A media agency take on the media

Media is a tough business to be in anywhere in the world. The dominance of global players has shifted the sands for media organisations the world over but here in New Zealand, local players are fortifying the local media economy through innovation, partnerships and investing in local content, says GroupM New Zealand chief executive Chris Riley. And it’s win-win-win for consumers, clients and agencies.

The New Zealand media environment has seen more change and attempted partnerships in the last 24 months then we’ve experienced in the last decade. Joint ventures, M&A and working agreements that would have been unheard of a few years ago are now becoming commonplace. All with a view to create long term sustainable revenue growth for their respective media brands.

Examples like Spark partnering with TVNZ to deliver the Rugby World Cup across their subscriber, on-demand and free-to-air assets demonstrates real collaborative thinking.

It mitigates a lot of risk and allows two compelling media and platform companies to deliver a customer experience that will be the litmus test for how we will subscribe, pay for, and consume live sport in the future. TVNZ and Spark don’t have a long history of working together and critically it’s a statement to the media industry, investors and the New Zealand people that this way of working will be the future for long-term sustainable success.

Similarly, the recent acquisition of QMS in New Zealand by MediaWorks brings together a significantly large format outdoor network with an FTA broadcaster, further bolstering the already huge cumulative reach across its network of television, digital and radio assets. This strategy to further enhance and diversify their network portfolio, will allow MediaWorks to have different conversations with agencies and clients around the kind of integrated advertising and engaging content they can distribute across channels, moving the conversation into value rather than price.

You can see the Kiwi spirit of innovation and desire for new, more effective ways of working that benefit the end consumer, even when ventures haven’t succeeded. In Fairfax and NZME’s attempt to combine the force of their local print assets, and in the failed Sky and Vodafone merger, the intent from our local media economy is to create a differentiated position in the marketplace to stave off the threats from international dominance.

It’s happening all over the world, and we love to also see it here because it demonstrates that the New Zealand media market is confident about the future and is trying to implement longer-term growth strategies, critical in a marketplace where big business has a very short-term outlook, drip-feeding communications investment to influence very short-term objectives.

In a different way, the recent launch of the NZ Herald’s paywall is a fantastic move and one that should have happened many years ago. This too sends a signal to the market that quality media content is worth paying for, which will in time translate into a stronger, more valuable platform for their advertisers.

A risky strategy, yes; however, the risks of not charging for their content are greater, and would have seen them accept the fate of so many newspaper mastheads around the world. Importantly, however, this decision to charge for their content sends a very significant message internally to their journalists. The work they do each day is valued. There is something that we can thank Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Apple for. They have legitimised the argument that consumers are willing to pay for premium content they can access in a way that is convenient for them.

As our media partners are looking for new ways of working, we are actively working together with them to support the local media economy and drive these partnership benefits into value for our clients. A healthy local media economy is critical. If the role of journalism and content creation falls solely to international partners, we all lose.

We don’t want to be in a place where news and content is restricted to what’s shared on global platforms, which are vehicles of curation – not creation. We want premium quality content created in New Zealand, for New Zealanders.

While global media platforms are an important part of the landscape, a strong local media market is vital for the ongoing success of clients and the health of the New Zealand economy.

  • Chris Riley is the chief executive of GroupM New Zealand.

This article was originally published in the June/July issue of NZ Marketing.

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