Nine’s Upfronts: Here’s What Agency Bosses Had To Say

Nine’s Upfronts: Here’s What Agency Bosses Had To Say

Nine was back with its annual Upfronts presentation yesterday afternoon as it outlined its plans and programming to advertisers and agencies for the coming 12 months.

Once again the event was held virtually due to lockdown with a reported – and impressive –  5000 people tuning in for the show. The media giant also handed out goodie boxes to attendees that wonderfully included a 200ml bottle of Four Pillars Gin among other things.

You can check out all of B&T’s reporting of the event here with all the announcements and all the new shows heading Nine’s way.

To get a feel for what agency land made of the whole shebang, B&T asked leading players from agency land. Here’s what top agency bosses made of things:

Virginia Hyland, CEO Havas Media Group Australia and Havas Media Australia

Nine showed a solid line up of television shows for 2022. It will give media buyers confidence in knowing that Nine is not moving far from its successful show line up with The Block, MAFs, Ninja which appeal to middle Australia. Bringing back some old favourites such as Underbelly continuing interesting local stories to be told.

The angle of the Upfronts was to join up the dots. As Nine becomes more than a television company I was keen to hear how all of their great media came together alongside their data capabilities to drive serious audience insight leading to growth for advertisers. This part of the presentation needed more depth around how and why Nine is claiming to be the leader in technology. How does the data and the insight gained from the data inform their content decisioning across all of the media assets.

There is no doubt that Nine has serious capabilities across content, media channel and now data analytics. However depth is needed to explain how all of these working parts come together to create new opportunities for advertisers. My recommendation would be less focus on television shows and more detail around the new capabilities of Nine. More emphasis around the value and audience engagement across all media assets such as the SMH/The Age working hand in glove with 60 Minutes. More information on how media buyers can better utilise data to create greater insight for brands.

No doubt Nine will be a powerhouse for years to come. Now is the time to move away from a heavy emphasis on shows for 2022 when it is the same solid show line up. Spending more energy and effort to truly illustrate, in greater depth, how all parts integrate better to create usable and greater audience insight that inform content smarts.

Nik Doble, head of trading at OMD Melbourne

Connecting the dots was a fitting tag line for Nine’s 2022 Upfronts as the pipes of change introduced under Hugh Marks’ stewardship, the acquisition of Fairfax and Macquarie plus the advent of Stan and Galaxy, were connected as we entered the Sneesby age.

Central to this was further announcements on Nine’s tech and data roadmap and, after breaking ground with their Adobe partnership in 2021, the expansion to Salesforce, amongst others, signalled a more agnostic future for Nine and greater accessibility to their claimed 14 million addressable audience across all channels.

Complementing this technical capability with the looming integration of WIN further supported Nine’s claims to be ‘Australia’s media company’, finally breaking down the archaic metro and regional divide to create a truly national video audience strategy to rival the borderless reach of the global tech players.

However, with the focus on turning an impressive collection of Australian media brands into an audience buying powerhouse, the traditional ‘wow’ factor of new programs and talent that have long defined an upfront presentation had to take a back seat. All traditional formats return to underpin Nine’s 2022 line-up, with the most notable new additions being another swing at its only regular miss, the cooking format, Snack Masters, and a rival to MAFS in the controversy stakes, Parental Guidance.

Finally, the reference to attention-based trading by April 2022 certainly piqued interest as the most hotly debated metric amongst advertisers and agencies currently but, given it’s the latest of many tech and data advancements in recent years for Nine, I would envisage this is just a precursor to a 2023 upfront blitz. However, as has been the case in recent years, hats off again to Nine for leading the upfront charge.

Jennifer Donald, MediaCom Sydney group investment director

Nine presented a slick and professional Upfronts as expected, that showcased their entire media network and its strengths in news, sport and premium content. On those fronts it looks like 2022 will be another very consistent year for them.

The continued evolution of their audience data proposition with their newly announced partnership with Salesforce, is an exciting opportunity for more of our clients to be able to find their customers across Nine’s slate of premium properties and drive greater effectiveness with the ability to enable more personalisation at scale.

What I think is also very exciting for us as an agency and for our clients is Nine’s focus on integrating all their TV products, now including regional TV into Nine Galaxy and with their audio suite coming soon, meaning a seamlessly buying experience for us and more agile optimisation allowing us to follow audiences across the network and get the most efficient and effective outcomes for our clients.

Lastly, attention is definitely a hot topic of discussion in the industry and amongst our clients, so Nine’s investment into their partnership with Amplified Intelligence will unlock some really interesting insight into what areas of opportunity there are to optimise our clients’ campaigns to drive even stronger ROI across the Nine Entertainment network.

