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The Australian Media Industry: Further Observations

Here at the Australasian Media & Broadcasting Congress, we now move on to another media industry panel, involving a number of the speakers of the day as well as Jason Paris from TV New Zealand. Some 12-18 months ago, New Zealand launched a FreeView service similar to what's soon coming to Australia, and this service has now achieved 10% penetration; TVNZ also launched an online catch-up service similar to the ABC's iView which now generates 300,000 hours of viewing per month, was the first broadcaster in Australasia to launch a YouTube channel, operated a YouTube live debate between the political leaders in the recent elections, partnered with Bebo, and offered four simultaneous live channels covering the recent Olympics online in addition to the TV channels, generating 360,000 viewing hours. It also offered a choice between ad-supported and for-pay online options, and ad-supported content won hands down (at a ratio of 70,000:1).

(Peter Cox now runs through a further few statistics on advertising expenditure in Australia and elsewhere - showing strong online advertising in the UK, and Australia still lagging far behind.)

Tony Surtees notes developments in countries with excellent broadband infrastructure (e.g. South Korea) - for example the significant proportion of online retail sales as part of overall retail (and notes that if necessarily physical, non-mailorder goods - e.g. fuel - are taken out of the mix, this proportion is even higher). In India, with good high-speed broadband in some areas, there now is a possibility for direct-to-cinema streaming of Bollywood movies, and this opens up an option for real-time feedback which could end up allowing audiences to choose one of several pre-recorded movie endings on the fly.

Peter Cox also shows some figures showing the performance of various components of the film industry - interestingly, revenues from DVD sell-through have grown above the average growth rate for the media industry, even in spite of movie 'piracy'. (Or, as Gerry Gouy suggests, perhaps even because of it, as such 'piracy' is also a significant means of advertising.)

Further, there's a question from the audience about how advertising sales teams are organised in different media companies; generally, there appears to be a shift towards integrated approaches which handle broadcast as well as online advertising - and TVNZ as the major player in New Zealand seems to be doing particularly well here, being able to sustain good advertising fees in online as well as broadcast environments.

There's also a question on how to measure the performance of converged advertising campaigns - how do we do that online advertising is effective? Robbee Minicola answers that this is almost impossible to answer, as the mutual reinforcement may be key here. What can perhaps be measured is where the call to action (CTA) was felt, and how the eventual purchase by the customer was made; it's also possible to track the performance of older transmedia advertising campaigns (with specific splits across different media platforms) and on this basis to project the performance of future campaigns, and there's a point of diminishing returns at which any further spending in a specific medium no longer generates a significant further boost in effectiveness. Then again, there will always be new media forms to be added to the mix - so the potential of such projections is limited.

Tony Surtees notes that the traditional advertising model is 'pay for performance' (online very directly as par per click). But in building a brand online, what is now necessary is to test engagement, to track how strongly users promote brands to other users (as a form of viral marketing), and this is far more indirect. Gerry Gouy suggests as a site worth following in this regard, but Robbee Minicola also notes that the US ABC is not partnering with that site, in order to retain its hard-fought brand identity and to not commoditise itself. In order to measure performance in the new multi-channel FreeView environment, in fact, she suggests that it would be useful to introduce a uniform blanket advertising system across all 15 FreeView channels at least for the time being, to measure effectiveness across all channels before worrying about the effectiveness of advertising on any one individual channel...

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