Boomtown’s Brian Gallagher on the changed narrative of regional Australia

Boomtown sca

• Gallagher also talks about the importance of the IMAA and the consolidation of the market

With Australia beginning to open up again following the Covid-19 pandemic, Boomtown, the million-dollar regional trade marketing campaign, believes it is in a good position to drive even more ad spend into regional Australia,

Mediaweek caught up with Boomtown chairman and SCA chief sales officer, Brian Gallagher, at the Independent Media Association of Australia’s (IMAA) Operation Bounceback event last week to talk about the state of regional advertising, the importance of independent agencies, and the future.

“The public migration of audiences and the interest in regional has changed the narrative about regional markets,” said Gallagher. “The narrative used to be about drought, flood, and agriculture, which is a big part of the Australian economy. Agriculture takes place in regional markets but there’s a whole community of activity and a whole economy of activity around that, that is well beyond agriculture and the impacts of drought and flood. The narratives turned around from being solely about that to other things about the quality of life, vibrant economies and growth.”

Gallagher believes that Boomtown can’t be held solely responsible for the increased interest in regional Australia, with the pandemic increasing Australia’s interest in areas outside of metro Australia.

“Boomtown is not very responsible for all that press, that is societally related due to the impacts of what we’ve seen through the lockdowns. In the last month, television revenue growth interregional was higher than the television revenue growth in metro areas. There are some good reasons for that, practical reasons around the level of government spending, but we never used to see that. 

“Savvy media planners are right across what’s going on in their communities and right across what’s going on in the economy. There’s been a massive stream of news and press about migration over the last few years and work from home is tied up in it, work-life balance is tied up in it, cost of living is tied up in it, and happiness is tied up in that. I wouldn’t say that a global pandemic has been advantageous, for many reasons, it’s been a handbrake on a lot of things. If there’s any good that can come out of it for this collective, it’s that it has shone a light on the quality of life.”

Going regional

With the country opening up, it now also allows Boomtown to get boots on the ground with Gallagher saying that they are hoping to start taking decision-makers from the industry to regional parts of Australia soon.

“At SCA, we charted a small plane and took a planeload of clients out to orange for a couple of nights last year, just before the second lockdown. That trip was fantastic. We took agency folk, their clients, chief marketing officers, and marketing managers, and we toured local businesses. We examined the local economy, and we looked at the vibrancy in the market.”

Boomtown working with the IMAA

When asked about the importance of working with independent agencies, Gallagher said that it was extremely important to work with the agencies like the ones that make up the IMMA, due to how much of the market they occupy.

“The level of expenditure that we get from that group is enormous and a lot of their clients are large-mid and mid-sized clients who stand to benefit from increasing their distribution to their media. Getting that message out to the IMAA is critically important. I wouldn’t differentiate the message that’s got to go to the IMAA and the message to consortiums. Some of the largest clients aren’t using regional media platforms as well as some of the smaller clients are. Some of the smaller clients tend to be a little bit more nimble in the way that they see their data. They tend to be a little bit more across the nuance. That’s why I think the tools around the Boomtown Media Hub, are pretty important because it just allows you to kind of get a crystal clear view of which markets you need to be buying.”

A new makeup of regional players

In recent times, the makeup of regional media players in Australia has undergone a drastic overhaul with Prime being bought by Seven West Media and Grant Broadcasting being bought by HT&E (owner of ARN). Gallagher said that early indications are positive from both companies.

“The metro companies actually have a dog in the fight now. For them, supporting all their markets is profitable. I expect that the momentum around Boomtown will continue. I’ve spoken to each of those firms in relation to their support of Boomtown and they’re all indicating that they are strongly behind the concept.”

The future of Boomtown

When asked about what lies ahead, Gallagher said that there are a lot of short and long term plans on the horizon that will build on what Boomtown has already achieved. 

“There are conversations to be had amongst the collective around things like automation and being able to access audiences. It’s more of a long term view but how can we make the buying of regional media even easier again. There are also audience measurement enhancement discussions that we can be having down the track. In the shorter term, we need more case studies and more proof of the return on investment that brands get when they advertise. A very big focus this year will be on releasing case studies that show proof.

See one example here: Boomtown reveal impressive sales and growth for San Remo pasta in regional Australia

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