Column – Phil Bilbrough
TVNZ’s World Of News Campaign
About 80% of all sites that a New Zealander looks at are overseas sites. There are adservers (online media placement agencies) who offer only New Zealand eyeballs on overseas sites to New Zealand advertisers. Reaching your New Zealand audience by advertising on the Sydney Morning Herald, www.smh.com.au  , or BBC, www.bbc.co.uk  , or the New York Times, www.nytimes.com and aligning your brand with major international sites is a worthwhile media option. NZ Forex  is all over this concept.
So TVNZ is running an online campaign that includes overseas news sites, and local news sites. The local news sites that I can find are scoop.co.nz  , nzherald.co.nz  and yahooxtra.co.nz . Why would they do this? Perhaps they feel that they are missing out on a few news-interested-eyeballs. I mean the TV One television news has fended off stiff competition, and survived internal implosions to maintain their TV news leadership. Obviously they now feel that its time to be the online news leader as well.
I think that they have a new website as well, and it looks good. There is a tension in this site between being a news site and promoting TV programmes. I think this site walks this line nicely. Some usability supplier probably charged TVNZ hundreds of thousands of dollars to research test and recommend a site architecture and layout that meets these two objectives. As cynical as I am about usability consultants the homepage of this site has a lot going on yet it looks clear and uncluttered.
You may remember TVNZ’s nzoom.com. I liked that site, and I liked their strategy. Nzoom for news and lifestyle articles, the all important weather and then the TVNZ.co.nz  site for TV progamming. Anyway it has gone – I’m moving on. I even liked the Nzoom TVCs.
So to reiterate again, TVNZ are advertising their news site on other news websites. Cool. I like it a lot. Where better to get interested news readers than from other news sites. It is a nicely aggressive strategy. I mean we are in a recession so don’t hold back go out and get those people. It wouldn’t be completely unlike advertising TVNZ programmes on TV3 (if they ever would). The difference here is that TVNZ is not the online news leader. And neither is TV3.co.nz , yet in a wonderful asymmetry the homepage of TV3 gets more unique browsers per month than TVNZ.co.nz. The TV3 homepage is almost dedicated to programming, another click takes you to the TV3 news site.
I don’t like these TVNZ’s online ads. Strong branding and the tagline “Your world of news” is not enough to change my online news preferences. Show me or prove to me that tvnz.co.nz  is my world of news. This is what interactive advertising can do – this is what makes it different from a billboard. I would have thought that the nzherald.co.nz or stuff.co.nz was providing me with “my news” in terms of local news, and Scoop fills out the picture. Possibly that message should have been restricted to the overseas websites. The imagery of the world of the online and other broadcast technologies is clichéd. Tell me what the difference is between TVNZ news site and the news site that I’m on, and why I should spend time on the tvnz.co.nz.
There are worthy differences. On tvnz.co.nz I get the news, TVNZ On Demand, and easy to access programme schedules. I was also impressed with the traffic information.
I suspect that TVNZ have changed their online strategy. Several years ago I attended a conference put on by the Internet Bureau the “Broadband Symposium” and TVNZ speaker stated that their online strategy was (and I can’t remember the exact words), but it was something like “If you put up the content, people will find it”. I understood the rationale, yet it’s a passive strategy. I would have thought that the TVNZ sales and marketing team would have wanted to actively attract and online audience and be an online leader.
Online news is a cluttered space, and the content and looks of these sites appear to be merging. Stuff.co.nz doesn’t appear that different from tvnz.co.nz or msn.co.nz or nz.yahoo.com or nzherald.co.nz or www.3news.co.nz.
Space between these sites will be created though content and functionality. Yahoo has the email, MSN has the instant messenger and Scoop has the strong and independent editorial.
TVNZ could take the same media strategy yet focus on what makes them different, not what makes them the same.
Fundraising is generally all emotion and guilt. So it is a relief to see a cerebral angle taken for the Neurological Foundation’s “Brain Week this is fun and a great concept.