Nine has been the first broadcaster to hold a 2021 Upfront. The virtual event is of course how anybody holds a gathering these days and perhaps it will become the new norm. Will the party atmosphere be replaced by a more cost-effective and direct way to spread the message to where it really needs to hit home – agencies and marketers who decide where to invest to spread their messages?
Apart from no physical interaction with the audience, the main difference this year was that talent largely got the night off. Save for a late Zoom bombing from Hamish Blake, the Nine programming highlights were delivered by the sales and marketing team.
Nine pre-recorded its Upfront at a hired Sydney studio, apart from Hugh Mark’s presentation from the new Nine integrated newsroom in North Sydney.
Another change was the time – after dabbling with most of an afternoon several years ago, the Nine Upfront was a very manageable 50 minutes. Good work! The audience of 4,000+ registrations thanks you.
The event started with Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson with help from Today’s Allison Langdon who welcomed the online guests to the virtual studio. Stephenson painted a big picture about Nine’s dominance and noted that given the size of the reach, “Nine is now officially a premium alternative to Facebook and Google”.
Nine director of sales – digital and publishing Nick Young then did some of the heavy lifting, taking people through the global first long-term partnership with Adobe for integration into Adobe Audience Management.
Young explained Coles is Nine’s first partner to upload customer data sets. Young also used a number of slides to illustrate how Nine print and digital news brands The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review reach more Australians than comparable News Corp Australia brands.
A session on Powered from director of Powered Linda Dubois included an introduction to Powered Enterprise. She used examples of successful campaigns run by Kmart, hi pages, Uber Eats, Mitre 10, KFC, ANZ and McDonald’s and used quotes from some of those company’s marketing chiefs.
Nine director of sales television and radio Richard Hunwick explained the new radio offering and how it was part of “content that makes an impact”. He also ran a lengthy promo with highlights of all the Nine Radio breakfast shows.
Half an hour into the event it was time to delve into the programming with Nine’s director of commercial partnerships Lizzie Young taking over after a highlights reel. “More depth and diversity,” Young promised as she explained the market should be ready for 15 months of compelling programming. The rest of this year includes the NRL Finals and three State of Origin clashes. Young also pointed to The Block auctions on Sunday November 22 and some of the exclusives coming to 9Now.
Nine echoed what CEO Hugh Marks told Mediaweek last month, that casting Married at First Sight on Zoom had helped deliver them a great 2021 cast.
Nine then reinforced the Nine News offering and how, when mixed with Nine Radio and Nine Publishing, “now more than ever, Australian turns to Nine – premium and trusted brands”.
The news network promises it reaches more Australians than anyone else can across all platforms – digital, radio, print and television.
“News is our biggest commitment,” thundered the voice over. “Courageous, honest journalism you can trust – local, statewide and national.”
CEO Hugh Marks appeared 45 minutes into the Upfront, speaking from inside Nine’s new integrated newsroom in North Sydney. “I am so proud of what we have built,” he started. “We see its strength when things like Covid happen due to the depth and diversity of our market-leading assets. I am so proud of our team who without doubt are the best in the business. They have responded to the challenge they have had to overcome every single day. Why do we challenge ourselves every single day? Because we love it. It’s in our blood – a passion for media that drives us to be the best, to lead and innovate and to continually strive for fresh and original. We never rest on our laurels which at the end of the day would be the easy way to go, but it’s not us.
“Our ambition to be better, to be a better partner, to provide more value and to extend our relationship has never been stronger.
“We just need you to embrace what Nine can provide and to be open and transparent with what you want to achieve. To engage when it matters beyond the transaction to also want to be our partner. To really be able to activate the full benefit of what we have built.
“We have the largest audiences across all our media platforms – audiences that engage with what we do with a passion.
“We have the most advanced marketing solutions which you should all embrace. We are continuing to innovate in that space to make business with us easier. We have a data asset second to none in domestic media by a longshot and with our new Adobe partnership even more potential to extract real value from that in real time in a way that not even Google and Facebook can offer you.
“More than ever you need a marketing partner to work alongside you to navigate this ever-changing world to get you the best outcomes. One you can trust, one with real scale and influence when it really counts.
“More than ever, that partner is Nine.”