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Shoppable TV, retail media partnerships, and ad tiers dominated this year's upfronts season Down Under

A connected TV is brimming with finger cursors, with some laying on the floor.

Illustration by Nick DeSantis / Shutterstock / The Current

The Australian media industry is winding down from its annual upfronts season, and shoppable TV, retail media, and accelerating ad tiers are emerging as the stars of TV publishers’ plans to scale in 2024 and beyond.

The Current had a front-row seat to the presentations, where top executives from Australia’s media giants shared their latest announcements during a series of exclusive events over the last few weeks. As marketers grapple with a fast-changing TV ad environment and plan for next year, here are the key areas to watch.

Shoppable TV to hit Australian shores

Already popular across the U.S. and U.K., shoppable TV is expected to land in Australia in early 2024. This format doesn’t disrupt premium content and collapses the traditional marketing funnel — taking a medium historically reserved for “awareness” and allowing viewers to go right to a purchase.

As announced during Paramount’s upfront presentation, the platform is rolling out this capability for Australian marketers to test during the upcoming season of Australian Survivor, premiering at the end of January 2024.

With consumers reported to be increasingly receptive to these types of ads, Paramount’s rollout is a well-timed move. According to a recent survey from Samsung Ads and AI-powered video and tech platform Kerv Interactive in Australia, 79 percent of respondents either scanned a shoppable QR code or looked up the product online to find out more information after seeing an ad. Meanwhile, 45 percent either scanned to purchase or bought the product later in person or on a different device.

“By seamlessly integrating interactive elements into the content, viewers [can] actively engage with products and explore them in greater detail. This presents brands with the opportunity to offer a seamless purchasing experience through shoppable TV,” Rod Prosser, chief sales officer of Paramount Australia, tells The Current.

Retail media partnerships

Retail media is a marketing trend that’s expanding around the globe reshaping the advertising landscape as it increasingly converges with the world of connected TV (CTV). Projections by PwC indicate that the Australian retail media market is set to reach a value of AU$2 billion by mid-2026, while the global retail media market is on track to hit USD$20.8 billion this year.

Moving with this next wave, Nine’s upfront last week showcased a retail media partnership program called RTLX, which the network said will amplify and extend the omnichannel ecosystem of its retail media partners and help advertisers multiply the returns on their retail media investments using Nine’s suite of assets, content, and first-party data. 

“The recent developments in retail media, driven by digitalization, offer significant opportunities, notably when combined with the extensive reach of connected TV,” Ori Gold, CEO of advertising agency Bench Media, tells The Current about the news.

He adds that this cross-channel activity not only broadens the scope to engage with new audiences at the initial and final stages of the buying process but also provides marketers with unparalleled data points to understand consumer behaviors, enabling more meaningful connections.

“We expect this trend to grow significantly in the next few years, with many media and retail providers partnering up to have an all-encompassing offering on both assets,” he says.

SVOD platforms turn to AVOD

Following the lead of popular streaming platforms like Netflix and Binge in Australia, as well as Disney in the U.S., last week Paramount revealed its strategy for introducing premium and ad-supported subscription options to its international audience, primarily through its streaming service, Paramount+.

This move intends to create a vast inventory and advertising ecosystem for Paramount that will connect traditional linear TV with digital channels. Paramount's expansion efforts also encompass other assets like Network 10, its broadcast video on demand platform 10Play, the subscription video on demand (SVOD) service Paramount+, and the increasingly popular free ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV.

“The introduction of the premium and ad-supported plans will give us the ability to better serve different consumer segments by providing multiple pricing options while also tapping in to tremendous opportunities among our advertising and brand partners,” Marco Nobili, EVP and international GM of Paramount+, explained during the event.

Cable TV’s Foxtel releases new measurement system

In the dynamic world of broadcasting, accurate TV measurement is the lifeblood that empowers networks to gain deep insights into their audiences, curate content, gauge the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, and boost revenue. In an era marked by evolving viewing habits and the imperative to assess return on investment, staying at the forefront of TV measurement is essential for broadcasters to not just survive but thrive.

The recent Foxtel upfront event held last week revealed a development that left attendees buzzing: The introduction of an audience measurement service, a joint venture with Kantar Media. Setting itself apart from conventional rating measurement systems, which rely on data from a limited sample of Australian households, this innovative service will aggregate data from over 1 million Foxtel set-top boxes. The result, they hope? A potentially revolutionary shift toward a more precise and all-encompassing understanding of what viewers are genuinely tuning in to.

Addressing the audience at Foxtel Media's 2024 upfront, CEO Mark Frain mentioned the digital turning point achieved in viewership, with a substantial 66 percent (comprising 3.1 million subscribers) of the company's customer base now embracing its streaming services. Frain emphasized the struggle of existing rating methodologies to keep pace with the lightning-fast shift in viewership toward digital streaming platforms.

"As a collective, the Foxtel Group is now armed with an unprecedented wealth of viewership data, and we require an advanced solution capable of harnessing these extensive data sets," he said.