Nine Upfront 2024: Media buyers reveal what impressed and stood out to them

They also discussed the biggest selling points of the presentation and what it means for advertising spend

Nine took over Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion on Wednesday for its 2024 Upfront.

The network showcased its outlook and solutions for the year ahead, including new and returning content, commercial and investment revelations, and innovations in user experiences.

Nine Upfront 2024 Hero Image

After the big presentation, attendees were shepherded across to The Royal Hall of Industries for a lavish afterparty, where guests were later treated to an incredible set by The Presets.

Media buyers from holding companies and independent agencies shared their thoughts and opinions with Mediaweek about the biggest selling points of the presentation, what it means for advertising spend, the potential impact of the innovations and, of course… the Olympics.

Lucy Formosa Morgan, managing director, Magna Global

Lucy Formosa Morgan

MW: What were the biggest selling points of the presentation?
LFM: It was a strong pitch and showed off their depth of offering and capabilities. Obviously, the Olympics is their big-ticket for next year and they’re clearly looking to leverage and monetize it across all of their assets.
Bringing Domain and Stan’s audience data into Nine Tribes is a smart move
, particularly given they’re still holding out on bringing in an ad supported model for Stan.
Much as we’ve seen Nine launch an SMB product before, I think the updated product, with the addressable targeting capabilities will be attractive for those clients who previously may have struggled to create video content.

MW: What are your thoughts on Nine’s investment in primetime content versus Olympic content?

LFM: I have no doubt there wasn’t anyone who walked away from the upfront unsure about who was the broadcaster is for the next Olympics! Given the breadth of Nine’s offering across all channels (bar OOH), you’d expect to see a halo effect benefiting its full ecosystem; it’ll also give Nine a great springboard to showcase their H2 programming and attract broader demos / audiences to 9NOW.
Once you take away the Olympics, I didn’t think there was that much new content bar lifestyle. I know that talks to consistency with returning shows and franchises however I did expect to see more new content. For me, there wasn’t a stand-out blockbuster, bar the 2-week window of the Olympics.
Running first seasons of some of Stan’s exclusive content on Nine to hook in viewers before pushing them back to Stan is a good move though to drive trial of content.

MW: How do you feel about the incorporation of new technology and innovation into this year’s offering, and does it make Nine an attractive investment?

LFM: Strategically I think Nine are well placed with the direction they’re taking their product and digital offering.

The Olympics is clearly a massive opportunity to attract greater user level details via login mechanisms, which they’ll be able to leverage across their broader publishing network.

The announcements around their ‘Start Over’ feature, programming curation capabilities and reducing ad clutter on certain programming on 9NOW, confirms they’re looking to take on their SVOD / AVOD competitors.

The SMB self-serving AI platform, although not entirely new, has been given a serious facelift and is an interesting proposition, particularly for those clients who don’t have large budgets or want help getting their messaging out there without the help of an agency.

Although not Nine specific, when VOZ Streaming launches with its unified ID, it’ll attract more attention. The urgency for the networks though, will be expanding it out beyond just Seven, Nine & Ten.

Nine Upfront 2014 VOZ Streaming

MW: Was there anything that stood out to you that might move the needle on the amount advertisers spend with Nine?

LFM: Without seeing the other networks upfronts yet, it’s hard to make a definitive call however I would think that Nine has a head start. 

From a share perspective they’ve had a strong year this year so far, which helps set them up going into 2024. They’ve got scale when it comes to their footprint, digital strategy and of course being the Olympics broadcaster in an Olympics year. They’re well placed to kick conversations off with clients about 2024.

Chris Solomon, Mindshare Melbourne MD 

Chris Solomon

MW: What were the biggest selling points of the presentation?
CS: Nine set out their strategy to be Australia’s Media Company last year and have kept pushing hard toward this. Total TV, Total Audio and Publishing. They have wide reach and have continued to push for quality programming and new formats to keep audiences and advertisers engaged. This came through clearly in this year’s upfronts.

