Read part one here.
Creating a safe environment
Trustworthy, safe, credible platforms are crucial to a media company and its advertisers and readers.
Talking with Boucher, she says it’s essential for the media to provide a safe environment for its advertisers and one where “they know the content they are advertising amongst. is credible, accurate and true and has been created due to solid ethical principles”.
And looking at the other side – the reader side – she says the fourth estate is an essential pillar of democracy.
“There is plenty of evidence coming out of the United States and Europe about what happens when local newspapers have closed – very clear spikes in corruption, nepotism, drop in public engagement and local affairs – nothing good happens when news media goes because the news media’s job is to hold those in power to account of the decisions they make on behalf of everyone.”
Elaborating further, Boucher explains that, of course, news media needs to be funded.
“For every company that decides to spend its money with any one of the big media companies here they are actively funding that contribution to a good society for everybody,” she says.
“You definitely can’t say that when you are funding Facebook. You are actually funding the direct opposite, funding the undermining of truthful discourse and democracy.”
For Maher, TVNZ’s absolute first from a commercial perspective set of decisions sits around what’s best for the advertiser.
“One of the benefits of being a local publisher dealing with local advertisers is we have the ability to pick up the phone and talk to people if necessary and we’re very quick to make a call if we think an advertisers’ brand is in anyway at risk.
“The important thing is that we’re a digital business ourselves but we are very careful to curate content. We do it from a viewer and an advertiser perspective in a way that is the best experience for a consumer and the best experience and value for an advertiser.”
The growing concerns about the reliability of ‘information’ shared via social media means trust is more important than ever, NZME’s Headland says.
“What we do can empower, enrich and enliven our audiences and connect them to the people, events and decisions that matter— what we do can also keep people safe—and even keep them alive. The only way media organisations can deliver on that responsibility effectively is if our audiences know they can trust the information we are sharing with them.”
Kyne says as a New Zealand media company, MediaWorks simply asks that [Facebook and Google, etc] are obligated by the same set of standards, rules and regulations as every other company.
“This is clearly an area of conversation for the government but the divide between these global players and ourselves is significant, and there is a very significant difference in the level of care shown by local media companies towards their audiences and advertisers.
“As a local company, we also invest heavily in our local community and have trading relationships with over 3,000 New Zealand businesses up and down the length of the country. We spend well over $100 million each year on external suppliers and of this, over 85 percent is spent with New Zealand-based businesses and over two-thirds of these are small businesses in provincial centres. We are an important part of the economy and culture in New Zealand.”
Similarly, as a company providing advertising around content on the big screen, Val Morgan also knows the importance of providing a safe environment for brands.
“Val Morgan operates flexible options for clients with a sophisticated scheduling process and checks, to ensure cinema delivers a 100 percent brand safe environment for advertisers,” says New Zealand sales director Matt Tremain.
“In addition to these safeguards we also know consumers have a deep emotional connection to cinema that brands can leverage.”
He says for people, going to the cinema is a formative experience and it’s an environment that provides a level of reliability.
“We know the cinema has always been there to inform and entertain us, a part of the community and an experience we trust.
“For brands it provides an environment for both local and large businesses to advertise on the same platform, creating a mutually beneficial ‘circle of virtue’.”
On top of this, Tremain says you only need to look at the number of movie releases from some of “the most valued and safe brands in the world” including Disney, Marvel, Lego, Star Wars; to witness the halo effect and opportunity for cinema advertisers to be seen in a trusted, safe environment next to these “brand powerhouses”.
While there are issues with social media and its companies, we live in a world with many screens and ways to gather information. Traditional media organisations are constantly adapting, creating and innovating in order to keep up with the pace of changing technology and the need to create new revenue streams.
At a broader level, TVNZ moved two or three years ago to more aggressively follow where consumers were choosing to consume content, Maher says.
“What that means is becoming much more neutral around how we make content available to consumers and a large part of that is our development of our OnDemand platform – which has one of the lowest ad loads of any on demand platform – and development of Re: as a social media platform and now web-based product as well.”
According to Maher, TVNZ’s innovations like ad-on-pause (which allows the consumer to be exposed to a message when they pause a live viewing experience) create a huge amount of opportunity to innovate that’s good for the viewer and creates an opportunity for the advertiser.
“A big part of where our future lies is content that’s available anywhere, anytime and at a commercial level, respectful advertising solutions that are good for brands.”
Over at MediaWorks, there is excitement around its intent to merge with QMS NZ.
“The merger will be the first in this market to realise the combined power of out-of-home, radio, TV and digital as an unrivalled destination for advertisers to build brands and maximise audience reach,” Kyne says.
MediaWorks is also rolling out an updated version of its audio app Rova that incorporates all its radio brands, live and on demand, as well as unique content and podcasts exclusive to the app. Investment in these digital platforms is set to continue.
“Our goal is to create great content while reaching as many people as we can with that content so it’s important to diversify our platforms and make it easy for audiences to find,” Kyne says.
For Stuff, Boucher mentions its social network Neighbourly, Stuff Fibre and energy retailer Energyclubnz as ways its horizons are broadening.
“We built Neighbourly off the power of Stuff and now we’re trying to build these other businesses – they are going to be a part of our overall ability to fund journalism.”
Boucher says because of the scale of the organisation it sees Stuff as a platform, not a news site.
“We have opened it up to other publishers – Bauer Media, Newsroom, SkyKiwi, Maori Television – who all use Stuff as a platform to reach a mass audience because if we’ve got that scale, reach and trust we can be a Kiwi alternative platform to Facebook.
“You have to be totally rationale about the fact to succeed at that you have to deliver the results. It’s not about the rise and fall of individual companies it’s about alarming position that news media globally finds itself in.”
While it had been discussed for a long time, 2019 was the year NZME took the bold plunge and put up a paywall, New Zealand Herald Premium.
Headland says it is also investing plenty of leadership hours into developing its digital product portfolio including OneRoof and iHeartRadio.
“The media as we know it today only has one certainty, and that is change. At NZME we are being brave, and future focussed with technology while keeping in touch with our audiences’ and advertisers’ needs.
“With the introduction of smart speakers, open-source driverless cars being tested and more on the horizon, we are a media business firmly focused on being proactive to provide Kiwis solutions that resonate.”
With an event such as the Christchurch terror attack showing how easily harmful content can spread via Facebook and other social media channels, brand safety is as important as ever for Kiwi advertisers and local media companies. Those talked to were committed to providing what’s best for both advertisers and viewers.
And as New Zealand media embrace bold new changes and innovations, fresh challenges and opportunities lie ahead with change, as always, the only constant.