2015 National Radio Conference highlights

By James Manning

The National Radio Conference likes to start its day with input from the current communications minister and that happened this year with the new minister Mitch Fifield providing a video which kicked off proceedings.

Understandably there were no major statements from the new Government, yet the minister did shine the light on what might happen.

The regulatory settings for media ownership are another area where the Government is considering potential reform,” said Fifield.

“I will continue to consult with industry on potential changes to the media ownership rules, continuing conversations initiated by the former minister in 2014.

“While it will be important to achieve a level of broad consensus among stakeholders before proceeding with any changes, unanimity across the industry may be difficult to achieve given the commercial realities.”

The day’s first session featured ad man Sean Cummins who is the global CEO for Cummins&Partners. He offered many insights gleaned from an impressive career and played some of his company’s great work and the commercial outcomes it has helped drive.

The session after morning tea tested the stamina of attendees with a longish three hours and 15 minutes with four sessions on owned, earned and paid media plus one promising to lift the lid on programmatic.

Recently appointed MCN journalist Paul McIntyre moderated a session about the new worlds of sponsored content with three ad executives and Southern Cross Austereo’s chief digital enablement officer Vijay Solanki.

ZenithOptimedia CEO Ian Perrin set the tone early with a note that the fancy new names were simply dressing up long established practices. “We have reclassified them.” He added, “Paid, owned and earned need to work together to solve clients problems. Ten years ago every campaign started with a 60-second TV spot. That is no longer the case. Agencies are working to fuse paid, owned and earned together in order to solve problems. Increasingly the better media companies are not thinking about paid first, but thinking about solutions first and how they come across against those three classifications.”

Perrin even introduced discussion about “leveraged media” later in the session with an example about a deal they were involved in that brought together Heineken and Uber.

OMD’s head of interactive Dan Robbins noted that more brands might move into the content space if ad blockers begin to really take hold. He noted that so far, despite lots of media coverage, the numbers are small.

He noted the difference now from the past was the data. “Advertisers now have the ability to target people, but more importantly there is accountability for the different channels and being able to draw a far clearer picture of what works.”

Mumbrella editor Alex Hayes moderated a session promising to “lift the lid” on programmatic.

Carat CEO Simon Ryan said his agency was striving to be 100% digital by 2010.

The Newspaper Works CEO Mark Hollands said media agencies accounted for 30% of advertising revenues and that he saw programmatic as taking the friction out of the buying process.

NEC’s group sales and marketing director Peter Wiltshire said people need to remember that programmatic dollars are not new money. It is advertising money that has shifted, “not a pot of gold that has popped up”. As to concerns that programmatic might lead to the need for fewer people to be involved in the buying process, Wiltshire said NEC had actually added staff.

Bringing a radio perspective to the discussion, Nova Entertainment CEO Cathy O’Connor said: “Our approach has been to try lots of different things.” They have started to trade their video inventory. “We are getting much better yields. Video is a high demand product so demand pricing helps and we have been very encouraged by the results. The lesson for us is how do we generate more video while the demand is there.”

As to the question on employee numbers, O’Connor added: “I can’t see a reduction in sales staff.”

She said the bigger radio question is what is the industry proposition around programmatic. “Is it necessary and if so what does it look like? We should be encouraged that there are three CEOs from the FM networks that have deep sales, marketing and agency experience in Australia.

“The question then for the industry is what are the entry levels. Are there things we should do individually or should we do something together?”

Midway during the session, Ryan noted, “It is important that everybody knows that programmatic doesn’t always mean cheap.

“It is about efficiency, it is about audience, in actual fact it is also about the data and getting a better response for the advertiser. If an advertiser is getting a more meaningful response and getting return on investment then often they might be prepared to pay a little more.

“The radio industry in Australia needs to give it a try and see how they go.”

When asked if the rolling eight-week diary system is enough for audience measurement, Ryan replied more needs to be done.

The most entertaining session of the day was the discussion about how social media had turned radio personalities into brands that could operate 24/7 via their social media accounts.

Moderator Sam Mac started proceedings asking the guests how they managed their social media accounts.

Nova Sydney breakfast co-host Ryan Fitzgerald talked about the difference between individual accounts and their show accounts. “With my individual account I like to stay away from work as much as I can. We also put a lot into the Fitzy and Wippa account and it has been very beneficial in getting content out. There is a science around it with various platforms.” He then gave examples about how they used different platforms.

Fifi Box also said she ran private and work accounts. “The landscape has changed very dramatically. I also consume a lot which is where I get a lot of content. It is important to have a differentiation about what the show is trying to achieve and what is true to your own personality.

“You have to be authentic and genuine. If anything goes out on the Fifi and Dave Twitter or Instagram feed and it doesn’t sit well with me then that’s a real problem.”

She learnt much about the pitfalls and possibilities that social media offers during her time on the SCA Fifi and Jules drive show.

2GB’s Ben Fordham noted that when he arrived at 2GB five years ago he was the only person at the station on Twitter. “Not even the station had a Twitter account.

I use it as a resource to find material and to find people and information when big news is breaking.

Fordham talked about how he enjoys watching The Bachelor and keeping up with Twitter on a second stream.

Charli Robinson, now on the Gold Coast, was working on the Today Network’s Hot 30 when Twitter was growing. “It was a way for us to become friends with our listeners. This has become so important. It’s almost like if you don’t have lots of likes now it’s not going to happen [for you].”

She also related how a simple misstep can attract much hate from social media “friends” too.

ACRA winners

See mediaweek.com.au for full list of winners and what happened during the awards

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