The tentpole for 2024 will be the Olympics and Paralympics sponsorship, for the next five Olympics and Paralympics, taking them from Paris in 2024 to Brisbane in 2032. 

As always Nine do the Upfronts well, kicking off Upfronts season with a big show.

MW: What are your thoughts on Nine’s investment in primetime content versus Olympic content?

CS: Nine are framing their approach to content around: Entertainment Seekers, Sport enthusiasts, News Explorers with a strong strategic approach to content in each of these pillars.

In sport – the clear highlight is Olympics and Paralympics.

In Entertainment – The Block turns 20. MAFS. Lego Masters are recurring favourites, plus new content including, Food Stars, a new Gordon Ramsey show, and running some of the hit shows from Stan on free to air TV will provide new interest in the content slate.

New game show ‘Tipping Point’ seemed to be positioned as a strategy to get audiences viewing earlier before the evening news and keep them on Nine through the news and into key evening programming like The Block.

Nine Upfront 2024 Tipping Point Australia - Todd Woodbridge

Todd Woodbridge

MW: How do you feel about the incorporation of new technology and innovation into this year’s offering, and does it make Nine an attractive investment?

CS: As always, Nine’s data and tech focus is impressive – extending Audience+, focussing on Ecommerce and growing first party data integration with key CDP players in market to work with brands existing data platforms offers scale, greater privacy and data safety assurance.

Audience+ and the bringing together of Tribes, Nine Now, Publishing Data and Audio Data builds scale and will allow us as agencies to better target across Nine’s network. Data integrations with Snowflake and Tealium will allow brands and agencies to connect into Nine’s network with more certainty and trust.

Pedestrian TV, will be interesting, as it provides an edgy youth driven platform for Nine Now and brings it closer into the Nine ecosystem.

MW: Was there anything that stood out to you that might move the needle on the amount advertisers spend with Nine?

CS: The big differentiator will be the Olympics and Paralympics which will be strong propositions in the years ahead, and the upgrades to Nine Now such as HD, Live Play on Open, and the create your own home page experience will provide an improved viewing experience for audiences.

Laura Dodds, general manager of Client Partners & Investment, Slingshot

MW: What were the biggest selling points of the presentation?

LD: We’ve been conditioned to expect big news and revelations every year from our media partners’ Upfronts, but it’s just not reality. While it might have felt like there wasn’t a lot of new news from Nine, it’s evident their main focus is content. They have a solid stable of returning content and a huge array of sport led by the Olympics.

Nine’s biggest sell for 2024 and beyond is the Olympics and how it will underpin much of their content across TV, audio and publishing. They demonstrated a well-considered approach to the Olympic experience being a comprehensive, unified, and integrated offering, making it attractive to audiences and advertisers alike.

MW: What are your thoughts on Nine’s investment in primetime content versus Olympic content?

LD: Rather than trying to launch a slew of new, untested tentpole programming, Nine have invested heavily in the Olympics and weaving it into as many of their legacy programs as possible. It’s a more conservative approach but capitalises on the current momentum around sport driven by the Matilda’s success and works their investment harder.

The cross-pollination of Stan first season content appearing on Nine’s main channel is a smart strategy, filling the Nine slate with proven performers while also driving subscribers for Stan.

MW: How do you feel about the incorporation of new technology and innovation into this year’s offering, and does it make Nine an attractive investment?

LD: Nine’s focus on data, technology and innovation could offer immediate advantages and long-term growth opportunities for our clients, aligning well with our investment strategy that values innovation alongside profitability.

Some of the announcements were builds on existing foundations. Features like Start Over on 9Now were mentioned at last year’s Upfront, though this assumes Nine are achieving what they set out to do.

Other offerings like Audience Plus coupled with Audience Match’s integration with Snowflake and Tealium mean enhanced capabilities in both audience targeting and data utilisation. As an agency that prioritises precise audience targeting and leverages first-party data, these features are invaluable to us.

