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Michael Boggs on NZME's bounce back, the New Zealand radio industry and growing digital revenue

NZME celebrated a strong survey result, with all its stations growing listener numbers. We chat to the media company's chief executive about the latest round of results and the health of the industry in general.

By StopPress Team | May 16, 2017 | Sponsored content

What were some of the standout performances of the most recent radio survey?

As an industry we are so pleased that overall radio listening is up again, by 130,400 to 3,302,500. For NZME Radio we had an 8.4 percent increase of 151,800, resulting in 1.95 million Kiwis listening to our stations. An exceptional result for us with all NZME stations growing their number of listeners and an increase of 1.9 percentage points in market share. That doesn’t even include our digital powerhouse, iHeartRadio, with 603,605 registered users and over 2 million listening hours each month.#

Other key wins for us were that Newstalk ZB is again the most listened to radio station* in New Zealand, with Mike Hosking’s Breakfast leading the way as the most listened to breakfast**. Another stellar performance for Newstalk ZB was Rachel Smalley’s Early Edition. Rachel has more than double the share and almost double the number of listeners than any other show in that 5-6am weekday time slot.

Coast gained the most new listeners of any station, an awesome result with 47,500 new listeners and ZM in second place increasing by 41,000. ZM’s Fletch, Vaughan and Megan also achieved number one status with 18- to 34-year-old listeners across the country in the key breakfast slot, 6-10am.* Add to this a great start from Sarah Gandy, Sam Wallace and Toni Street on The Hits with growth in Auckland and we definitely feel some momentum building.¤

Radio remains really popular across demographics. Why do you think it's managed to remain strong, despite digital disruption impacting all the other traditional channels so hard? 

Radio continues to be such a relevant medium. It’s free, mobile and engages with listeners on a one-to-one basis. Radio can make people laugh out loud, cry, belt out a ballad or argue with the host, often in the comfort and privacy of their own car. The breakfast and drive dayparts are key, particularly in metro centres with people in transit to and from work. Listeners feel personally connected to our show hosts, something that doesn’t exist with music streaming platforms.  

Instead of fearing the disruption digital has brought, radio has embraced it, choosing to enhance its content offering through websites and social channels, particularly utilising video. The brands enhancing listeners’ experiences through digital are not just the ones targeting younger audiences such as Flava, ZM and Radio Hauraki. Mike’s Minute on Newstalk ZB occurs daily discussing current issues and reaches a whole new online audience. We have definitely seen our advertisers responding to this, aligning themselves alongside our brands with that extended digital reach.  

The team at ZM enjoyed some really good growth. What do you attribute this to? 

ZM has been growing steadily now for over a year, a result of implementing a specific strategy developed a few years ago. The team work hard to create awesome content every day, across all of their channels as they are much more than a radio station. Working across all major digital and social platforms, their ability to create content their listeners crave is fantastic. 

We believe the current ZM talent line-up to be the best we have had. They’re fresh, funny and engaging. We are thrilled with Fletch, Vaughan and Megan’s result. To be the number one breakfast show for all people 18-34 weekdays 6-10am is amazing.* A huge breakthrough for them and definitely a tipping point resulting from the team’s hard work and refining their show over the last few years. Drive’s Jase and PJ are continuing their success, growing listeners again to now be the second highest show weekdays 3-7pm.  

Add Bel Crawford on days and Cam Mansel topping the day off with Snapchart, and you have an amazing line-up. All shows performed well in this recent survey with growth in both listeners and market share.^

Dean Buchanan has spoken about the importance of the long-term success of radio brands. So how do you ensure this? How do you make sure that a radio brand remains strong, consistently? 

Dean always tells me it is a simple formula – employ exceptional talent, add an awesome team, and top it off by producing excellent and engaging content. We are also fortunate to have access to NZME’s wider stable of brands, allowing us to employ an integrated approach to our stations’ content creation and amplification. Similar to the approach we have for our advertisers, we tell our stations’ stories across the channels our audience engage with.

Whether they are listening, reading, attending an event or watching NZME brands, we have an audience of over 3.2 million∞ Kiwis engaging with us. Serving them with the right content at the right time is integral to promoting our own brands, alongside our advertisers’ brands. You can read a weekly article from Matt Heath from Radio Hauraki’s breakfast team in the New Zealand Herald in print or online, or check out hilarious videos from Fletch, Vaughan and Megan such as Tinder Nightmares or The Intern on www.watchme.co.nz, our free video-on-demand website.

