November 24, 2013 | Graham

Good government and good weather sponsored by good guys

It has to be only a matter of time before the ABC is offering advertising on its website and programs as the federal government opens up government websites to commercial advertising.

In the course of checking the weather to see how long the latest Brisbane thunder storm might last I went to the Bureau of Meteorology Weather Radar site to see, for the first time that I can recall, a commercial advert.

This was for gifts under $200 available from The Good Guys. Refreshing the page revealed other government departments, and Tiger Air, as well as the bureau itself, to also be advertisers on the BOM site.

I was impressed with the speed with which the Abbott government had rushed to find fresh sources of finance to pay back the debt, until I checked Promotional and advertising material on agency websites – Web Guide.

Turns out it was the previous government that decided to implement a 12 month trial, starting in July this year, and only on the BOM site, because of the high traffic that it attracts.

I’m not sure how I missed the advertising before, or perhaps they have only just implemented the policy.

As their advertising doesn’t seem to involve conventional ad serving software, it’s possible it took them 4 months to sort themselves out.

If the trial succeeds this has got to put pressure on the ABC to take advertising. While they wouldn’t make much compared to their overall budget, it would still be a significant amount.

But only if they can get proper take-up from advertisers.

The way they have gone about it suggests that there could be an element of institutional sabotage.

Having mostly internal government ads with occasional commercial ads says either commercial advertisers aren’t that interested, or BOM doesn’t have anyone doing effective advertising sales.

But it is easy to sell ads on any website by signing-up for Google adsense. My recent experience suggests this will return more money, more easily, than retaining your own advertising sales team, or ad agency.

So why aren’t they displaying Google ads?

There’s no reason I can see that government sites shouldn’t be able to run advertising, but it sends a cold shiver down my spine. Unlike the offline world, there is no end of inventory for ads online. That makes the free-to-air publishing model difficult, and probably impossible, to follow with a news, or any other, website.

And imagine if you could advertise on the ABC website – where would that leave Fairfax et al?

Posted by Graham at 2:40 pm | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. It makes me wonder how effective some on-line advertising really is. Due to the storms in QLD I have had the BOM radar on screen many times in the last week. I hadn’t noticed the ads. Checked again this morning after reading your piece. Yes the ad was there.
    Maybe it says something about my observation, but I was on the site to check the radar not shop.

    Comment by sparkx — November 25, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  2. Some areas have been doing it for ages.

    The News for Seniors publication from the Dept. of Human Services has had a lot of advertising, for quite a while. It certainly makes sense to me to pay for something useful with advertising, rather than taxpayers funds.

    In the ABC’s case it is also probably worthwhile paying for something useless the same way.

    Comment by Hasbeen — November 25, 2013 @ 9:25 am

  3. The best form of advertising is that, that is not immediately obvious!
    But nonetheless simply bypasses the conscious discerning mind, and simply puts its message directly into the subconscious!

    If ABC news presenters, took several swigs/nibbles from a labeled refreshing drink/ packages, Iced tea, coffee, mint julep health food etc, between turns at speaking their piece, without once commenting; but just allow the labels to speak for themselves? They could earn enough revenue, to pay for the service!

    Similarly, when it comes to programs/drama and comedy, various products could been seen and be seen to be being repeatedly used, which would impact far more effectively, than current conventional advertising.
    And still protect the ABC from having to emulate the commercial channels, who simply don’t discern and seem to spend so much time earning income, that it would be a shame to interrupt their commercial obligations, with a little bit of program.
    Moreover, nothing is less effective than the hard sell, and shouted evocations to buy now because of limited supplies!?

    Other than that, is absolute genuine never to be repeated bargains for a limited time, works well.
    I knew a green grocer, who sold bread and honey, well below his buy in price. When asked how long this would last, he simply didn’t know!
    That was all he needed, along with the most effective advertising of all, word of mouth, to quite massively increase the foot traffic through his small business.
    And that foot traffic along with as old as time impulse buying, quite massively increased his volume of business. Which is far more reliable, than margins, which just send your customer base heading for the opposition!

    Other than that, never ever advertising products one couldn’t personally endorse, given one hadn’t used and quality tested them, and were then able to honestly attest to the robust quality, and or value for money, seems to work as well as the inherent honesty of the endorser. And very clever programers, could produce half hour program, after the tin-lids had headed of to school, for a panel to compare various products and services, but only if the intending advertisers, were comfortable with a warts and all, cruelly, brutally honest, value for money comparisons with other similar products. Which could then simply masquerade as a public service? Under the heading. Consumer choice quarters.

    That’s why Lawsy, and others of a similar ilk, were so successful?
    Advertising on Aunty?
    Well yes, but not so blatant, that anyone would actually notice that it was being done!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan Goulding — November 25, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  4. I’m not sure how long it has been up Sparkx – I suspect not that long. But I’d agree that the advertising isn’t that effective. Which means the trial will probably fail, for lack of interest.

    Wasn’t aware of the News for Seniors advertising Hasbeen. I wonder how much advertising is actually going on?

    Comment by Graham — November 25, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

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