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Tourism Australia marketer on India: TV is expensive but everyone watches it, we’ve had less success from digital

TA logoThe regional head of Tourism Australia has said that his organisation, which has invested less in brand-building and more in tactical trade activity since he joined a year ago, continues to spend heavily on television in India as “everyone watches it” but efforts to push the brand through digital channels have proved less fruitful.

Michael Newcombe, whose job is to boost tourist visits from Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East as the Singapore-based regional GM, said in an interview with Mumbrella’s Steve Jones that Tourism Australia’s marketing activity in India this year has involved a “fair chunk of TV advertising,” which he said was expensive, “but it gives you immediacy to the consumer and cut through because everyone watches TV.”

On Tourism Australia’s digital marketing efforts in India, Newcombe said that while they are “progressively growing our digital spend” in the region, “variable” internet penetration in India has meant that “we are not seeing as much success in our digital campaigns as we see through our traditional mechanisms.”

“That will change over time,” he said.

Michael Newcombe

Michael Newcombe

“Eventually the market will mature. You want people having high propensity to travel, high credit card penetration, confidence about internet security, but we are well away from having that type of environment. It’s inevitable but we are a fair way away from that.”

Newcombe said when he joined TA, the advertiser was very brand orientated and “doing generic brand adverts”, but awareness of Australia was already high and brand advertising had “done its job,” he said, hence his decision to take a more tactical approach through the trade. Partner contributions have grown by over 300 per cent over the last year, according to Newcombe.

“That’s not a bad thing because when you are investing in, and looking to build a market, establishing your brand is really important. But brand awareness and recall were already really high. We were sitting in the high 90s in terms of intent and aspiration to travel so the brand building had done its job.”

Tourism Australia advertised prominently around the Cricket World Cup on national TV networks, uses the national press and has tried branded content, hosting a Bangalore TV drama in which a wedding and a honeymoon are filmed.

Newcombe said that Tourism Australia has been able to stretch its budget, which for Asia is $13 million, through partnerships.

The Singapore Tourism Board has taken the same approach, with partnerships a key thrust of a new $20m marketing offensive announced in May.

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