Kurt Burnette on Seven's ambition to cut through ratings clutter

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 17 July 2018

This first appeared in the AdNews July Magazine

Ratings clutter, connected TV and misrepresented multi–channels are just a few of the areas in Seven's chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette's sights this year.

Burnette said TV content needs to be measured by a new "definition" of success, and bought and sold as "total video".

For Seven, this includes the national overnight broadcast ratings, timeshift, encores, streaming and Video Player Measurement (VPM), which includes live streaming and catch–up.

Burnette said the recent Sunday Night interview with Barnaby Joyce and his former media adviser, now partner, Vikki Campion, is an example of getting the results wrong.

“All the press were talking about was how the show didn't perform overnight, with a 640,000 metro number,” he said.

“When you look at what actually happened, metro and regional ratings went over a million people, there was time shift at 60,000, then there was live streaming of 6000, and video–on–demand [VOD] at 30,000.”

Burnette said this is where the focus on total video should be — not just from a reporting perspective, but from that of media buyers and planners.

Once the content is out there and getting used and getting reported in a “factually consistent method”, Burnette believes it will change the way media agencies invest clients' money into the medium.

“When those things happen — not if, but when — at scale and on a more consistent basis, then it's just going to become the 'business as usual' approach in the way things are bought and sold,” he explained.

One of the “under–utilised” areas of the new television ecosystem that Burnette believes is being stung by traditional ratings measurement is connected TV, which is any TV that can be connected to the internet.

Not only are media agencies not seeing the benefits of the medium, he said, but it is the “single greatest media marketing opportunity in market”.

“I think it is no understatement to say that it's the most ignored, yet at the same time, the biggest media opportunity that currently exists,” Burnette emphasised.

“The ad in front of and in between the long–premium content on the TV screen is brand–safe, 100% viewable, and delivers proven effectiveness.”

For Seven, connected TV represents 53% of viewing in live streaming and VOD views.

“When you think about that, it's a huge step forward for the medium, especially in the growing live streaming and VOD space,” Burnette said.

“Yet, I would say that of all the revenue that's been invested in online, it would be a fraction of a percentage that's been invested into connected TV.”

As the network continues to adapt to the new total video ecosystem, Burnette revealed the company will continue to invest heavily in its multi–channel strategy as well, with its male–skewed channel 7mate at the centre.

As Seven's leading multi-channel, Burnette said 7mate regularly generates high overnight audience shares, at times outperforming the network's own local market channels.

“We are fine with that, as it’s the total audience across channels that we are selling and what advertisers want — they all very much work together,” he explained.

"7mate is the most consistent, targeted and most engaged men’s destination, with men aged 16–54 spending more than four hours every month with the channel and its content online.”

The network views multi–channels as one of the "lost stories" in the conversation because they're often seen and labelled as secondary channels, when, in Seven's case, they make up an important part of its viewing audience.

Nine's Love Island, which was commissioned for both its multi–channel 9Go! and its VOD platform 9Now, is an example of success in this space.

Continuing its strong digital growth for the percentage of total audience from broadcast video–on–demand (BVOD), views of the program's first episode on 9Now make up 53% of the total audience.

The episode also has an on demand average VPM of 225,000.

“It's a really clear content strategy. We use all of the different mediums, including the multi–channels as well as the catch–up services, to reach a very tough to get audience,” Burnette said.

“That's the real opportunity for advertisers too, and arguably the one that is too often ignored. It's now time for them to see the whole picture.”

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