Nine’s industry collaboration in VOZ Streaming offers a powerful tool for streamlining cross-platform media inventory, a crucial factor for our planning and optimisation efforts.

The AI creative capabilities within Nine’s new Ad Manager platform are interesting, especially for the potential to democratise video advertising. While the platform lowers entry barriers for smaller businesses who may have been deterred by cost or lack of video assets, it does raise concerns about the platform’s brand safety measures and putting cost-efficiency ahead of quality.

MW: Was there anything that stood out to you that might move the needle on the amount advertisers spend with Nine?

LD: Nine spoke of growth, but based on the current market we are experiencing I think the content, technology and innovation offerings play more to retention of both audiences and advertiser investment.

It feels like Nine are consolidating, having set themselves up for a solid year with plenty of safe bets, versus rolling the dice on new content and technology plays.

As for the Upfront event itself, it stood out as one of the more fiscally responsible Upfronts in recent years. Appropriately so in current times. Nine managed to celebrate their content and year ahead in a way that ‘read the room’.

Lorraine Woods, Head of Trading, Atomic 212°

Nine Upfront 2024 - Lorraine Woods

MW: What were the biggest selling points of the presentation?

LW: Nine being home to the Olympics and Paralympics really sells itself. Nine highlighted the strength of its unified media ecosystems and how over the next 12 months their comprehensive, innovative and unique coverage of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will provide a remarkable experience for the viewer, who can personalise their viewing and will have no shortage of choice on how and where to watch.

They have created compelling and effective opportunities for brands to align with and be a part of the excitement that will be the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They demonstrated superbly the powerhouse they are through the unity of their platforms, how they work together and how they work harder for advertisers.

See also: Nine Upfront 2024: 9Now announces new advertising products for brands in preparation for their Olympics coverage

MW: What are your thoughts on Nine’s investment in primetime content versus Olympic content?

LW: The Olympics will really set the foundation for Nine’s digital and content strategy for the next 10 years and Nine did an impressive job demonstrating how they will maximise investment between 2024 and the Brisbane Olympics.

Nine also showcased the continuous solid line up they have worked hard over the years to perfect. The fact they lean into their own audience and insights to determine what content they create and run reinforces their position that they will continue to work to future proof their assets and viewership, no matter what the platform.

I saw no real gaps in their line up and they have played it pretty safe with most of their returning programs. I like that they are weaving the Olympics through their everyday shows.


MW: How do you feel about the incorporation of new technology and innovation into this year’s offering, and does it make Nine an attractive investment?

LW: Nine continues to evolve their data and technology offering every year, getting smarter and more sophisticated with what they are able to do and how we can best connect with the right audience at the right time and deliver true results.

Supercharging their already strong database by bringing in Stan subscribers feels like the move the industry has been waiting on and this should pay off, taking them to a 20 million logged-in data set and allowing for better targeting capabilities.

Rebooting their digital product with greater contextual and relevant targeting opportunities through new high impact, premium and interactive ad units will continue to set them apart and increase growth opportunities for them, and connection opportunities for advertisers.

There is enormous benefit also for small and medium-sized business that are looking to enter TV. They have removed one of the biggest barriers with creative and production charges along with cost of TV, to postcode targeting and AI powered creative production. The quality of this will be another thing, but they are on the right track with simplifying and making TV more accessible to local business. It’s a potential play for Facebook and YouTube dollars, so I’m keen to watch how this plays out.

The e-commerce platform is promising; it’s a tried and tested platform, with Nine’s scale of audience underpinning it and driving product sales in credible safe environments.

Nine Upfront 2024 E-commerce Media Solutions

MW: Was there anything that stood out to you that might move the needle on the amount advertisers spend with Nine?

LW: I think the Olympics will be their largest revenue driver. They have created immense opportunities for advertisers, through the depth and breadth of their ecosystem. I think the small business platform and retail launch (although light on detail) will also drive additional revenue streams.

