving platform to buy audiences at scale. While I still have questions as to how this will work, the SME market has a very long tail and huge upside, but questions remain as to the take up from this market who would require creative assets to run (and often this market doesn’t have these), and I’ll also be interested as to the quality controls of this and whether assets would require CAD approval etc already. We will see more plays into this market, and the likes of Voyager and News Connect are perfect examples of this.

Where is Nine at with addressability? Are they the leaders in this space?

While there is still some work to be done, Nine are doing a great job in pushing the agenda and bringing addressability to the forefront of their operations which is great.

Is there anything more you would have liked to have seen?

While our industry always loves a big announcement or some scuttlebutt, I think the production of the night was great and they delivered what they needed to so can’t ask much more than that.

Lucie Jansen, chief investment officer, Blue 449

Thoughts on the content lineup?

Whilst there was nothing ground-breaking about next year’s entertainment programming formats, the network will to get off to a good start with the AO and the programming that follows looks sure to deliver consistency as promised by Nine. Having not been in Australia when SeaChange aired previously I can’t comment on this as a come-back but there seemed to be mixed reactions to this so it will be interesting to see how well it does.

What did you think of 9Voyager?

It will certainly not replace the role of agencies but will hopefully drive some incremental revenue for the network and, by encouraging SMEs to spend on TV, be a good thing for TV as a whole.

Where is Nine at with addressability? Are they the leaders in this space?

Nine’s addressable TV offering is exciting and a very positive step but there is still a long way to go in this space from a scale perspective.

Is there anything more you would have liked to have seen?

I would like to have heard more about the Fairfax merger, it was touched on but no further detail other than what we already know from previous announcements.

Ashley Earnshaw, chief investment officer, Amplifi

Thoughts on the content lineup?

They certainly put on a very slick upfronts. They got the balance between a focus on content and partnerships, automation and the effectiveness side as well. You came out with a really good sense of the vision they’ve got.

Their messaging around that pivot from a TV business to more of a content business was really clear and they didn’t do well on network share too badly.

The content for next year had a good blend of kind of existing strong brands but also some new content that both coming back and obviously the tennis which is a major pivot in the Australian market.

The upfronts have changed. As media agencies I don’t think we’re looking for that sugar-rush, I don’t think we need to see new things. I think importantly now we need strong content platforms to address with our brands but also we need a more strategic approach to activating for clients, and I was pleased that the focus was on sharing those existing strong content platforms.

What do you think of 9Voyager?

It’s important for growth. It’s pleasing to see a business being able to offer a new solution for SMEs and not trying to unpick existing solutions for SMEs. It was a nice blend of confidence around their own platform but confidence in a new technology solution that enables SMEs rather than try to unpick their existing strategies with partners. Let’s see what that looks like. Galaxy has had a good record, they have a good record in technology, I look forward to seeing what they can add to the market.

Where did you think Nine is at with addressability?

Addressability and moving towards people based marketing is important to some clients. It’s important for our clients to some of the marketing mix, I don’t think it’s the answer to everything.

It’s important that they’ve got a solution we were able to activate the clients in a reliable, frictionless and effective way. The announcements they’d have about effectiveness are just as important for clients.

The marriage between high-level branding, bottom of the funnel targeting and then the effectiveness piece over it, those things together are important for clients.

Is there anything else you would have like to have seen?

I have to say no. They touched on the Fairfax brand well, the reality is it can only go so far at this stage anywhere.

The blend of content, technology, proven effectiveness and some of their new offerings for 2019, there was a good harmony between it all.

Victor Corones, managing director of IPG’s Magna-Global

Thoughts on the content lineup?

Nine went to great lengths to position its strong programming line-up whilst acknowledging they were prepared to learn and improve existing programme formats.

Love Island’s move from 9GO to the main channel should work. The sporting line up is really strong and diverse with codes such as Tennis, NBL, international Cricket, NRL and Netball.

Nine acknowledged audience’s disappointment of not having a winner within Ninja Warrior so have made a number of changes to the format which should excite its fan base in 2019.

