Matt Headland on NZME’s long-term strategy and radio’s contribution to ad spend

Matt Headland

The gap in overall audience between MediaWorks and NZME (and its partners) narrowed again in the latest survey. To what do you attribute this shift? 

We believe this is a trend, not a one-off shift, which comes down to a great content strategy and excellent people executing it across all our channels. 

NZME has made a string of major changes over the last few years, but they haven’t always delivered results immediately. How important is it to stick to a long-term strategy vs responding to short-term results?

Radio listener habits take time to evolve so sticking to the long-term strategy is critical to the success of the station. ZM has gone from strength to strength since the revamped lineup – particularly with Fletch, Vaughan and Megan in 2014. Now, the station is really taking hold of its core target market, 18-34.

The long term commercial benefits of this very much outweigh regular, short-term reactive changes. 

What have been the standout brands for NZME in the latest rundown? What separated these brands from the competition? 

All of our stations have delivered significant growth within their core demographics. This is a direct result of the changes that we have made to talent and brands over the past couple of years. For example, Fletch, Vaughan and Megan on ZM have retained their number one breakfast title for 18-34 year olds*, The Hits’ Sarah, Sam and Toni breakfast show continued its upward trend in Auckland for the second survey in a row^ and Newstalk ZB has grown its share nationally to 10.3 percent.

Our ability to integrate our radio brands with our wider audience across the likes of NZHerald.co.nz, Grabone, WatchMe and NZH Focus in a way our competitors can’t, allow us to not only engage with our audiences in a far deeper way but also provide our customers with a more innovative offering. 

The contribution of radio to overall ad spend is almost 11 percent in this market, whereas it’s much lower in other markets. Why are local advertisers so enamoured with radio in this market?

We have the most diverse and competitive radio market in the world, which has always provided Kiwis with a voice and an identity.

Radio Hauraki from its inception has set the benchmark for this. Along with Hauraki, other radio brands have helped continue to maintain this unique and rare connection with local communities.

Laura Maxwell spoke about the important role that the Secret Sound promotion played for ZM in the latest round of ratings. What is it that made this promotion such a standout event? It seemed to stretch well beyond ZM into various other channels. Are there any other promotions that have made a big difference?

The secret has been that all our radio brands have had solid promotional plans across the year – not just one-off spikes.

The Secret Sound worked particularly well because it was executed brilliantly by the ZM team. There was a great appeal for listeners who could play along by listening and sharing the conversation with their friends and family.

However, it’s only a part of the puzzle. Great shows, great music and great marketing all play a key role. 

It seems to be really difficult to make money on the digital side. What can the radio industry do to lift this?

This is somewhat of a misconception; we see a significant percentage of our daily listening audience engage with our sites and social channels every day. All our integrated campaigns extend across our digital radio channels and it is very much a key revenue channel for us. It is enabling us to drive traditional radio revenue as well as digital and audio revenue. 

What’s the next step in NZME’s radio strategy?

You’ll just have to listen, watch, engage and get amongst it. We have an exciting H2 ahead of us. 


GfK Radio Audience Measurement, Commercial Radio Stations, Total New Zealand Survey 2 2017, Commercial Share percentage, Mon-Sun 12mn-12mn, People 10-plus, unless otherwise stated.

*Commercial Share percentage, Mon-Fri 6-10am, People 18-34.

^Auckland, Commercial Share % and Cumulative Audience (‘000’s), Mon-Fri 6-9am, People 10-plus. 

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

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