Australian media outlets that have used north of $200m extracted from the platforms via the Federal Government's Media Bargaining Code to increase headcount and fund new products, are facing the prospect of it turning to dust just 18 months after Google and Facebook were forced to pay news publishers for their content, a world first. Facebook has made clear its disdain for the bargaining code, now a template for publishers and regulators internationally, by boycotting formal code review meetings last month with Federal Treasury and Australian publishers. It is pulling away from news and re-engineering its feed – publishers expect up to 40 per cent declines in Facebook referral traffic as a result. Many now believe it is highly unlikely Facebook will strike any more deals or renew any of those struck 18 months ago and that Google is now also starting to play hardball for the next round of funding.
It’s almost enough to entice a journalist to go agency-side. Australia's ad and media agencies are upping the ante, funding everything from fertility treatment, through gender affirmation leave, to $4000 referral bonuses even for staff who have left. Slumber days sit alongside free financial advice, home office funding and laundry services as agencies vie for talent in a labour market that has never been tighter. With salaries rising, the perks arms race is intensifying. Here's a sample of the spoils.
Leading media owners and agencies are in solidarity: The unprecedented and unsustainable growth surge in the $22 billion ad market over the past 12 months has peaked in the first half of this year and matching comparable reporting period increases is impossible. Linear TV, say new forecasts from Mediabrands’ investment arm Magna and GroupM, will hit real growth headwinds for 2023 but radio and Out of Home will join digital media as the next-wave growth darlings.
Yes, you've heard the abounding talent war stories. Salaries have surged 20 per cent across all job functions say agency bosses, brands and recruiters. Juniors are asking for $90,000; those with two years experience are shopping for $150,000 and content roles, particularly, are spiking. The biggest concern? Young talent is struggling with the increased responsibility and workloads that come with their bigger pay cheques. “Everyone is poaching everyone”, says one agency boss as immigration numbers show Australia is at less than a quarter of its pre-Covid peak – and more people are leaving Australia than arriving.
The world’s biggest ad holdcos – and Australia's top brands – are racing to build media carbon calculators and metrics to allocate spend based on publisher carbon footprints, but locally we're way off the pace. The UK TV industry is a decade ahead, using an industry standard calculator for production emissions. Australia could use the same tool, but seems to be ignoring it. "There's a framework to follow, literally. It's a gift," say ITV Studios' UK sustainable production chief Phil Holdgate and sustainability manager Jeremy Mathieu. As brands eye their advertising supply chain carbon footprints, ITV's green team are juggling virtual production, no fly zones, remote live hubs and recycled sets. Here, ITV produces The Voice, The Chase, Love Island and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell – with more shows to come, and greater investor pressure on networks, agencies and brands is incoming.
Regulators and lawmakers are working up rules that prevent tracking and data collection without explicit informed consent. But a vast trove of probabilistic data can be harnessed to build accurate alternatives. UM's global media chief Joshua Lowcock, Civic Data co-founder Chris Brinkworth and Havas data and adtech lead Kevin Fernandes think fingerprinting is alive and kicking for now – but may be next in the firing line. Publishers and adtech firms take note.
Complaints of terrible BVOD user experience from Uber’s top regional marketer have struck a chord and threaten to hobble TV's great white hope. TV execs and advertisers weigh in on frequency capping fails but some suggest Australia's big video publishers have a fundamental decision to make: short term ad dollars or viewer experience. Networks reject accusations they are putting commercial interest over UX and point to programmatic supply chain apathy, increasingly complex technical challenges and a supply-demand imbalance. But ultimately the experience buck stops with them.
In a change that would have profound implications for the $13 billion digital advertising industry, the Federal Government is looking to define what counts as “personal information” in its overhaul of the nation’s privacy laws. Experts say the proposal in its most recent Discussion Paper, however, would include any digital identifier that is assigned to a specific user – even if the user isn’t explicitly named. That could cover most post-cookie ID initiatives currently being developed and even Facebook and Google’s audience matching platforms. Salinger Privacy's Anna Johnston, Bird & Bird partner Sophie Dawson, ADMA's Sarla Fernando, Luxury Escapes' Willem Paling and Guardian Australia's Dan Stinton weigh in on what brands, agencies and media should know.
Qantas has quietly restructured its marketing team and appointed a new CMO to replace former chief Jo Boundy, now at Commbank. Petra Perry has been named CMO of both the airline and its loyalty program after almost two years leading the latter. Former CMO and current Qantas Chief Customer Officer Steph Tully told the ADMA Global Forum yesterday the airline pulled out all the stops to stay afloat during Covid with new - and used - products flying off the e-commerce shelves. The flightless airline shifted pyjamas, bar carts, sold out of round trips to nowhere and made $10 million ads on shoestring budgets. It kept its magazine going so its publishing partner, News Corp-owned Medium Rare, could do the same, selling ads and staying connected with frequent flyers. Tully says Qantas is not yet out of the woods but there is optimism.
Across every category and every channel, marketers are struggling to keep pace with runaway demand for content. The choices are pay a premium locally, offshore cheaply or hand over to the machines. Hogarth Worldwide CEO, Justin Ricketts, thinks Australian brands are "at a tipping point" when it comes to outsourcing and creative automation. Only those that completely rebuild creative planning processes will succeed, he warns, while retailer media ups the ante.
A year on from Apple's privacy pinch, more than 70 per cent of Australia's Apple users have rejected being tracked by advertisers. Meanwhile, Facebook fallout will continue as small businesses suffer big losses in ad effectiveness, suggest SMB search specialists. The ad industry should prepare for further headwinds, warn data and privacy experts, as government gives regulators more resource to intervene and consumer advocates smell blood.
Coles’ new brand and digital chief has fired the starting pistol on a $100m-plus holdco scramble to prove who has the ultimate integrated model across just about every key marketing-CX-media discipline as it bids to catch Woolworths. Where and when it ends is anyone’s guess, including theirs, but consolidation at the top end of town now appears a confirmed trend.