The ASA ad spend figures showed that there's still need for growth in digital revenue. How can the radio industry improve the monetisation of its digital properties?

Our radio brands work hard every day across platforms to reach their audiences. We then include digital radio assets in all of our integrated campaigns to complement and extend both reach and engagement. This enables our clients to access their customers at every stage of their purchase journey.

What are some of the best examples of integrated campaigns developed by the NZME radio team over the past year? 

Mammoth again teamed up with the Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC) for the Summer 16/17 Cricket series on iHeartRadio. The series was promoted across radio, digital and social, along with having activations and experiential elements in BP outlets. Mammoth reported record sales, a great outcome for the client. Listening statistics also experienced fantastic growth year on year, with both the number of active users and the number of streams, up 18 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Another example was the GEM launch of the ‘Personal Loans’ brand into the New Zealand market. The aim was to inspire audiences to plan and visualise the possibilities a GEM Personal Loan would create. Utilising the power of the NZME platforms, “Got a Plan” was integrated into content across radio, publishing, social, digital and video platforms, delivering a huge share of voice and robust brand endorsement. Using a competition format, NZME called for New Zealanders to submit a plan for a chance to win the funds to turn it into reality. “Sticky note” reminders on NZ Heralds pushed readers to the online competition, tying into GEM’s above the line campaign.

The competition was led with established media personalities on radio brands The Hits and ZM, with wide-reaching drivers directing to the competition form on NZ Herald online. Six people won the funds to make their plan reality, with two winners’ journeys turned into beautifully emotive videos shared across social and digital platforms. Two others provided the inspiration for NZ Herald Branded Content articles. Audiences embraced the campaign, and the results exceeded expectations, a fantastic outcome for the client.

How do these campaigns usually come to fruition? Are the ideas developed by the radio teams themselves or by NZME's content team?   

Our radio teams are made up of hugely talented people bringing together a wide range of skills including content, production, brand engagement, experiential, video, social, events, marketing, technology, commercial and finance to name just a few. Great ideas can come from any one of these areas depending on the objective we are trying to achieve and the format through which we want to deliver it. We actively encourage the sharing of awesome ideas across NZME, leading with the idea and then deciding on the channels we use to promote and amplify based on where each audience interacts with that brand.

This approach is similar to what we use for our advertising partners who can come to us with a fully formed idea for us to amplify to their chosen audience, or we can assist them in developing these ideas. For big campaigns we have Create Me, our dedicated team creating integrated, multi-channel campaigns for clients every day.

The key is our audience-led approach and diligently finding these audiences across our channels and brands. Whether a business is looking for five new customers or five hundred thousand, we tailor our solutions to suit.

Any other thoughts on radio in 2017?

Our results confirm the strength of radio within our NZME arsenal of brands and channels. The content we create for our stations is powered by the full range of NZME’s capabilities whether coming from the NZME newsroom, our Vision video production unit, our Events team, or our digital specialists targeting content to our audiences. Everyone plays a part in building these brands.

Couple this with the enthusiasm and strong performance of our NZME Radio team, implementing individual brand strategies and creating awesome content for listeners and advertisers, we are convinced of the future success of radio.

Sources:

GfK Radio Ratings Survey, Commercial Radio Total NZ S1 2017, Mon-Sun 12mn-12mncume(000’s), NZME stations (inc. Humm FM, Chinese Radio AM936 and FM 99.4 Chinese Voice) compared to Commercial Radio Total NZ S2 2016 (unless otherwise stated).

^Total New Zealand S1 2017, All 10+, Mon-Sun 12m-12mn, Cumulative Audience and Commercial Market Share, 6-9am9-12pm12-4pm4-7pm, 7pm-12mn.
*Total New Zealand 1/2017, All 10+, Mon-Sun 12mn-12mn, Commercial Share, unless otherwise stated.
**Total New Zealand 1/2017, All 10+, Mon-Fri 6am-8.30am, Commercial Share and Cumulative Audience.
¤Auckland 1/2017, All 10+, Mon-Fri 6am-9am, Commercial Share. Compare to Auckland, Survey 3 2016.
#iHeartMedia, 3 May 2017. Stream Guys and Akamai, Monthly average based on 2016 calendar year
∞Nielsen CMI, fused database: February 2017 (based on population 10 years +). Based on unduplicated weekly reach of NZME newspapers, radio stations, and monthly domestic unique audience of NZME’s digital channels.

This story is part of content partnership between StopPress and NZME.

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