NZME’s CEO Michael Boggs on the radio results, brand collaborations and why he’s not concerned about Paul Henry

NZME chief executive Michael Boggs shares a few thoughts on how the publisher’s radio business is performing following this year’s radio survey and why he’s not concerned about Paul Henry’s growth. 

What, for you, were the highlights of the latest survey?

Getting back to being number one across news (Newstalk ZB), sport (Radio Sport) and entertainment (Coast) for New Zealand was a key highlight for me.

Winning Auckland was another one. As the biggest market, getting the numbers here definitely assists us to achieve our overall targets as an organisation. The team have done well.

Obviously the increase (240,000) in people listening to commercial radio was also hugely pleasing, that’s great for the industry and for advertising and marketing professionals to know.

How is the digital side of the radio business going?

In radio we made the digital move early and it is paying off for us. On average each month we have around 56,000 more people visiting our station websites than MediaWorks, plus over 660,000 downloads of our iHeartRadio app. Digital is an essential part of our overall strategy and extends from owned to earned media channels. Our social audiences extend each brand’s digital footprint beyond our own websites. Our audiences love to engage with our brands on all levels, particularly brands like ZM and The Hits. Our teams work hard at producing content for digital, and love it when our audiences respond to the video content, whether it is crazy or touches hearts.

The car has always been a safe zone for radio. But with the rise in connected cars, consumers can listen to pretty much whatever they like. Are you concerned about this cutting into radio listenership?

This survey we saw an overall rise of listeners for the industry of around 11 percent. That is a fantastic result and demonstrates the relevance radio still holds for over 1.8 million people in New Zealand.

We recognised the need to look at the way we delivered radio early, and launched iHeartRadio. With now over 457,000 registered users we have a platform our digital die-hards can access daily, wherever and whenever they want. Users choose the way they want to listen, putting them in the driver’s seat.

This year at the Beacons, we saw publishers collaborating more in the campaign development process (an example would be Bauer, FCB and the Ministry of Social Development on the ‘it’s not OK’ campaign). Do you see more of this happening in the future?

Definitely. We launched CreateMe to harness this opportunity for increased content integration from brands. Our work with Skoda, Public Trust and ASB all delivered Beacon Awards so we know that we’re onto a winning strategy.

We collaborate strongly with other media owners, media agencies, The Radio Bureau and many creative agencies. We welcome the opportunity to work with other like-minded organisations to achieve stellar outcomes for clients.

What are some of your favourite campaigns that radio personalities have worked on? Does NZME usually pitch these ideas or is it the other way round?

A couple of my favourites are polar opposites. Firstly, the Alternative Commentary Collective (ACC) teamed up with Mammoth Supply Co. for the summer cricket season. Reuniting the team on Boxing Day launched the campaign, with other competitions and activations occurring across Radio Hauraki and Radio Sport. To win the ultimate prize listeners had to make their summer Mammoth (#makeitmammoth). From shaving with a hedge-trimmer to DIY swimming pool in truck beds, the entries were incredible. I can’t wait to see what the ACC have dreamed up for this year’s sporting moments.

The other is one that only played out over the weekend for Qantas and The Hits. We ran a competition through our on air talent and online asking for mums to tell us why we should fly their children home for Mother’s Day. We didn’t tell the mums they had won, instead contacting the children and arranging it all in secret. We captured the reunions on video, resulting in some very magical moments for all involved. Even the guys holding the cameras had to hold the tears back!

These kinds of projects all have different beginnings. Ideas can be born from the client, the media agency, a creative agency or from within NZME. Some ideas are often too good to not present proactively to a client. The most important thing is building on them and working hard to achieve the client’s objectives.

How does CreateMe fit into the picture when it comes to radio personalities?

Like the other areas of the business, CreateMe will recommend the use of radio personalities when they enhance the proposed solution to solve a client’s need. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a radio only campaign either, as NZME talent are utilised across all our platforms and channels.

Are you concerned about Paul Henry growing in the morning segment?

Competition is healthy, it makes everyone lift their game and I believe the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk is better than it has ever been. Yes, Paul Henry has seen growth but his overall growth in audience of 9.5 percent is less than the industry grew overall (around 11 percent). I am confident the Mike Hosking Breakfast Show will continue to hold its own. It is again the number one breakfast show in New Zealand, with over double the share and listeners as Radio Live.

Quite a few radio brands lost share with household shoppers with children. Is this something to worry about?

As with all surveys, certain demographics can fluctuate from one to the next. For example in the last survey we grew this group by 2.2 percent while others remained flat. I am happy to say our stations targeting main grocery shoppers with kids specifically, The Hits, Mix98.2 and Mix91.7, grew their share.

Now that the radio business has been integrated with digital channels, what is your principal objective for the radio brands over the next year?

Our main objective will be to consolidate growth from some of the changes we have been implementing over the past few years.

We need to continue to develop each brand in line with their target audience, making sure we do this on the platforms and devices they want to engage on. It’s not just about listening any more. It’s about viewing, sharing, involving and experiencing the brand in so many more ways. 

Thoughts on the future?

Transformation has enabled NZME to provide audiences with access to content in a whole new way, across multiple channels and platforms, including radio. Wrapped with innovative, targeted and integrated advertisers’ campaigns, you have a place where audiences return to and where advertisers need to be.

It’s a great time to be a part of an industry where change is happening so rapidly that we literally can’t afford to stand still. We have an entire team dedicated to looking to the future and the strategies we should implement to ensure we remain relevant in this ever-changing landscape. It will be a great ride. 

  • This interview was conducted as part of a content partnership with NZME. 

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