NSW puts advertising and digital services out to pitch

By Julian Bajkowski

The New South Wales Government has put the creative and digital services contracts of its $92 million-a-year advertising and public awareness scheme out to pitch, trimming around $24 million in traditional ad-spend in favour of ramping up digital communications to stakeholders.

Macquarie Street now estimates that it will spend between $5 million and $10 million-a-year on creative and digital services with agencies through an overarching scheme run out of the Strategic Communications branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

“Rather than a broad-based scheme that includes all streams of known communications and advertising activity, the Scheme will encompass the activities common across Customers that represent the majority of government’s marketing services spend,” procurement documents released by the government said.

“Whilst availability of traditional advertising agency creative services are still critical to some customers, the delivery of government information through new and cost efficient digital channels is increasing in importance and thus Government requires access to expertise in this area.”

According to the government, the call for creative services under the scheme does not yet include media buying.

“The NSW Government Media Agency Services agreement is currently being prepared for renewal. The media agencies contracted under that agreement will plan and buy media for all advertising activities and therefore media planning and buying services are excluded from this Scheme,” the documents said.

The move essentially centralise buying and run digital marketing services procurement out of Premier and Cabinet signals a strong shift towards creating a more holistic and coordinated online presence for the state’s public sector after a decade of often ad-hoc initiatives and occasional collisions with the technology sector.

Governments across Australia are increasingly looking to steer the public towards using online channels as a way of improving and speeding-up service delivery while reducing more expensive face-to-face interactions where the public are required to stand in queues.

A key area of interest for New South Wales has been harnessing the reach and feedback potential of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to get messages to the public that range from revealing the top baby names officially registered in a given year to the premier apologising for underperforming train services.

However the tight levels of administrative control exercised over how public agencies can communicate in the public domain have sometimes made for an uncomfortable fit with the increased consumer demand for real-time information.

To this end it now appears that the NSW Government could be preparing to increasingly outsource digital communications to marketing and communications agencies.

“Digital services may include development and implementation of holistic digital strategies, building websites, and the utilisation of emergent new media channels. These services are in some cases supplied through creative agencies but also through specialist service providers,” the procurement documents said.

The advertising and marketing shake-up presents yet another challenge to traditional newspaper publishers and free-to-air broadcasters which increasingly have to contend with the evaporation of government jobs and public notice advertising.

The cut-off date for tenders to be submitted to the new scheme is 28th April 2013 at 11:45pm.

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