Welcome to an audio-led edition of Unmade.
After the most gruelling Upfronts season yet, we wrap things up with the people whose verdicts matter - the media agency chief investment officers. Plus, we speak to SBS managing director James Taylor about the series of agenda-setting announcements made by the public broadcaster.
Further down, the recovery of the Unmade Index runs out of steam just before reaching the 600-point milestone.
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The most interesting, most unexpected and most meaningful upfronts - plus, who put on the best show?
Upfronts Season finally ends this afternoon, with the ABC announcing its content plans for 2024.
It’s been the longest one ever, kicking off during the first week of September with Nine’s Olympics-focused Upfronts taking over both the Hordern Pavilion and Hall of Industries in Sydney’s Moore Park, while Mamamia staked its claim as the primary conduit to reach women at an event at Doltone House in Pyrmont.
The same night it was back to Hordern Pavilion, where Google’s YouTube made the case for switching advertising dollars out of television during Brandcast.
The following day, magazine house Are Media hosted buyers for a more modest lunchtime event at the new wing of the Art Gallery of NSW, turning on the star power with an appearance from Matilda’s penalty scorer Cortnee Vine.
Then in October it was on to the Beta events space in Castlereagh Street, as Carsales extended its Open House event from their Melbourne base into Sydney.
A few days later, Seven puts its weight behind SXSW Sydney, returning to the ICC for its Upfronts, executive produced by chief marketing and audience officer Melissa Hopkins.
The next week saw Ooh Media and Foxtel Media both put their events in the hands of the weather gods.
Ooh’s Outfronts trip to Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens was rewarded with a scorching summer’s morning. Foxtel’s boat ride to Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour was a damper affair, although its blockbuster announcement of a breakaway audience measurement project wiped that from the memory.
Meanwhile, Paramount took a different approach to its Upfronts this year, taking the lead from its sister network in the United States, CBS, hosting smaller groups to talk about plans for Ten, Paramount+ and Tenplay, followed by Q&A sessions.
Between them, the media companies would have spent well in excess of $10m on letting the industry know their plans. So who told their stories best? We asked the media agencies’ chief investment officers.
GroupM CIO Melissa Hey, Spark Foundry CIO Lucie Jansen and Essencemediacom CIO Nick Thomas offered their takeaways in a special edition of the Unmade podcast hosted by Tim Burrowes.
Who exceeded expectations?
Foxtel’s challenger measurement system for OzTAM drew praise.
“I'm pretty excited about what Foxtel’s doing, just disrupting the industry and leading from the front, giving our clients and us as an agency so many opportunities to change the way that we've been approaching video,” Thomas shared.
“Paramount surprised me the most because I thought that you actually did get a lot more out of it. You go into it wondering how they're going to wow you in this small setting and I walked away very impressed and engaged with what they had to offer and what they're putting on the table because of that intimate setting, and because we were able to ask questions and interact. They were answering questions that were being asked versus just going up on stage,” Hey says.
Thomas agrees: “At the big parties, you're never going to get that honest, direct conversation and feedback loop that you're going to have in the smaller groups.”
Sport was pegged as one sector of the market that the CIO’s were particularly excited about after seeing all the upfronts.
“I think next year is going to be a really good, good year for sport. 2023, particularly with the Matildas, will only serve to help audiences in that space as well. Obviously, that probably plays more to the strength of Seven and Nine,” Jansen concludes.
Most meaningful technology announcement
A selection of new adtech products were rolled out at each network’s upfront - Seven’s Phoenix, Nine’s SME-focused Ad Manager, Paramount’s Shoppable TV and SBS Measure.
Hey argues that Phoenix “will be really important and a game changer on how we operate with Seven.” She adds: “What is actually interesting and how it's going to roll out and impact for the future is Nine's Ad Manager. Whilst they're saying it's for SMEs, how they're setting that up and using AI feels just the start of the journey.“
Thomas was excited about Ooh Media’s 2024 prospects and its new retail media screen network solution, Reooh.
“I think the premium Sydney product was a good strategic play to compete with the JCDecaux's and QMS's that are playing in the premium Sydney audience already. Everyone's talking retail. I think next year will probably be the year of retail. If you were a business and you wanted to set up a retail network, it's a plug and play product that you can use, which is great.”
‘We might be the first moving in this direction. We don't believe we'll be the last’
SBS’ upfronts came just after the podcast with the CIOs was recorded, so Unmade sat down with managing director James Taylor to get a better understanding of the broadcaster’s strategies and content slate for 2024.
Key announcements from the SBS Upfront included limitations on betting, booze and fast food ads, progress on sustainability promises, another season of Alone Australia (this time shot in New Zealand) and retaining the men's FIFA World Cup.
“We believe the purveyors of all products have a right to access audiences, particularly via a public broadcaster,” says Taylor. “This is, though, about providing value to both audiences and advertisers. If you think about on-demand environments generally, and SBS on-demand specifically, users are able to exhibit complete control over what they watch.
“Therefore, we want to extend that capacity to allow audiences to express a view about the advertising component as well. We might be the first moving in this direction. We don't believe we'll be the last.
“We think these three categories are a logical place to start. It's great for the audience because they get to provide us with information about their choices as opposed to us determining what we think they want.”
Taylor also expanded on long term plans to help bring the entirety of the SBS supply chain to net zero over the next 20 years.
“We rely on third parties and their carbon footprint to reach an audience member. So the timeline we've laid out, which is an aggressive timeline actually, and the most ambitious of any media player in the country, is really about us working with our supply chain to assist them in decarbonising their footprint.”
SBS Measure, which uses Experian data, was the new adtech product rolled out at the upfront. Taylor explained the product was a way to “reinforce our credentials as a place that is worthy of our customers' investment.”
And Taylor also explained why SBS is backing Foxtel’s breakaway TV audience measurement project.
“There’s nothing lacking with Oztam from my perspective, we remain committed and enthusiastic participants in Oztam. We back the currency. We think it's a well-needed and welcome development in free-to-air's capacity to create a compelling offer to advertisers. That said, SBS is not a market maker. It's a market taker. We participated in a market. You should expect us to be inquisitive about other marketplaces that other providers are seeking to establish, so that we can form a view about whether or not SBS has a place in their marketplace.”
The entire podcast can be heard via the player at the top of this page or on the podcatcher of your choice. Special thanks to Abe’s Audio for a great job on a complex edit.
Unmade Index dead flat
Seja Al Zaidi writes:
The Unmade Index was virtually flat yesterday, rising by just 0.1 percentage points to land at 593.8 points.
The board was led by IVE Group’s 2.37% rise in share price, while Nine lifted 0.26%. Enero Group rose 3.29%, and Sports Entertainment Group (owner of SEN) 5%.
Domain fell 1.63%, Ooh Media 0.37%, Southern Cross Austereo 0.53% and out of home minnow Motio lost 20%.
However, the green landing for the index does mean that it extended its run of pisitve trading days to eight.
Time to leave you to your Thursday. There’ll be no edition tomorrow as I’ll be in the air.
We’ll be back on Saturday with Best of the Week.
Editing was courtesy of Abe’s Audio, the people to talk to about voiceovers, sound design and podcast production.
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Have a great day.
Publisher - Unmade