07/10/2013 - 05:13

This column sponsored by …

07/10/2013 - 05:13


Save articles for future reference.

Having children changes your life forever – in most ways significantly for the better. There are, however, a couple of things I've refused to surrender to family.

Having children changes your life forever – in most ways significantly for the better. There are, however, a couple of things I've refused to surrender to family.

My morning browse of the newspapers is one of them. I'm part of a select group of people who still grubby our fingers each morning to get a fix of parish pump outrage, political scandal and a sprinkling of international conflict.

I like to think of us as an elite set, but 'ageing' is probably closer to the truth.

I was mid-way through this edifying ritual this morning when I realised an age-old tug-of-war was reaching some shrill, new heights.

It's an ugly skirmish that flares up in tough economic times and increasingly it's splashed across the front page.

It is, of course, old media's battle to unearth new advertising revenue in the face of an ever-diversifying media landscape.

You know money is tight when newspapers agree to forego decades of tradition and literally wrap the news in advertising.

Even worse are the smaller but far more annoying incursions whereby advertising 'teasers' are plonked in the middle of stories.

And I wonder whether these irritating interruptions are worth the extra dollars they pull in, especially when they don't even make me laugh.

You see the key to good advertising for me is wit, especially in the morning.

I can forgive almost any interruption if it's entertaining; it's just that so little advertising ticks this vital box.

In these uncertain times, the advertisers are in a very powerful position. The media old guard has watched new media swallow up cash cows such as classified advertising in one bite.

In response, many organisations have been forced to rethink their stance on advertising protocols; and for newspapers this has pushed advertising further and further forward in the paper.

Some of it has been clever, such as the post-it note campaigns that caught the attention but then could be peeled off to reveal the stories underneath.

But a lot of it is the same old format just slapped on the front page.

I assume advertisers are willing to pay big money for these renegade positions; perhaps they even pitch them as concepts.

In time, however, consumers will get used to the idea of big, noisy ads on the front page (or ads as the front page) and the premium will disappear.

Then again I prefer them to 'advertising features' or the even murkier world of the advertorial, which as far as I can see is the backbone to many a glossy, lifestyle magazine.

It doesn't take the skills of an investigative journalist to make the connection between a full-page ad located a few pages away from a double page editorial feature.

It's the growth of this paid-up content that we should really be afraid of, although I have no doubt its tentacles reach deep into Australia's political and business worlds in many subtle and troubling ways.

But it's not just newspapers that are scrambling to get their hands on fresh advertising revenue.

Network Ten's new morning show, Wake Up, hit the headlines last week over its inclusion of 'Australia's smallest McDonald's outlet' on its set.

All I can think is that the public outcry over live odds in sports broadcasting didn't reach the marketing department at Network Ten.

It's the only way to explain the bizarre decision to include a mini-McDonald's in its as yet-to-be launched breakfast show.

Perhaps any publicity is good publicity.

The golden arches may not attract the same level of vilification as gambling, but the big fast food outlets are in a pretty hot spot in this age of obesity.

I'm sure it's a lucrative arrangement for Ten, but at a time when major sporting teams are distancing themselves from sponsorship deals with fast food businesses, it goes against the grain.

And it's worth remembering it wasn't the NRL or Channel 9 onto which consumers turned their wrath – it was Tom Waterhouse, the station's advertising client.

These are treacherous waters for all media outlets to navigate, but surely some creative thinking from both sides of the fence is the best solution.


Subscription Options