Don’t treat regional media as a charity, but a real growth opportunity: That’s the message from Boomtown’s final masterclass of 2023, attended by almost 100 media industry representatives from across the nation.
The masterclass was part of a series of educational sessions, delivered by Boomtown, the media collective championing advertising in regional Australia. The sessions are designed to showcase the opportunities presented by regional advertising, providing agencies with advice on how to use regional media to engage with audiences.
During the final 2023 masterclass, participants heard from a panel of experts, including Initiative Chief Strategy and Product Officer Chris Colter (lead image), ARN National Regional Commercial Operations Director Brian Tanner and Boomtown Chairman Brian Gallagher.
Colter told the masterclass that heading into 2024, he hoped Boomtown wouldn’t be treated as a charity by media buyers, but as a real growth opportunity, given the bang for buck it can deliver for brands. “There’s cost efficiencies to be gained in regional media. [The] big consultation we have with our clients is that advertising spend doesn’t need to match the population percentage dollar-for-dollar, but it should match your focus and attention,” he said. “It’s less about how much you invest, but how you invest to unlock that opportunity.”
Colter believes regional advertising campaigns have the power to not just deliver significant ROI for brands, but to leave a lasting impact on consumers.
Boomtown’s efforts come at a time of significant growth for the nation’s regional areas, with 9.6 million Australians – 36% of the overall population – currently calling Boomtown home. Since the pandemic, regional migration has recorded double digit growth, averaging 11.7% in 2023; well up on figures recorded in 2018 and 2019.
Despite the population influx, just 17% of national brands are advertising in regional areas.
In an industry survey by Boomtown, nine in 10 marketers and brand strategists said there was a barrier stopping them from investing in regional audiences, with 20% stating they don’t know where to start.
Colter hoped the masterclass would demystify the notion of regional advertising representing wasted money, noting that spending on regional campaigns had the power to go further and do more. “In regional towns you’re so saturated with local marketing, which is fantastic; that’s what builds the community. But there’s something special when a Nike ad is actually broadcast in a regional town. Regional residents like feeling seen by brands; it makes them feel connected to the world”.
at large, and I think that generates some really strong lifetime respect from those audiences. A small investment can actually go a long way in delivering that impact,” he said.
“It’s about looking at national concepts that can be executed locally. So, from a blue chip advertising perspective: what are some of the concepts that the media can come up with that we can buy across multiple markets that you can execute at a local level?’” said Tanner.
Colter encouraged participants to add regional media planning to their 2024 strategies, even if they had already been inked with their clients. “It’s not too late to add regional media to your planning. It is important for agencies to relate regional advertising spend back to the principles you’ve set to achieve the brand’s objectives. And with a powerful bank of statistics [on regional advertising ROI] in your arsenal, you’re able to do that. It’s about communicating that you’re still charting the same course, but you’re making a tweak, based on fresh insights to give a disproportionate advantage,” he said.
And it’s this advantage that Colter believes will help get many brands over the line for Boomtown campaigns in 2024.
“Don’t underestimate the power of a bit of corporate jealousy. If there are people that are competitors investing in this space, they could potentially get a competitive advantage against your client,” he said. “Just share those stories: ‘this is what other people are doing, you’re missing out on an opportunity’; arm them with some ammunition to create a little bit of a circuit breaker in your client’s mind where they need to plug the gap to reclaim their competitive advantage”.
The overall message from the final 2023 Boomtown masterclass: the regions truly deliver when it comes to spend versus results – and it’s continuing to grow. “Over the course of the last 20 years, the advertising landscape has completely turned on its head,” Gallagher said.
“What’s gratifying to know is that while consumers have access to a multitude of devices, the regions have managed to stay relevant and we’ve maintained our reach levels. In that environment, the amount of money coming into regional media is growing, and the number of advertisers that are using regional platforms is growing; it’s fantastic to see so many new advertisers coming in and enjoying the space.”