Nine is making a concerted effort to bring more youth audiences to their platform to slow down audience fragmentation and their audience profile from ageing via Pedestrian TV and also bringing some of their Stan programming into linear TV. If the cross promotion of Stan content across mainstream Nine goes according to plan, this provides greater advertising and subscriber revenue opportunities.

James Lucas – Head of Investment, OMD Brisbane

Nine Upfront 2024 - James Lucas

Nine’s slick-as-always Upfront presentation for 2024 was focused on cementing a narrative not just for the year ahead but rather the next decade, as the company firmly sets sights on 2032 and the Brisbane Olympics.

In continuing to position itself as Australia’s Media Company, Nine reinforces its suite of marketing solutions that extend beyond linear television. Some of the most exciting updates of the night were focused on the rollout of new technology and data products. However, these are very much underpinned and reliant upon the success of Nine’s content strategy.

The Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics will make up the backbone of Nine’s content slate not just in the weeks the Games are on but in the months leading up to it. From January 2024, Nine has identified and mapped out content solutions across the wider Nine ecosystem, including Total TV, Total Audio and Total Publishing.

In rolling this out, the network and advertising partners will better align with what will likely be the most significant cultural event of the year. Advertisers and viewers will no doubt be comforted to see the return of Nine’s key Entertainment tentpoles, Sporting properties and loved talent – some with a bit of an Olympics-themed twist in there.

In unifying the Olympics and Paralympics, Nine is making a statement, and it’s an exciting step forward when it comes to inclusivity and accessibility in Sport. Importantly, seeing more diversity across Australian mass media will be great.
Nine’s 2024 Upfronts left me wanting to see more of this from the company, with this diversity hopefully a continued focus for the network as we steam ahead to Brisbane 2032.

Mollie Cross, trading manager at The Media Store

Nine Upfront 2024 - Mollie Cross

MW: What were the biggest selling points of the presentation?

MC: The unavoidable, and frequently referenced, ‘elephant in the room’ was Nine securing the Olympic and Paralympic Games spanning from Paris 2024 until their return to Australia in 2032. It’s not that they have the games, but how dedicated Nine are to tell the human stories of athletes, share the behind-the-scenes action and make every event, medal, and interview unmissable.

Alongside this, Nine’s commitment to consumer access via two 24-hour channels, 40 Live channels hosted on 9Now, and the extensive unified reporting and commentary via radio, podcasting and publishing are unparalleled.

MW: What are your thoughts on Nine’s investment in primetime content versus Olympic content?

MC: With a calling-card like the Olympic and Paralympic Games, alongside Nine’s ongoing commitments to sport and news pillars, it’s unsurprising that returning tentpoles make up most of the primetime programming throughout the rest of the calendar. Where new content is slated, Nine does seem to be diversifying their content mix beyond their tried and tested formats, albeit with relatively safe bets.

The airing of Stan Originals content on Nine is smart, and opens up premium programming to a new audience – a great hook to build subscriber pools. Outside of primetime, the introduction of Tipping Point Australia into the coveted pre-news spot is strong, but not testing new waters.

2024 Nine Upfront

MW: How do you feel about the incorporation of new technology and innovation into this year’s offering, and does it make Nine an attractive investment?

MC: I feel Nine’s commitment to technology and innovation is clear, with a particular focus on enhancing their product and ecosystem.

Between the VOZ Streaming announcement, cleverly launched by Nine as the first with an upfront, the Paris 2024 AI-enabled studio, improved UX and Nine Ad Manager in particular, Nine as a brand is now best positioned to deliver positive experiences for consumers, agencies, and advertisers of all sizes into 2024 and beyond.

While not directly impacting investment skew in the short-term, the ease at which agencies and advertisers can work with Nine is likely to improve, increasing value (and revenue) by removing barriers to entry.

See also: Nine Upfront 2024: Nine to launch self-serve AI tech platform for SMBs

MW: Was there anything that stood out to you that might move the needle on the amount advertisers spend with Nine?

