Media in Darwin

Every media sales rep in Darwin is going to walk in with a similar strategy. And that is to sell you the features and benefits of their product, and, if pushed, talk down the features and benefits of their competitors. It's what they are trained to do. So we've prepared this report on the local media landscape so you go in ready when they come knocking at your door.

Radio

There are current two very different stories being told in Darwin when it comes to radio. Hot 100 and Mix 1049 have annual ratings (since 2016 at least) that indicate that, between them, they have over 56% of the preferred radio listening audience. When converted to actual numbers of people, you get a picture of "cumulative" listening as being;

Hot 100 - 60,100
Mix 104.9 - 46,100
ABC Darwin - 28,300

Considering that the greater Darwin area has a population around 140,000, these are some impressive figures. But there is one major problem here. Notice the missing radio station? 104.1 Territory FM isn't allowed to participate in the Xtra Insights survey because they are not a "national" or "commercial" radio station. Anecdotally, they are quite widely listened-to. I certainly hear them in a lot of places as I get around town. Yet, that isn't refelected in this survey. Territory FM, however, commissioned their own survey by Roy Morgan in 2016 that states that the station has a "reach" of 51%. There is no explanation of whether this "reach" is 51% of people in the Darwin region or 51% of radio listeners in the Darwin region. However they do claim that it's "around" 70,000 listeners. Which would place it at above the cumulative numbers of all the other radio stations in Darwin.

So what is actually going on? It depends on who you ask. Your Hot 100 and Mix 104.9 sales rep will talk down the Roy Morgan results and talk-up the Xtra Insights ones. And Territory FM will talk-down the Xtra Insights results and talk-up the Roy Morgan ones. Each rep will provide the numbers that they have been given from the research they paid for. Which is only natural. I'm not saying that there is a bias placed on the results, depending on who is paying for the surveys to be conducted, BUT these surveys utterly contradict each other. Either one is lying, or they both are.

Then in another corner are the other communuty radio stations like Radio Larrakia and 97 Seven. They both have different target audiences and programming to reach them as best they can. Radio Larrakia is an Aboriginal-owned radio station with a variety of programs specifically for an Aboriginal audience, mostly. 97 Seven is a Christian community radio station designed to serve a Christian audience, but they will describe themselves as being more aimed towards "famlies." And they don't have and readily-available listening figures to offer. So you are asked to buy in to their "mission" and support the work they do in their respective communities. 

So what are people actually listening to in Darwin? Who bloody knows? It all depends on whose spiel you end up trusting, really.

Regardless of who you go with, ask your rep for a record of when your ad is expected to play and once your campaign ask for your "post times" which are a record of when your ads actually played. It's important for you to use these times to compare with phone enquiries and foot traffic in to your business during the week. If you had more people in your store on a week where you seemed to have a lot of ads playing in the afternoon, then maybe next time, have them schedule more of your ads in the afternoon.

Television

The survey landscape in television is even more vague as there hasn't been a survey done on television viewing in Darwin since before digital television started. So any figures before that time are irrelevant. Plus, with the advent of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and subscription television via Foxtel, it's impossible to know what is watching what here.

We can draw some conclusions from metropolitan and regional surveys conducted elsewhere, but Darwin has a very different demographic mix to those places. There is higher multiculturalism in Darwin than most places in Australia, a higher Indigenous population, a younger average age and  a higher ratio of male to female residents. Which all throws the city results in to a spin.

Nationally, ratings across 2016 showed that SEVEN (known as Southern Cross TV in Darwin) held a 22.8% share of viewing, NINE had 22.7%, TEN had 15.1%, ABC had 14.2% and SBS had 5.7%. Subscription TV (Foxtel) held 18.5%. But these figures didn't include Darwin... and have no accurate reflection in Darwin, where the population is younger, less inclined to watch local news, are not really fans of family favourite shows and tend to jump around from show to show to what ever suits them at the time. In fact, demographically, Darwin lends itself more towards an audience that TEN aims for. However, whether TEN are reaching them or not is a very different story. Because we all know the effect that both subscroption TV and Netflix are having on TV viewing habits.

So basically, it matters little what the ratings were in Sydney and Melbourne, no one in Darwin has any idea how many people are watching anything. Anyone who tries to build a sales spiel around numbers of people watching is basically making it up as they go along. So dismiss numbers. No one in Darwin television has any real numbers with any real meaning.

A television sales rep will attempt to sell you a "package." Each package is deisgned for them to do one act of selling to you, but have you on-air for a period of time... 12 months if they can. The idea here is to create "brand awareness" for your business by being across all dayparts, but you're unlikely to get much time in the evenings. Most of your ads will end up across the day or overnight where there is more available airtime. The exception to this in Darwin would be TEN who appear to have a fair bit of availablity in prime time for "fillers" that are made of of their run-of-station advertisers. So there may be some good value to be gained there. Ask your rep from each station what kind of placements you're getting for your money. How many ads will appear in top level shows? How can you know when you ads have aired... and when the campaign is over, ask them for a record of every place where your ad played so that you can measure what happened in your real business and see any patterns of where you ads might have been playing that same week. If they don't want to provide, push them for it. They all have the ability to give it to you, it's just that they don't all want to show you just how few times your ads got played.

Newspapers

We only have one of significance in Darwin. The NT News. And in the last ten years it has become a place for parochial flag-waving and joke headlines. It's got a strong readership of it's stories online. Circulation sits at 31,000 to 55,000 depending on the day and they claim that they reach 83% of all Territorians (when you include the online readership component.) That claim extends to 136,000 Territorians in print alone. A bold claim considering how many copies of the NT News go un-bought from newsagencies and supermarkets every day. But they have smartly started giving away the newspaper to many hotels and resorts, offices and cafes around town which increases readership by those who may not ever buy a copy. And that's a good move. 

