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News Plus 6 Oct 2021 - 3 min read

Ex-Telstra, Commbank, Foxtel CMO Mark Buckman to become OzTam TV ratings chair; Seven boss James Warburton flags return in board shake-up

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor

Mark Buckman is set to muster TV broadcasters at ratings body OzTam.

Accenture Interactive Senior Advisor and Non-Executive Director Mark Buckman appears to have got the nod to become the new chair of the TV industry-owned ratings and measurement body OzTam, from a shortlist which included former media agency bosses Henry Tajer and Danny Bass. Seven CEO James Warburton told Mi3 he will also join OzTam’s board, flagging a reform agenda which is likely to see him continue his push to kill overnight ratings reporting.

What you need to know:

  • TV broadcaster-owned measurement body OzTam is headed for an overhaul, with the current board to be less focused on technical issues.

  • Mark Buckman to become chair, Seven boss James Warburton and Nine Chief Sales Officer Michael Stephenson to take more active roles in a new competitive tussle. Warburton says he's joining OzTam board "for the greater good of the entire industry".

  • James Warburton likely to push his agenda to bin overnight ratings reporting, saying they are “misleading”.

  • Industry bodies MFA and AANA, with observer status, are understood to back Buckman’s appointment.

I’m joining the board to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear. We need to move the industry forward.

James Warburton, CEO, Seven West Media

Buckle up

A shake-up is looming for the TV broadcaster-controlled ratings body OzTam with former blue chip CMO Mark Buckman in the final stages of being appointed to the chair’s role, replacing former APN Outdoor CEO Richard Herring. 

Seven West Media CEO James Warburton will also join the board while Nine’s Chief Sales Officer Michael Stephenson will return to more active board duties after taking a back seat role as an alternate director to Nine’s OzTam board representative, Sales Operations Manager Warwick Sharp. 

OzTam would not officially confirm Buckman’s appointment – due process is still being completed – but a number of industry executives confirmed it was all but done.

Buckman was one of four candidates in the final shortlist – the other three were former media agency group CEOs including one time IPG Mediabrands Australia and global boss Henry Tajer and former GroupM chief investment officer and IPG Mediabrands Australia chief, Danny Bass, before he took an executive role at Snapchat. Buckman is understood to have the support of advertiser and media agency bodies, the AANA and MFA, which have OzTam board observer status along with the ABC and SBS.

OzTam’s current board has been dominated by TV network technical and research executives, which some argue was necessary as it developed its all-screen, cross platform audience measurement service, VOZ. 

But Seven boss James Warburton told Mi3 a technical committee was now a better option to manage VOZ and that more progress on broader audience measurement development was needed, faster.  

“I want to have a technical advisory committee then get back into the strategic stuff where we are talking about future audience measurement,” he said. “I’m joining the board to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear. We need to move the industry forward. I’m pretty passionate about that for the greater good of the entire industry.”

Kill overnight ratings

That will certainly include his crusade to kill overnight ratings reports. In a recent opinion piece for the AFR, Warburton said: “Most of the journalists who write about TV are ignoring the total audience numbers and still focusing on overnights. Overnight audience numbers are misleading. In some cases they represent less than 70 per cent of a TV program’s true audience.”

Warburton’s rumblings are also a possible trigger for Nine’s Michael Stephenson’s return to active OzTam board duties – he is expected to join Warwick Sharp at board meetings. 

“I’ve been an OzTAM board member for a number of years and I can’t wait to be even more involved to help marketers understand the benefits of cross platform measurement and how it will help them deliver a better return on their advertising dollar,” Stephenson told Mi3.

OzTAM has done a great job launching the VOZ database. It’s a highly complex and technical piece of work and we are the first country globally to be able measure co-viewing on a connected TV and the incremental reach that BVOD adds to TV. It’s now important to focus on making VOZ the currency by which Total TV is traded.”

Mark Buckman is no stranger to the competitive wrestling he will likely face as OzTam chair. He’s a Senior Advisor at Accenture Interactive, now headed by The Monkey’s co-founder Mark Green, which Accenture acquired, and was Managing Director, Customer & Retail at Foxtel and CMO at both Telstra and Commonwealth Bank. He was also Chairman and CEO of the then McCann Worldgroup 20 years ago. 

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