Radio Week: Nova’s Paul Jackson on what happens during lockdown

• ‘smooth and Nova are rock solid, steady and on the right trajectory’

Nova Entertainment highlights from GfK Survey 2, 2020 included:
Nova Network #1 network with most listeners
Nova Network #1 drive with Kate, Tim and Marty
smoothfm 95.3 is #1 in Sydney share and cume audience
Nova Network #1 nights as Smallzy wins 53rd consecutive survey
Nova Network #1 25-54
Nova 100 Melbourne #1 in cume with record audience 1,102,800

Nova Entertainment’s chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson is more than satisfied with the performance of their on-air teams as radio goes into ratings lockdown until the end of September.

“We have great cumes all around the country,” he told Mediaweek. “Everything changed in the last few weeks of this survey period and that would have impacted a lot of radio stations trying to measure daytime time spent listening. People have been grappling with that and spending more time on news/talk stations.

“Because listening patterns did change, I am looking at this survey more at the cumes. Looking at smoothfm share in Sydney I am calling it a draw with WSFM (the latter leads by 0.1), but we are well ahead on cume.”

Jackson said the great news for the business in the Sydney market is that smoothfm and Nova 969 are the only stations in the market with a cume over 1m.

smoothfm’s Richard Wilkins, Mel Doyle, David Campbell & Cameron Daddo

“Nova 100 also posted its highest cume ever and is #1 in cume in Melbourne. We also lead in cume in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. When you come to share of audience we have wonderful stories – both under 40 and 25-39 we are very strong.”

Jackson is not expecting any major changes in terms of how radio is bought over the next few months. Highlighting how trends in radio will be used by advertisers, he said: “From survey 1 to survey 2 this year, some stations were slightly up or slightly down, but within the range of where they were. If you take an average of last year there was a lot of very strong listening going on. I don’t see any major change for any individual stations. We have a lot of good radio in Australia and they seem to be as strong as they ever were.

We will continue researching our audience to make sure our stations have the right sentiment and tone and we are giving the audience what they want. That can be moments of escapism and music that makes them feel good, or the news and information, we have to be judging the moment of time we are in and it is changing week to week. We have to be delivering the right messages at the right times.”

Jackson said that although there are no more surveys for some time, the mindsets for the on-air teams is that nothing has really changed. “No one is really conscious day-to-day that we are not in survey. However, we are not talking about things like the next big marketing campaign, and why would you at a time like this? As for the shows, it is natural for them, many of which have been going for many years and have a deep connection to the audience, to continue to try their absolute best. We will not be doing anything different that we would have done in a survey period, bar top-line marketing. We will want to make sure we remain in a strong place when we do start surveys again.

Regarding marketing spend, Jackson said smoothfm was fortunate it had done some marketing at the start of the year. “We also did some Nova marketing at the back end of 2019 and over summer. Given we have such strong cumes around the country it is now about what we do on air. Giving the audience the connection, relatability and connection they want. There is no marketing message from any of our stations that needs to go out urgently right now. Things will change over time, but who knows if that time will be this year or the following year.”

Jackson added that if a station wanted to experiment with something, out of survey might be the time to that. “But then if you are out of survey you don’t really know if it is working or not!

We don’t need to be experimenting – smooth is rock solid, steady and on the right trajectory. Very much the same for Nova. I would have to get very nit-picky to go through the Nova numbers to find stuff we could do better in.

“It is times like this where audiences are going to tend to stay with shows they now and love rather than sample something new or different.”

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