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News Analysis 17 Jun 2020 - 3 min read

Nine shakes up radio beyond Howcroft, Fordham; cuts syndication, overhauls sales structure, adds 9Galaxy self-service platform

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

On the heels of a new line-up of radio hosts from Ben Fordham to PwC's Russel Howcroft, Nine Radio has overhauled its sales structure, is tapping datasets from 11 million group-wide registered users and cutting ties with syndicated content providers Australian Traffic Network (ATN) and CrocMedia. Richard Hunwick explains why.

What you need to know:
  • Nine has now streamlined its sales division, eliminating "internal competition"
  • Richard Hunwick, Nine's new TV and radio sales boss, says the key is business directors who will have a direct link with a specific holding group
  • Nine has continued consolidation of its radio offering, ending ties with the Australian Traffic Network (ATN), with the intention of monetising its own assets around news, weather and traffic.
  • This becomes the second syndication deal to be severed by Nine, with the network using the Wide World of Sports division to supplement sports radio business Croc Media's deal across its major stations.
  • Hunwick told Mi3 the business will also be integrating radio sales into Nine's automated self buying platform 9Galaxy, however was unable to confirm an exact date
  • He says the radio business will use datasets from Nine's 11 million-plus registered users across its TV, video and newsmedia assets to complement the existing radio survey ratings system from GFK
  • Nine Radio has also made several new additions to its core line-up, with Ben Fordham and Russel Howcroft replacing top talent such as Allan Jones and John Burns.


Radio renovation

From agency-led Group Business Directors to the eventual introduction of 9Galaxy to allow the automated buying of radio assets, Nine is rounding out the consolidation of its recently acquired Macquire Media assets.

Now rebranded as Nine Radio, the business has also appointed TV sales boss Richard Hunwick to take up the responsibility of integrating and rejuvenating radio sales for the business.

Hunwick says the strategy took over 18-months to execute and had been part of the planning during the Fairfax/Nine merger over 18-months ago, with the intention of developing a new, cross-platform sales team.

Under the new structure, Nine’s Group Business Directors (GBDs), who have a range of diverse skills and experience across the marketing and media, will be a single point of contact for all of Nine’s advertising partners.

Each GBD will have complete responsibility for a media agency buying group or independent agencies, and lead. The GBD will have responsibility for a television, digital, publishing and a radio sales team who are experts and specialists in their channel.

"We have created a set of teams that previously operated based on their respective verticals – TV, radio, publishing and digital – that now form a structure which functions based on geography, revenue stream and agency group," Hunwick says.

"It now starts to work together on every single level because the GBDs have amplified their roles and when they see an opportunity, they can look at how they can extend out or across other assets without a focus on one particular vertical."

Hunwick says the move has also eliminated any internal competition between sales teams by keeping agencies and consumers at the focus and having access to selling the entire portfolio of Nine's assets

"The idea of putting the agency and the customer at the centre of our sales strategy ensures that we are building a representation for them and that we're not cluttering up the internal conversation between ourselves," he says.

"We tried to do something similar to this five years ago with TV and digital and I don't think the market was ready for it, however now with Nick Young and myself split across a much large set of channels and dealing with select holding groups directly, it feels like the right way to best represent brands."

However, Hunwick says at the bottom end of the agency group sales structure, specialism will still be dictated by stream.

Group Business Managers will still run a specific vertical for each of Nine's assets at a more transactional and bespoke level, while Directors will handle the larger, cross-platform strategies.


Content consolidation

New radio hosts such as Ben Fordham and Russell Howcroft aren't the only new changes made to the programming and content slate on Nine Radio.

Nine is launching a new commercial offering for its news, sport, weather and traffic coverage, with exclusive sponsorship available for advertisers across all bulletins throughout the day and around the network.

As part of the move, Nine will end it the 25-year long relationship with Australian Traffic Network (ATN), which has been responsible for the syndicated content.

Hunwick says the opportunity for marketers was a powerful premium product for both brands on a national stage and within individual local markets.

"We think that's a premium environment with real appeal to advertisers, which also allows us to standardise everything across our radio network and becomes far more tailored for a national advertiser to buy something right around the country," Hunwick says.

"From July we will put in place a premium sponsorship block at the top of the hour with news, sport, weather and traffic."

This is the second major syndication deal to be severed by Nine Radio in recent months. Earlier this year Croc Media, the sports radio content provider for 2GB, 3AW and 4BC.

Hunwick says the decision will further consolidate the overall advertising offering for the business, but also give Nine's existing content platforms, such as the Wide World of Sports, the ability to feature across more than one channel.

The moves by Nine will ultimately lead to a shift in how radio inventory is traded as well, with Hunwick confirming plans for its assets to be available through the businesses automated buying platform 9Galaxy.

While unable to confirm an exact data, Hunwick says the overlay of existing data sets from other Nine platforms, alongside the existing GFK survey measurements, will provide clients with a unique radio proposition with deeper behavioural and consumer insights.

"We're not going to ignore survey results but it is also what will allow us to do is enrich the understanding of the listenership that we have and build out a stronger profile of who they are by tapping into those data sets that we have right across the business," he says. "Ultimately that is going to show us a behavioural, cross-platform pattern that will be far more valuable to agencies and marketers."

"The initial plan is building out the efficiency side of the system, which is happening in September. So building into a broader traffic system of TV and radio which would make that process for ourselves and agencies, far more efficient."


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Josh McDonnell

Senior Writer

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