The nostalgic movement which is rebooting old TV franchises is a global phenomenon which allows consumers to remember happier, safer and maybe even simpler times.  Seeing SeaChange on the 2019 slate, whilst a surprise, does make sense. They key will be capturing the imagination of a new generation not previous exposed to the show, but it definitely has potential to re-ignite its old fan base.

Nine’s new drama Bad Mothers has an incredible, well credentialed cast which should attract strong interest from viewers in 2019.  Melissa George’s involvement will bring great appeal and hype to the show when it launches.

What did you think of 9Voyager?

A product aimed squarely at SMEs has the potential to create a new or improved revenue stream for the group. I see this as another key building block fuelling Nine’s overall transition to be a more future facing media organisation breaking down potential trading barriers.

They want to make it easier for direct client to trade with the group across their ever-expanding capabilities within TV and digital. We understand removing friction is key as a pathway for growth and success. Make it too hard to transact and you’ve lost the battle for revenue in the long term.  Recognising this as a vulnerability and gap, when compared to the global digital players, is a smart step in the right direction.

Where is Nine at with addressability?

Nine are leading the charge and dialogue around addressability. They’ve recognised the importance of declared users as their backbone of their data strategy which will ultimately help to unlock addressability capabilities further down the track.  With the pending Fairfax merger that should add additional scale and capability across this group beyond Nine’s 7 million declared users.

What’s important is not about who’s leading.  For addressability to be a real scalable solution that can compete with the likes of the global digital players  it needs to be broader than one network with even greater alignment on a number of fronts. I definitely feel the TV networks are working more collaboratively than in previous years which is really encouraging.  We are in the early stages with this new opportunity.

The initial stages will help inform and size up opportunities for clients. Getting to full activation of addressability is still a little way off but seems feasible within the next six to 12 months. Once the data is made available everyone will better understand these opportunities.

Is there anything more you would have liked to have seen?

I would have liked to see some details around their promotional efforts and how they intend to attract consumers to their 2019 slate.

The market is keen to understand what the opportunities will be with Fairfax but appreciate its still a little too early for that to be known.

Joanna Barnes, head of trading, PHD Melbourne

Thoughts on the content lineup?

SeaChange is a program that will resonate with older audiences that naturally is a good fit for TV.  However, Nine will need to raise awareness and promote the program to the next generation as they won’t have the history of the show. Nine’s programming slate for 2019 looks solid across all genres building on some of the big ticket programmes this year.

What did you think of 9Voyager?

An interesting proposition for SMEs.

Where is Nine at with addressability?

Still early days and needs to be tested, certainly their approach to drive change in the market is recognised.

Is there anything more you would have liked to have seen?

Nine unveiled their new strategy late last year which has worked well for them so really 2019 is about consistency, 9Galaxy in particular has been well executed and we are seeing great results across a number of our clients campaigns – this will continue to evolve in 2019 and PHD will be at the forefront of testing.

Nicola Lewis, chief investment officer, Group M

Thoughts on the content lineup?

The stand out for me was that their core entertainment programming. They are putting a lot of focus on their big content franchises and are going to make some changes to those, which is good because there is a lot of positivity around the big franchises.

There is confidence around the Love Island property and it’s clear that it was a success for Nine last year bringing a new demographic into the ecosystem. The move to bring Love Island to the main channel is an interesting one, and differs to the UK Love Island strategy where it has stayed on digital channels.

What did you think of 9Voyager?

Pitching a self-service model to SMEs could be a good avenue to bring new advertisers into a television advertising environment – much like the way we see our Finecast addressable TV platform as an opportunity for smaller, or niche advertisers, for whom TV has traditionally not been effective, to advertise in a television environment. What a self-serve platform to buy ad spots can’t do is replace a campaign strategy, and strategic planning and channel selection.

Where is Nine at with addressability? Are they the leaders in this space?

The Nine User ID is compelling and robust proposition. Having just launched Finecast, GroupM’s addressable TV product, we know that addressability is the future of television, and we see Nine’s offering as complementary to Finecast.

Michael Stephenson talked about making trading easier and anything that evolves the ease of trading in the market is a positive step, and the ability trade Nine Now alongside the Galaxy environment is something we will educate and inform our clients about.

They have incredibly strong foundations to expand the data proposition should the Fairfax merger go ahead.


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