SBS makes a rational - and emotional - case for taking ad share from its commercial rivals
Welcome to a Thursday edition of Unmade. Today, SBS pitches for a bigger slice of the marketing pie.
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SBS - is doing good also good brand campaign strategy?
So has the marketing world reached some sort of tipping point where being on the progressive side of history offers a commercial benefit?
That was one of the propositions offered to brands in last week’s What Good is Doing Good report from Leo Burnett.
And over recent months, the argument has increasingly become part of the sales pitch from media owners, arguing that purposefulness goes beyond merely a point of hygiene.
Ten has made the point over its last couple of Upfronts. WeAre8 has been putting forward the case (although admittedly the maths doesn’t really convince me) that any advertiser who gives them 6.5% of their social media budget automatically becomes carbon neutral.
And the dual message of yesterday’s SBS Upfront event was that marketers who shift their dollars in SBS’s direction get not just the rational benefit of an efficient buy, but also the emotional benefit of doing right by society. As media sales director Adam Sadler put it: “We invest in good.”
SBS’s sales efforts sit in an unusual place. Advertising only makes up about $130m of the organisation’s annual revenues. And the very presence of advertising on the service is still viewed with some suspicion by both free to air players and its own viewers. Advertising on SBS only arrived gradually, starting with programming sponsorship 30 years ago, then initially with ads to be allowed only between shows, and not before or after news content.
Gradually limitations eased on placement and the number of minutes per hour. Commercial free to air rivals also began to act less threatened by the part commercialisation of SBS as most of their competition began to come from streaming and elsewhere.
This week’s SBS Upfront was the biggest advertiser-focused event of its type that the multicultural organisation has done to date. As such, it will be an interesting natural experiment to examine whether the organisation increases its share of the FTA advertising market as a result.
The pitch itself was sensible. There was a reminder - timely given that ad-supported broadcast video on demand is having a moment - that SBS On Demand has a good catalogue, stable platform and is holding its own against its much bigger rivals. It says it has 11m registered users. The light commercial minutage probably helps with that. Based on OzTam data, its claims to be ahead of Paramount’s 10play across 2022. I wonder how much of that viewing is down to The Handmaid’s Tale, which has proved to be an inspired co-commission.
In a press briefing before the event, incidentally, SBS ruled out launching a subscription tier of the service.
On of the most popular franchises on SBS On Demand - the overseas version of wilderness survival contest Alone - will now form a commission of the main channel, with a Tasmania-shot version of Alone Australia already in the can.
It was one of several commissions which must be stretching SBS’s limited budget. They include:
Three dramas in thriller Safe Home, WW2 dramedy While the Men Are Away and (very SBS) Erotic Stories.
Asking for It, a documentary on consent in Australia;
Multicultural discussion Who The Hell Are We with John Safran, Cal Wilson and Adam Liaw;
Julia Zemiro in Great Australian Walks
There was nothing in the announcements that didn’t make sense. The transition from SBS Radio to SBS Audio follows the commercial radio market.
It was also an opportunity to remind the market of the scale of SBS’s multicultural audience reach in audio: 262 hours a week on content across 60 languages
The rational part of the argument to brand owners and media agency planners was that adding SBS to the schedule in combination with the commercial outlets offers an uplift in cost-of-reach efficiency. It claimed that shifting 10% of the TV budget to SBS would deliver 36% in savings.
The network more directly challenged its rivals than previously, arguing that for the most part, SBS viewers are not viewers of the main FTA channels.
And like the major players, SBS will also lean into automated TV trading, launching SBS Connect with the promise of making buying simpler.
Overall, it was a solid pitch: An interesting, inclusive and entertaining slate; a competitive catchup service and a risk free, feelgood way of shifting market budgets.
Looking at the impact of yesterday’s the event in coverage across the trade press today, I suspect SBS will take some share from its rivals.
Unmade Index flatlines at 700
The surging Unmade Index ran out of steam yesterday with almost as many stocks down as up. The index rose by just 0.1% to 704 points.
HT&E saw the biggest drop, falling by 4.8%, while Seven West Media had another day of growth, rising by 2.06%.
Time to leave you to your day. I’ll be back tomorrow with a chat with Ooh Media boss Cathy O’Connor.
If you’re in Melbourne, don’t forget to take a look at out Marketing in 2023 event, which is only two weeks away now. Click on the ad above to secure your ticket. If you’re a subscriber your secret code to get two free tickets is at the bottom of this email.
Have a great day.