Elizabeth Baker, national head of investment, Zenith

Nine’s 2022 Upfronts was a jam-packed presentation with a focus on content, data and technology, including several interesting announcements. Emphasis from the outset was around what sets Nine apart as ‘Australia’s Media Company’ with unique distribution platforms that deliver scale at speed, the advantage of local media in a year where ‘community’ will be all the more important with evidence of effectiveness at the core of Nine’s approach. Operationally too, there were several exciting announcements.

The key messages that I took out of the presentation were:

  • Connect with 14 million signed-in users and use Nine’s data – a simple and effective way of communicating their signed in user solutions that is in line with the digital transformation of clients that has been expedited due to COVID. Adding audio and digital mastheads will only make this more powerful.
  • Realise bigger ideas using Powered across all of Nine’s platforms – showcasing Powered through the lens of clients that have used it and been successful was a smart move. It felt like less of sales pitch and I could see the integration clearly. I’ll be keen to see how attention metrics come to life in their responses.
  • Increased efficiencies to be had by embracing leading automated buying technology using Nine Galaxy – the opportunity extending to regional TV which is great, including live avails* and radio.

This last point, whilst perhaps less sexy than content announcements or new data partnerships, was music to my ears. Zenith has been an early adopter of Galaxy in the market and seeing the efficiencies it delivers – campaign delivery wise and operationally – the extension into regional automation with WIN inventory and radio is exciting. It is just a pity that we don’t have this tech across the total network ecosystem!

Content-wise – solid and consistent. News and Sport are strong. Not a great deal of new content, with the staples promising a twist for a freshen-up.

Personally, I am looking forward to Underbelly – Vanishing Act.  The story is recent and still very fascinating. It shows great agility to produce a program such as this with a very short time-gap from actual events.

It was good to see continued belief in the power of the publishing platforms and the connection they have with audiences. I’m very excited to see where they take Good Food next year – it could turn into a really powerful asset for some of our clients.

The Salesforce piece was a positive development as Adobe was somewhat limiting if clients didn’t use the Adobe suite of products. Having numerous data partners will allow more clients access and opportunity for deeper and enriched data capabilities.

Philippa NoileaTani, National head of trading, Wavemaker

The first off the rank, Nine delivered a slick Upfronts, with a laser focus on their unrivalled scale, quality and innovation.

Publishers, agencies and marketers alike have all felt the challenges of the last 18 months gone by, and conversely been inspired by the opportunities these challenges have created for brands, particularly with the explosion of e-commerce. Captured by Nine as the catalyst for change, Covid was described as the driving and influential force, shifting the way we think, act and learn. At Wavemaker, as we support our clients return to market and establish their new norm, we are seeking solutions that Nine have promised to deliver on, including trusted and responsible local journalism, ad formats to fuel e-commerce ambitions, trading technology to mitigate risk, premium content with innovative integration opportunities and an identity solution that powers live journey planning.

Trusted and responsible local journalism

Pinned as Australia’s largest News organisation, connecting journalists from broadcast, publishing and radio, Nine’s news strategy has been underpinned by a clear message that trust and accountability matters most.

Ad formats to fuel e-commerce ambitions

New shoppable ad formats across Nine’s publishing assets including lifestyle brands such as Sunday Life.

Trading technology to mitigate risk

Galaxy, a market leading automation platform has provided us with confidence and the ability to off-set audience volatility in challenging conditions. The inclusion of regional TV, radio and video on demand inventory within Galaxy is a welcome update, and a smart move in supporting the future of total television but also the growth for Nine’s broader eco-system. Real time access to inventory and avails is a compelling opportunity in a high demand market, and I’m looking forward to hearing more.

Premium content with innovative integration opportunities

A solid backbone of live Sport, local drama’s and reality with the right balance of tried, tested and successful formats and new programming.

An identity solution that powers live journey planning and activation

The shift in timing for the ‘demise’ of the cookie hasn’t detracted Nine from the ongoing evolution of their Audience Match product, with the announcement to integrate with Salesforce, extending beyond existing Adobe and LiveRamp integrations.

Nine have the scale, the content, data, technology and talent to deliver powerful solutions for advertisers. Creativity and effectiveness remain the key to unlocking this potential. I look forward to partnering closely with Nine across 2022, to find creative ways to leverage their scale, to connect Australians with brands in meaningful ways, with strong return on investment.

Craig Cooper, chief investment officer, Carat

Given it was new Nine’s boss Mike Sneezby’s first Upfronts, what he and the team delivered was a very professional and engaging presentation; and with the addition of a live Q&A function, they were able to encourage audience participation and interactivity.

The self-proclaimed ‘Australia’s Media Company’ had the right blend between acknowledgement of the struggles the world has endured over the last 18 months, as well as their aspirational and emotionally charged content slate for 2022. The theme of the Upfronts was Connect the Dots, which showcased the connection between each of Nine’s platforms (TV, Digital, Print & Radio). Each platform got a time to shine, and all built up to Nine’s push for 1st party data dominance – which in a future post cookie world, will setup Nine for success within the addressable space.

