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Traditional media’s best weapon against big tech and the machines

By - Media i

18 November 2019 4min read

By - Media i

18 November 2019 4min read

This year’s Media i Awards suggest that despite the march of big tech and the race toward a programmatic future, the platforms are lagging behind in perhaps the most fundamental aspects of media: People and relationships.

No tricks, just cold, hard data

Media i Awards winners are determined on merit alone. The awards are not based on submissions. There is no room for gaming, tricks, or sleight of hand. The winners are ranked by a comprehensive survey of more than 2,100 sales facing media agency staff – more than 80 per cent of the Australian market.

Those that won did it all off their own bat: the awards are based solely on performance across key metrics over the last 12 months.

So what did the awards, and the data used to determine the winners, tell us about the state of Australian media sales?

TV strikes back

Four out of six team awards were won by TV networks: Nine in Western Australia, Victoria and the national team award; Ten in Adelaide.

A year or two ago, the TV networks were probably not in a position where they could win. This year’s result demonstrates in concrete terms that the investments made by broadcasters are starting to bear fruit; that their product and capability has evolved. Their investment, however, is only part of the success: It requires teams – people – to communicate those capabilities, to execute beyond transactional aspects, and to drive the market toward new possibilities.

Against the march of big tech, the results of this year’s awards suggest that TV is developing an ability to adapt and evolve – a resilience out-of-home has exhibited in recent years. Whether that will be fully reflected in next year’s TV ad revenue remains to be seen. But the broadcasters, and their sales team, are certainly showing appetite for the fight.


People still beat machines

Google and Facebook may have something of a duopoly on digital ad market revenue. However, the media agency staff polled for Media i’s survey rank them middling at best when it comes to media sales representation.

The inference is that they are perhaps over reliant on tech and data to perform their heavy lifting. As digital growth slows, technology-led media platforms will no doubt continue to raise their game in terms of their investment in quality sales staff.

Yet regardless of ‘legacy’ versus platform constructs, the survey findings offer a positive message about the role of people in a digitally-led industry: Acknowledgement that even as we race toward a programmatic future, the role of people, product and category knowledge, relationships and strategic thinking, remain critically important.

For now, according to the survey findings, it is within these aspects that ‘legacy’ media still retains a significant advantage.


Key criteria for media sales reps as ranked by agencies. Source: Media i agency survey.

Marketers: reevaluate the role of media sales

Marketers face a constant battle to drive growth while maximising efficiency. While some have a direct relationship with media owners (Seven’s James Warburton is unapologetic about speaking directly with marketers), many are increasingly removed from the media process. That can obscure the strategic investments made by media owners and their sales teams.

The winners of this year’s Media i Awards will no doubt trumpet their achievements – as they should. But the marketers that read Mi3 could do worse than rethink the role of media sales in delivering stronger commercial outcomes.

According to media agencies entrusted with marketing budget investment, the winners of this year’s awards are the media sales teams that best know your channel and category - and how to leverage their audiences to ensure growth for your brands. Perhaps that should be better reflected in budget allocation?

Agencies: Thanks for making the awards happen

Media i directors Charles Parry-Okeden and Chris Winterburn said media agencies' support for the awards underlines their recognition of the role media sales people play in delivering better outcomes.

“Every year the agencies without hesitation sponsor the awards to show their appreciation of the job that media sales people do for them and their clients,” said Parry-Okeden.

“It takes hard work and resilience to consistently deliver to your client’s needs at the highest level while simultaneously navigating an ever-changing media landscape with all its continual disruption – and 2019 has been no different,” he added.

“But despite constant flux, I think the awards underline one thing that will never change across our industry: the need for human interaction. Meaningful relationships based on trust and mutual respect will always be highly valued in business.”


This year’s best media sales professionals

Nine was the most awarded media company on the night receiving seven awards, followed by ARN, JCDecaux and News Corp Australia with four awards apiece and Bauer, Southern Cross Austereo and Verizon Media with three awards. The full list of winners:


Sales Representative of the Year Magazines:

  • NSW: Olivia Simons Bauer
  • VIC: Demi Martello Bauer
  • QLD: Giulianna Stead – Bauer
  • SA:  Georgia Matthews – Russell Media (Pacific)
  • Martin Atanassov – Nine


Sales Representative of the Year Newspapers:

  • NSW: Alastair Forbes – News Corp Australia
  • VIC: Ben Walton – News Corp Australia
  • QLD: Tenielle Jordan – News Corp Australia
  • SA: Dipti Trivedi – News Corp Australia
  • WA: Kelly Trepkowski – West Australian Newspapers


Sales Representative of the Year Outdoor/Cinema:

  • NSW: Tom Bonnell QMS
  • VIC: Tom Zavecz – Shopper Media Group
  • QLD: Renee Jonsen JCDecaux
  • SA: Lucy Carey JCDecaux
  • WA: Damien Bodestyne – JCDecaux


Sales Representative of the Year Radio:

  • NSW: Sandy Rogers – Southern Cross Austereo
  • VIC: Denis Donati ARN
  • QLD: Lauren Everist ARN
  • SA: Jenna Hawkins – ARN
  • SA: Thea Petros – Southern Cross Austereo
  • WA: Aaron Bryant ARN


Sales Representative of the Year Digital:

  • NSW: Hayley Treasure Spotify
  • VIC: Luke Burr – Verizon Media
  • QLD: Alison Powell – Verizon Media
  • SA: Imran Khalil Nine
  • WA: Tom Bajrovic – Nine


Sales Representative of the Year Television:

  • NSW: Luke Duignan Seven
  • VIC: Georgia Ratcliffe – Network Ten
  • QLD: Dave Box – Southern Cross Austereo
  • SA: Adele Gibb – Network Ten
  • WA: Natasha Twentyman – Nine


2019 Teams Winners List:

  • NSW: ARN
  • VIC: Nine
  • QLD: Verizon Media
  • SA: Network Ten
  • WA: Nine


2019 National Sales Team of the Year: 

  • Nine


2019 Agency Sponsors:

  • MFA (principal sponsor)
  • Carat
  • IPG Mediabrands
  • Kaimera
  • OMD
  • PHD
  • Posterscope
  • Starcom
  • The Media Store
  • UM
  • Vizeum
  • Wavemaker
  • Zenith
Let’s go. What do you think?

By - Media i

18 November 2019 4min read