Victorian Government to cease newspaper advertising within weeks

The Victorian Government will cease virtually all metropolitan print newspaper advertising from next month, in a multi-million-dollar blow to Nine Publishing and News Corp Australia.

Premier Daniel Andrews will today confirm the dramatic shift in its paid media strategy, citing a return to pre-pandemic levels of spend and a need to deliver taxpayers better bang for buck.

From 1 July, metropolitan newspaper ads will not be placed by the government unless required by law.

Television and digital advertising “will remain an important part of the government’s advertising agenda”, a government spokesperson said.

The cost to Nine’s The Age and News Corp’s The Herald Sun is potentially significant.

In 2019-20, 14.7 per cent of the $84.6 million splashed on government ads went to newspaper spots, according to official documents. That’s roughly $12.4 million.

The year prior, of the $102.8 million spent in total, newspapers took a 13.2 per cent share of the pie, or about $13.5 million.

And based on the latest figures for 2021-22, which show a mammoth surge in spend due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to $150 million, papers grabbed 9.6% or about $14.4 million.

Both Nine and News Corp declined to comment. It’s understood the change was not expected.

Mumbrella understands Victorian Government bean counters based the decision on global trends that have seen public money shift away from newspapers on the back of declining circulations.

It’s possible Nine could recoup some of the lost press revenue via an increased spend across radio and television, and The Age will still be eligible for digital placement. Aside from possible digital ads on The Herald Sun, News Corp is far less well-positioned.

The Victorian Government will also continue a special focus on rural and regional messaging, including in available local press, which accounts for 20 per cent of all campaign spend, as well as dedicated multicultural messaging, which accounts for 10 per cent of spend – both exceeding set targets.

“Advertising is an important part of promoting the work of the government in our hospitals, our schools and kinders, our transport infrastructure projects and our $31.5b tourism sector – boosting our economy and creating jobs,” the government spokesperson said.

“We’re also finding kinder teachers to give our youngest Victorians the best start in life, hospital workers to look after Victorians, and the best people to build roads, remove level crossings and build the infrastructure a growing Victoria needs.

“As we return to pre-pandemic levels of annual advertising, and ensuring value for money, television and digital channels will remain an important part of the government’s advertising agenda.”

Victoria’s government advertising is purchased through a function known as Master Agency Media Services (MAMS), via a contract managed by Treasury.

OMD currently holds the MAMS contract.


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