Marketing

Why Australian businesses are the new owned media moguls

Jonathan Hopkins /

Trying to explain the value of owned media can be difficult, but Russel Howcroft from ABC’s The Gruen Transfer nailed it when he said Chemist Warehouse is already making millions from their suppliers before selling a single product.

For those not across it, owned media refers to any media channel businesses own. For example, screens, point-of-sale, posters in stores, websites, email newsletters, mobile apps, call centres and even delivery trucks.

Along with many other businesses, Chemist Warehouse is doing this because they have successfully positioned themselves as media owners. Yes, the core business remains a pharmacy but they have joined the media revolution where businesses are making money by utilising the owned media they already have.

Australia’s owned media market is valued at  $96 billion and this is set to grow, with Marketing Week predicting owned media monetisation will be one of the top five trends this year.

Leading the way

The fastest growing division in Amazon is not its e-commerce sales or even services like Prime, but their media sales division. According to research firm, EMarketer Inc, revenues have more than doubled from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $4.6 billion in 2018.

This was before Amazon’s disparate media divisions were centralised into one unit, which Wall Street firm S.G. Coven estimates could generate ad sales revenue of US$24.8 billion ($36 billion) in five years’ time.

In March Australia’s Woolworths positioned itself to take advantage of its vast multimedia network when it launched Cartology, a media business which operates outside of the purview of the supermarket chain and is responsible for creating hundreds of millions of incremental revenue.

US shopping behemoth Walmart was an early adopter of unlocking the value of owned media assets when it launched Walmart Media in 2005 while the UK’s Harrods created Harrods Media in 2011.

I’m not suggesting every business should start its own media unit but the fact is owned media leverage represents a very real opportunity for many Australian businesses.

Whether you are a small, medium or large business, if you attract your customer’s attention through media channels, you can unlock enormous levels of revenue. Let’s be honest, in the current retail climate, you don’t hear the words ‘new revenue opportunities’ very often!

Making all business owners media moguls

Owned media is generally undervalued and underutilised in Australia largely because of a lack of understanding about the possibilities it provides. But businesses are starting to understand the true value at their disposal by recognising three important truths:

They own vast multimedia ecosystems

Below is a summary of the various owned media channels typically utilised by a business:

Stores Digital Direct Physical Staff
Static Posters / POS Website Emails Posters Intranet
Screens Blog Direct Mail Call centre App
POS screens Social media App Catalogue Email
WiFi login Podcasts SMS Custom Magazine
Activation zones Trucks
Radio Packaging

Data Source: Nielsen 

If further proof was needed, look at the top 100 websites in Australia and you’ll find more retailers than ‘traditional’ media owners:

Customer trust

Trust is a powerful purchase driver. You can’t truly connect with a customer without trust and advertisers need to connect in order to grow. I would argue customers have significantly more trust of the businesses they shop with than media owners where they consume content.

Proximity to point-of-purchase

The third and probably most compelling reason retailers are poised to be the media moguls of the future, is their proximity to point-of-purchase. Shop! (formerly known as POPAI), the global association advocating for excellence in shopper marketing and retail experience, found that a staggering 82 per cent of purchase decisions are made in the store.

Practical guide to leveraging media assets

Armed with the understanding why retailers are powerful media owners and aware of the significant revenue opportunity, the million-dollar question is how do business owners, of all sizes, take advantage of it? 

There are three steps:

  1. Value your owned media assets by conducting an audit of what you have and its audience reach;
  2. Unlock this potential by identifying what needs to be done to make these assets commercially viable; and
  3. Commercialise the assets by delivering a triple win: for your customers, your suppliers and your profitability.

You’re almost there

Businesses have already done the hard part in becoming media moguls of the future by investing in creating fully functioning and effective media channels. The opportunity which presents itself now is to change the focus on the lens a little and embrace being a media owner to generate highly profitable new revenue streams.

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Jonathan Hopkins

Jonathan Hopkins is a co-founding partner of Sonder and has 30 years’ experience working in media marketing. He's passionate about helping companies unlock the value of their owned assets.

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