Flat White

Shop local, help our media industries survive

29 April 2020

7:30 PM

29 April 2020

7:30 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a generational turning point.  The global disruption the virus has caused to consumers, business and media has not been seen in the modern era.   

With change of this magnitude the downstream effect on those most acutely impacted become obvious very quickly – restaurants, retail, airlines, cinemas, cafes, gyms and the wider events and entertainment sector are clearly on the frontline  

It’s not until the dust starts to settle that the less visible impacts begin to emerge.   

Free-to-air television and the local publishing industry have faced growing challenges over the last two decades, from pay television and social media, to streaming services and gaming. YouTube and other social streaming platforms have made serious inroads into people’s living rooms and smartphones, shaking up the traditional television market  

For advertisers, fragmentation of media consumption has made it harder to access audiences at scale, and the cancellation of marquee sporting events such as the Olympics, AFL and the NRL only compounds the issue.  

While TV audiences throughout the COVID lockdown are increasing on entertainment content, the absence of bankable audiences on live sport creates a new challenge for advertisers wanting to reach TV audiences at scale.   


Rapid audience growth across broadcaster video-on-demand platforms — BVOD — has accelerated during the lockdown and offsets part of the challenge. Sport has always been a magnet for light TV viewers and hard to reach male audiences, and its prolonged absence threatens to accelerate brand spend into social video platforms.  

The Australian television industry invests over $1 billion annually into local content production, fuelling our creative communities and amplifying our local culture and voice. If advertisers default to global social platforms vs the premium content of our national TV industry, the revenue streams of our local broadcast, publishing, creative and production ecosystem will be jeopardised at a time when we’re all being encouraged to ‘shop local’.  

Putting aside noble motives of supporting our local industry, the risk for advertisers is that a heavy reliance on global social and search platforms exposes their campaign performance to bias due to the vested media interests of those platforms.    

Rather than placing advertisements based on where data shows a relevant audience is consuming content and is likely to respond, many global platforms are incentivized to direct advertising investment toward channels they have an affiliation with or ownership overNow more than ever, accountability, measurement, performance and return on ad spend are critical for brands, and objectivity should be a foundational component.  

Advertisers are starting to understand this. As they embrace data-driven decision making, they are prioritizing advertising opportunities that are measurable and comparable.  

The open internet, comprising thousands of Australian publishers offers the same audiences at scale and the rise of Connected TV (the fastest growing media segment in the country) allows for the streaming of quality Australian news, current affairs, drama, comedy and lifestyle programming from our local broadcast networks.   

By targeting this content and ’buying local’advertisers can support the domestic industry, while gaining the precision of knowing which audiences are consuming their ads, and how they are responding.  This kind of performance feedback and objectivity is simply not possible on today’s giant search and social platforms.  

The business I represent, The Trade Desk, and other demand side platforms (DSPs), match audiences with advertisers based on how the consumers themselves choose to enjoy their content This data-driven approach becomes increasingly important as advertisers work to understand where consumer attention is shifting during this crisis. And in choosing how to reach those consumers, they are starting to prioritize partners who have no vested ownership of media properties and have the independence to offer access to all advertising opportunities, not limited, preferred list.   

Importantly, with this approach advertisers retain full transparency on where their advertisements are showing up and the content they are supporting, and how the audience is responding.  

As the Prime Minister has reminded us, the current locked-down response to COVID-19 and the subsequent hard slog of economic recovery could take Australia well over 6 months.   

During this time it will be critical that our domestic broadcast and publishing industry is supported, just like any other local business.  Advertisers can play their part by thinking, acting and buying locally, supporting Australian jobs and communities to minimise the downside and accelerate our economic recovery 

James Bayes is Australia New Zealand general manager of The Trade Desk. 

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