Boomtown chairperson Brian Gallagher talks Covid-19 and online innovations
Boomtown is a million-dollar regional trade marketing campaign that is a collaboration between Southern Cross Austereo, Prime Media Group, WIN Network, Australian Community Media, Imparja, Grant Broadcasters, News Corp Australia and oOh!media.
With Australia beginning to slowly open back up again Mediaweek spoke with Boomtown’s chairperson Brian Gallagher about how Boomtown approached the pandemic, its education program, and its new online Hub.
“When Covid hit we kind of felt a little embarrassed about being called ‘Boomtown’ when everything was going belly-up, so we paused things for a heartbeat. When we could see the Australian marketplace had done all the right things to get through the crisis we relaunched with ‘From Lockdown to Boomtown’ and proudly hit the market again, I think the team that put that together had a stroke of genius,” Gallagher said.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, Gallagher said he looked at the Global Financial Crisis as a reference to what he could expect but said that the opposite occurred.
“The recovery rates for regional radio and TV, at least for my business, outstrip metro. A lot of the fear of a decline for regional media markets didn’t happen.
“We have maintained a very good base of advertisers which I think is Boomtown related, after the work that we have been doing to remind audiences that there are valuable audiences in Boomtown.”
Gallagher believes brand recognition is one reason why regional ad spend was not as affected during the pandemic as it was during the GFC.
“Regional media markets weren’t running a specific campaign around recognising the benefits in those territories. Post GFC was where programmatic trading really came into its own and that sucked a lot of money out of traditional media at that time.
“That has all settled down and the other difference is brand recognition, which for Boomtown as a market is through the roof. After three years of campaigning and flying the flag, suffice to say, advertising actually works.”
Education program and the Boomtown online hub
Boomtown launched its education initiative in 2020, designed to provide media professionals with a better understanding of the regional media landscape.
This year the education program will include online masterclasses run in partnership with the Media Federation of Australia and NGEN, along with face-to-face sessions nationwide. Marketing expert, Gaye Steel, will again facilitate the online courses.
Gallagher said that education and increasing regional ad spend figures go hand in glove together with the need to communicate facts to potential clients. This includes the fact that 40% of GDP (gross domestic product) comes from the Boomtown regions.
“We will educate 300+ people this year, which is double what we did last year, and we will do double that again next year. We will just keep investing in education because it is targeted to clients and agency folk but also those newer buyers that are best described as digital natives who can start thinking more holistically about our island and everyone on it.”
Earlier this month Boomtown announced its online Hub which is designed to change the face of regional media planning, by integrating regional media across a comprehensive network of maps, category insights and a consolidated briefing portal.
The Hub includes:
• Interactive media coverage maps and search tools, providing visibility of the networks and publishers operating in each regional market.
• Opportunities across digital, television, print, radio and out of home across hundreds of assets and thousands of markets.
• Access to insights across 10 key categories including retail, automotive, finance and travel.
• Streamlined briefing with one avenue to multiple regional media owners, aimed at improving workflow and reducing manual processes.
Gallagher said that the online Hub plays a big part in educating clients about regional media but also makes it easier for them to action ad spend.
“The Boomtown Hub is taking clients through a very basic but insightful dissection of the brand sales propensity of their particular categories.
“To be able to tap in your network of distribution, whether it be by postcode or market, and to be able to easily see what media outlets are available in those areas is just taking levels of difficulty out of play. As a first go, the Boomtown Hub is a pretty useful tool and as we continually get agency and client feedback about its utility we will just keep evolving it.
“It will be a good resource for people to really think about not the difference between the markets but the similarities.”
Gallagher said that the education program and the Hub shows clients there are no gaps in the commercial opportunities in regional media when compared to the metro markets.
“It is a very basic education to say here is the market and here is the revenue you can earn and guess what? Pound for pound per capita it is probably identical to what you are doing now.”
Gallagher said that he is not quite sure where they will take the Boomtown Hub but as it gets easier to deploy the platform there may be other services that they add to the framework.
“A client using a basic tool in the hub can contact all the regional media vendors simultaneously with a brief, and we have a quick response team process where each organisation responds to that brief and they resolve a planning situation pretty quickly and easily that way.
“What it doesn’t do, it doesn’t sell them the inventory, so they have to go back to the vendors to transact. Purely speculation on my part but perhaps there is a mechanism there that will allow certain clients to come in and just transact. We are not there yet but everything is on the table.”
Despite all of Boomtowns digital innovations, Gallagher says that with Australia moving into a different stage of its Covid response that the next 12 months is an opportunity to get back out in the market with clients.
“The thing I am excited about is the ability for myself and my other regional colleagues to put a whole bunch of CMO’s on a plane, bus, or train and take them out and show them the best of Boomtown one on one.”