You'll find the print version of the NT News very light on with advertising. Business knows that print is dying and the real value is in the online component. Display ads on the web/app version of the NT News are far more popular and there is no shortage of ads there. But running a newspaper is expensive. So advertising there is expensive too. In fact, advertising in the NT News runs, generally at more expensive than advertising on Channel 10, Territory FM and many packages on Nine, Southern Cross, Hot 100 and Mix 104.9 so it's hard to see where the value is when a newspaper is discarded the same day it's bought and a news story that goes viral from them tends to be popular with out-of-market readers interstate and overseas.

But there are markets that swear by the effectiveness of the NT News. Building, trades, real estate and government still advertise heavily in local press and are often used by reps as success stories of how the NT News was able to help a local business increase sales.

Search

LocalSearch and YellowPages both have sales reps in Darwin. And don't be fooled, despite the collapse in value of printed directories, ads in them are as expensive as ever. You can very easily rack up a $15,000 to $30,000 bill to be in these directories. Some more niche directories like HiPages for trades are a wasted of time because so few people even know they exist in Darwin. The power of the directories is in their ability to get their listings to rank high in Google. And this is where the real value of these listings is. Practically no one is going to the LocalSearch of YellowPages sites to search directly. They are just searching for businesses in Google and getting LocalSearch and YellowPages listings in the first page of results. Essentially, something that many businesses could achieve themselves with a little bit of web-smarts on their own web site. But there is no doubting that directories are still popular. And while their direct value may seem dubious, there is definitely some value in their ability to get you ranking high in Google, even if it's their pages with you on them, rather than your actual business web site.

Beyond this there is Google. There are no local Google reps in Darwin, but there are a range of certified and non-certified resellers of Google AdWords here - including us. It's important to note that Google AdWords is just part of the picture when it comes to performing well on Google - an art known as Search Engine Optimisation. You need a GoogleMyBusiness profile, Google Analytics plugged in to your website and have Google Search Console monitoring and listing your site to really be on the right track. And there are some things you should do with your website to really give yourself a chance. This is where you could use a local SEO or Google person to help out a bit to at least set you up and get you on your way. By getting on top of your Google stuff you may not find that you really need other directories at all.

Social Media

While there is no solid number for social media users in general in Darwin, we do know how many active users there are on Facebook in our region. Facebook's Ad Platform is very open with this as it's part of how you choose who you want to advertise to in their system. And according to them, there are 120,000 active monthly users on Facebook within 80km of Darwin between the age of 13 and 65+. That's a pretty big chunk of the population, which in that range, is around the 150,000 mark. We can tell that of those, 62,000 are men, 58,000 are women and 50,000 of them are in that coveted 25-39 age range that retailers love. That gives us a good idea of what's on Facebook for us. But what about Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and LinkedIn. We have no idea. Which means that, for the small or medium business, they are not good places to advertise because the likely audience locally will be very small. Here's a look at some good estimates of social media use in Australia. So a rough estimate on users in Darwin can be formed as our population is around 0.625% of the population of Australia, so I've included the Darwin estimate in red below and left out those apps and sites that you can't advertise locally on;

Social Media Statistics Australia – October 2017

1. Facebook – 15,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (93,750)
2. YouTube – 15,000,000 UAVs (93,750)
3. Instagram – 9,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users (FB/ Instagram data) (56,250)


6. LinkedIn – 4,200,000 Monthly Active Australian Users approx (26,250)
7. Snapchat – 4,000,000 DAILY Active Australian Users (25,000)
8. Tumblr – 3,800,000 (23,750)
9. Twitter – 3,000,000 Monthly Active Australian Users approx (18,750)
11. TripAdvisor – 2,700,000 (16,875)
13. Yelp – 1,500,000 (9,375)
16. Pinterest – 290,000 (1,813)
17. Reddit – 110,000 (688)

Stats Source: Vivid Social – Social Media Agency.

These figures are rubbery at best. Locals don't use TripAdvisor to look for local business. LinkedIn is likely much much lower here as the corporate culture isn't as pervasive here. Twitter is likely lower as well because of our younger demographic that tends to be less news-oriented and more entertainment-driven. I would say that Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube numbers to be higher than shown above because of the same reason. And this is reflected in the difference between Facebook's ad platform numbers and the estimates shown above. The line I have used between Instagram and LinkedIn is what I call the "Don't Bother Line." Basically, if you want to reach local consumers online, don't bother about any network below the line.

Conclusions

You can't really afford to ignore media, digital or traditional. But when you're a small business you have to put your money to where you will get the best result. My own experience in Darwin has shown that a combination of media works best as long as every message is consistent and supports what is being put out on each media. That combination would be a mix of radio, television, some Google work using both SEO setup and AdWords and ad placement on Facebook using a small weekly budget.

  1. Your radio campaign is about getting immediate foot traffic, so change your ads frequently to advertise different things (as it's cheap to change radio ads)
  2. Your TV campaign is about branding and awareness of who you are, so keep one ad on for a longer time (as TV ads are expensive to make)
  3. Your Google work should concentrate on answering a search question that someone would type in when looking for a business that does what you do
  4. Your Facebook campaign should pique interest in a product or service that someone didn't know that they needed. So video is best, but a clever image and text will often suffice.

For assistance across all media in Darwin whether it's TV, radio, social media, Google, Print or directories, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..