In this week’s MediaRoom column: who is soaking up all the advertising dollars?; TV’s two alpha male news anchors in new public promotions; One week on from the launch of the Herald paywall.

Advertisers go digital, back TV, radio

COMMENT: Latest statistics for where advertisers are spending their money show television and radio revenues remain relatively stable while magazines and newspapers’ ad income and share of the market continue to shrink.

‘Digital’, or the advertising spending on non-media online sites and platforms, is now 40 percent of the total New Zealand advertising market. 

At $903 million in 2018, it is closing in on the magic billion dollar mark after rising by 91 percent in the past five years, according to the Advertising Standards Authority annual turnover figures.

The total that firms are spending on advertising rose to $2.63 billion, from $2.56b the year earlier, so the sales dollars are still flowing.

But in the trend evident for the past decade, printed products are unable to attract their former share of that spend as digital advertising options proliferate.

Newspapers saw their advertising income slip from $353m in 2017 to $324m last year and are off 31 percent over the past five years. Their digital sites grew their income by almost 130 percent in the same period but the numbers are still just over a quarter of print, at $94m in 2018 (up from $41m in 2015).

Magazines similarly lost revenue, down $11m to $173m in print for the year and off 17 percent over the past three years but boosting digital income by a third to $30m in the same period.

Advertising spending on television was $556m last year, down $10m year-on-year and 7 percent from three years earlier. Television, too, boosted digital revenues in that time, by 55 percent to $31m.

Radio was the other stable sector, down just $1m to $276m for the year and actually up by 2 percent from three years ago.

Radio has also kept its share of advertisers’ spending remarkably even, holding at 10.6 percent, down slightly from 2017 but the same share as in 2016 and 2015.

Television has 22.3 percent of the spend from 24.2 in 2015. Newspapers, the most challenged by digital advertising disruption, have experienced a drop in market share over the same period from 20 percent to 15.9 percent.

The digital spending away from news media sites has grown market share from 31 percent in 2015 to 36 percent a year ago and now 40 percent.

Broadcasters’ success in holding out against the digital threat comes in the face of strong audience competition from video on-demand services or music streaming apps, and for television, declining free-to-air audience numbers in some former prime time slots.

Promoting the Presenters

1News and Newshub both have their male 6pm new presenters out in the public eye at the moment but in vastly different guises.

While bus stops around Auckland display 1News‘ Simon Dallow in a serious black and white, on-assignment advertisement with the message ‘Wants the Facts’, his Newshub counterpart Mike McRoberts is most commonly seen now posing with an oiled, bare chest in the flamboyant costumes of Dancing with the Stars.

The contrast is a coincidence of timing. Or is it? Did TVNZ run out this execution of its news brand campaign now in the knowledge McRoberts would be all abs, cha-cha and pout around this time?

McRoberts has made a pretty good fist of the DWTS challenges, surviving the early weeks and avoiding the freak show label of some past older celebrity contestants. He will have been performing to audiences more than 50 percent larger than those that watch him doing the news.

His previous public persona had long been carefully crafted to focus on his visits to world hotspots in flak jackets and his longevity as a news anchor.

Dallow, a former lawyer who has held the 1News chair for even longer, still has that serious aura intact, staring from the serious news brand campaign as he goes after ‘the facts’. 

McRoberts is having a bit of fun, being objectified for his body and raising his profile. 

Herald paywall  

The New Zealand Herald website paywall is in its second week and readers are starting to see how many stories will be free and how many for subscribers only.

On its first days the home page was chock full of the yellow-tagged ‘Premium’ content, emphasising its availability and impressive scale and range – from news to business, sport and even entertainment. 

Where at first there were perhaps three free stories in the top 15 items on the home page, that seems to have reversed at times, with up to 10 of the leading 15 being free. Premium-heavy sections like Business have also included a degree more free material as time goes on.

That could be a factor of resourcing – it is costly and time-consuming to gather and report chargeable content in the quantity displayed at the launch of the paywall – or it could be a response to readership numbers naturally falling as people used to dipping into anything on the site drifted off when facing the yellow bricks that make up the paywall.

The Herald‘s audience number for the site will likely have fallen appreciably and that for its free competitor,, risen considerably in the past 10 days. But that will have been planned for by Herald owners NZME. It takes time for online readers to decide to sign up for Premium subscriptions, and it also takes time for print subscribers to get around to activating their free digital accounts.

All the social media talk of boycotts of the website because of the $5 weekly charge will dissipate. Haters are gonna hate. All the talk of hacking the paywall to read stories for free will continue, probably accepted quietly by the paper as inevitable and having the upside of boosting readership of Premium content.

If the quality of the journalism so far holds, the Herald will have a good chance of signing up the modest number of Premium subscribers it initially seeks.

Tim Murphy is co-editor of Newsroom. He writes about politics, Auckland, and media. Twitter: @tmurphynz

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