MC: Nine have positioned themselves as a one-stop-shop for many advertisers and agencies with their aim to be “#1 where is truly matters”. This, partnered with their commitment to delivering addressable media at-scale, makes their inclusion on schedules an easier sell.

All that said, they’ve held this position for many years – only now, they’ve chosen to sell the dream of ease, simplicity and actively push for 100% Share of Spend.

Tom Kirkham – Head of Transformation, OMD Sydney

Nine Upfront 2024 - Tom Kirkkam

Everything Nine has announced in the data and technology space is about reducing the barrier to entry. Firstly, they are making it as easy as possible to connect data from brands to audiences; bringing on the likes of Tealium and Snowflake will be seen as a shrewd move, given their ever-increasing adoption in Australia.

Nine now arguably has the most comprehensive data connectivity suite in market, closing its gap with Meta and Google. They have given more reasons for brands to choose Nine when looking to unlock the power of their first-party data, creating a digital offering that rivals Meta and Google.

Secondly, Nine’s adoption of Generative AI into Nine Ads Manager is a clever mechanism to encourage SMEs to advertise even without a video asset. While the ad quality may be in question, it unlocks more avenues for SMEs to reach audiences, which can only positively impact Nine’s SME revenue.

Nine Upfront 2024 RTLX

It raises questions regarding content moderation, suitability and safety. Subsequently, this is something that will need to be addressed, and it remains to be seen whether this first iteration can really steal revenue share from social media companies.

Finally, the next big topic after AI in 2023 was’ Retail Media’. Nine announced their new offering RTLX; however there wasn’t enough detail provided to understand how this would enhance the sector.

If Nine’s claim of bringing content, data and tech together under a new commercial model process is valid, then this could prove to be lucrative.

Victoria Budge, managing partner, Claxon

Victoria Budge

The standout moments at Nine’s 2024 Upfronts were undoubtedly the introduction of an innovative self-serve platform targeting SMEs and, in case you had your earbuds in, Nine’s exclusive coverage of the upcoming 2024 Olympics.

From a content perspective, Nine has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2024–2032 Olympic Games. Advertisers exploring sponsorship opportunities will be investing up to $12.5 million but will gain access to Nine’s ecosystem across TV, radio, print, and digital platforms, ensuring maximum exposure and engagement with diverse audiences. However, given the substantial financial commitment required, this level of sponsorship opportunity will only be accessible to advertisers with the resources to make this kind of investment.

On the flip side, Nine’s investment in generative AI now offers a solution for smaller advertisers within the SMB space who previously considered TV advertising inaccessible due to high creative costs and concerns about budget inefficiency.

Nine Upfront 2024

The self-serve platform proudly introduces cutting-edge technology capable of generating TV ads within seconds, starting at an affordable price point of just $500. Additionally, the new platform promises enhanced targeting capabilities, empowering SMEs to minimise wastage while effectively reaching their desired customer segments.

While conversations are still being had, it seems there are also plans to enter the retail media space, enabling the network to provide a more measurable and acquisition-focused capability, currently associated with alternative digital channels.

As with any emerging technology, we’d expect some advertiser hesitancy until the platform gains wider adoption. However, it represents a significant opportunity for Nine to compete for video led investments that were previously directed towards Meta and Google.

Both advertisers and agencies will be particularly interested in the quality of ads generated once the platform is live, the effectiveness of ad placement capabilities, and whether smaller advertisers, who often prioritise acquisition channels over brand awareness, can achieve a strong ROI from these campaigns.

That being said, it’s exciting to see a media giant such as Nine adopting an AI tech platform, and it will be interesting to see how others may follow suit. 

See also: Nine Upfront 2024: Every announcement

Top image, left to right: Lucy Formosa Morgan, Chris Solomon, Laura Dodds, Lorraine Woods, James Lucas, Mollie Cross, Tom Kirkham, and Victoria Budge

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