Overall, it was a very safe Upfronts for Nine, with a evolution of existing formats like The Block: Tree Change, and Celebrity Apprentice again with Lord Sugar, as well as new and fresh concepts like Snack Masters and Parental Guidance.

We (dentsu) were very pleased with the announcement of Nine’s future plans in the Attention arena, given we launched the ‘Attention Economy Study’ in 2019. If Nine are successful in layering in robust Attention data into their ecosystem, advertisers will be able to seriously maximise ROI, by focussing on the areas that have higher consumer mental availability; a huge leap forward for the industry.

Mat Rawnsley, head of connections and media, The Hallway 

Now led from the front by Mike Sneesby, there is no doubt that Nine will have a broadly compelling advertising proposition in 2022. I believe them. The fusion of Nine’s traditionally blockbusting TV product and the former Fairfax publishing assets still takes some getting used to almost three years later. High integrity print-based journalism and the TV ‘news’ assets are not quite believable bedfellows yet.

The data and audience targeting story is a very strong and well told one. Big news with the Salesforce integration, that is worth crowing about. Along with the Adobe partnership, it’s a critical play for brands at the big end of town.

Onto TV, and Richard Hunwick pulled their ‘whole of TV’ story together very well. The guaranteed audience product is huge – that would’ve saved me from the edge of madness many years ago as a beleaguered media buyer. I’ll freely admit I was starting to drift a bit as the presentation bounced from the necessary sports highlights to the abrupt shock of Scott Cam booming at me and the general whirl of the reality offering. Plenty of dependable assets, but not much that’s new. Is Snack Masters a Masterchef for stoners? Vice should get in on that. Parental Guidance is a concept that I’m sure will be a ratings bonanza. Great insight. Meanwhile, poor old local drama barely got a mention – Underbelly: Melissa Caddick too soon?

But then came the highlight for me, as a comms strategy guy obsessed with effectiveness. The language and focus of the Powered offering put forth was brilliant. Their client testimonials and case study references were good, but it was the commitment to brand growth principles that lifted me. Announcing a partnership with the formidable Dr Karen Nelson Field’s Amplified Intelligence to better measure attention is a masterstroke and a development I’ll watch with keen interest.

Michael Stephenson bought the whole thing home, despite some unnervingly comedic camera angles being inflicted on him. I thought he and Karl Stefanovic were best in show. Honourable mention to Gus Gould’s performance, especially when solemnly lingering next to Roz Kelly as she discussed driving purchase intent and other marketing funnel blah, no doubt top of mind for Gus.

Chris Walton, managing director at Nunn Media

I was very impressed with their presentation. To be fair, at first I thought I would be calling ‘House’ on my Upfronts Bingo card in record time – opening with a nicely produced hype tape (tick), intro by leading hosts (tick), followed by a few well delivered if unremarkable words by the CEO (tick).  All it needed was Hamish Blake to appear in some goofy fancy dress and I would have been home and hosed within about eight minutes.

As it was, I was proved wrong – a very slick delivery by the cleverly positioned ‘Australia’s Media Company’ that rammed home very well the depth and breadth of an impressive integrated offering. There was a real sense that all the hard work behind the scenes over the last few years now has the ability to really deliver at scale across all channels. The strength of news, current affairs, sport and existing marquee programming was very evident, backed up by a continually evolving data and technology infrastructure and driven by a sales team and Powered resource that you sense has worked out how to work – all great for advertisers.

One of the more engaging Upfronts I have attended in recent years, and for that they need to be congratulated.

At the same time there were two disappointments for me, one of them major. Overall the slate of new content is weak, and I thought for a while they had forgotten completely about drama.  Maybe they feel they don’t need it, but it was 45 minutes into the show before any new programming was announced, and that was Snack Masters. Hmmm…

And the other new programming? Make sure you aren’t feeling too low before you start watching it as most of it is hardly going to bring you up.

The other disappointment – a tough call – but it was 10 minutes too long. They had done the sell-in very well before that. Longer than an hour via livestream is too long.

However, I don’t want to take away from what was overall a compelling session.

Jo Gaines, area vice president, Digital 360, Salesforce Australia

Nine is a true trailblazer. Its approach to first party data means marketers will be able to expand insights, deliver cross channel personalisation and build even stronger relationships with customers in an environment which protects the privacy of the customer.

Customers are now digital-first. Every moment counts, no matter where, how, or with whom it takes place. Relationships are built on a collection of moments. Customers expect these moments to be connected, timely, relevant, human and built on trust.

Data is the steel thread that connects every moment across the relationship between brands and consumers. With Salesforce CDP marketers can engage with relevance, personalise every moment, and build trusted customer relationships.




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Nine Upfronts

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