Have you ever tried to place an advert with NZME, Stuff, Mediaworks or TVNZ?
There is a popular narrative about the state of New Zealand media in the past decade, it goes like this…
Traditional media is on its knees because Google and Facebook are taking the lion's share of the ad spend, and this is after Trademe obliterated the classifieds revenue the decade before. Now Netflix, Disney+, and maybe Spark, are ruining the business models of the broadcast media.
This is mostly true although it doesn't tell the full story because it doesn't take note of the media outlets that have changed or altered their business models, or begun entirely new ones - from specialist media such as CIO, Reseller News, Business Desk and NBR, through to new media such as The Spin Off and Newsroom.
Traditional mainstream media, such as the 'big four' - NZME, Stuff, Mediaworks and TVNZ - have been hit hard but most of the commentary I see centres around the journalism and the reader's experience (where there is plenty of innovation). This is usually accompanied by lots of talk about paywalls and mergers. There is almost never any discussion about the experience that the advertiser receives, which for the purposes of this blog I'm going to refer to as 'customers'.
In a world where Google and Facebook have successfully automated the experience of placing an advert, so it is easy and seamless to spend an advertising budget, how are the big four doing on this front?
Imagine you are a cakemaker who has budgeted for a $15,000 ad spend and you want to place an advert next week because your data shows that New Zealand households are most likely to buy Christmas cakes in the second and third week of December. You've done your research - you have a clear idea about who your customers are, you've got creative content such as videos, articles and recipes on your website to attract them and you have a chatbot deployed ready to provide assistance. All you need now are New Zealand eyeballs.
You go onto the websites of the big four to place your adverts, you want to know the following:
- How much it will cost
- That it will reach your customer
- How you will know if it's successful (outside of the data you are collecting)
- What you need to do to post an advert
When you click on the link for advertisers on each website - what do you find on the first page you click to (I've reduced the screen size so you can see the whole page)?
How much of the content on these pages contains information that is directly relevant to a potential customer?
- On NZME there are seven tiles before one that explains how to get started.
- Stuff's design is attractive but I'm not sure that info about the Round the Bays fun run is useful to a customer.
- Mediaworks provides information about it's reach.
- TVNZ invites you to check out a presentation, although to be fair it does have icons pointing to useful information.
From the home page it's not clear if our hypothetical cakemaker will be able to select and pay for an advert, or a series of adverts, on any of the platforms, right then and there.
Meanwhile over at Google, here's what our cakemaker will find on the home page:
They will see exactly what their advert will look like and be drawn to a big button that says - 'Start now' - and if they are still a bit unsure what to do a pop-up appears with instructions on how to seek help. This is not a new thing. Google and Facebook have been operating like this for some time.
Of course, there are lots of reasons why the traditional media's business models are struggliing, but I've often wondered why they don't create a more customer-centric online experience for casual advertisers. Or am I missing something?
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