Payday and micro-loan companies have spent an accumulated $90 million on advertising over the past three years.
Advertising spending data from researcher Nielsen shows that the payday and micro-loan sector spent $36m on advertising between August 2018 and July 2019 – up from $30m a year ago and $24m the year before that.
In any sector, such a steady rise in ad spending would be a sign of a healthy, steadily growing business. Indeed, the more money you earn, the more you have to spend on promoting your goods or services.
Given the rapid rise in spending, it's safe to assume that business has been booming for the payday lenders.
However, the good times could be coming to an end, with the Government this week announcing a range of measures that will limit the amount of money payday lenders can charge on their loans. These moves could hit profits and ultimately lead to a reduction in the amount the lending companies can afford to spend on advertising. Except, perhaps, for the more militant capitalists, most people would agree that removing interest rates to the tune of 620 per cent is a good thing.
However, there is a flip side worth taking note of.
Much of this money has gone to traditional channels, with payday loan companies being particularly partial to radio and television advertising, where their ads have become a ubiquitous part of the experience.
Should that advertising revenue start to contract in coming years, it's unlikely to be replaced by anything else, placing further pressure on media companies already facing shrinking advertising revenue elsewhere.
In some ways, there's almost a cruel irony to it, in that the critical stories written and broadcast by media companies might have the inadvertent effect of hurting the media companies' bottom lines.
This again serves as a reminder that it will take much more than just advertising for journalists to keep telling the stories that matter in the future.
The end of the vaping free-for-all
On the topic of Government policy affecting the advertising industry, vaping businesses have recently splurged heavily on marketing campaigns in the lead-up to possible limits on the advertising of vaping products.
Speaking to media this week, Health Minister David Clark said the Government was working on regulations that would result in vaping marketing rules mirroring those of cigarettes.
"My colleague [Associate Health Minister] Jenny Salesa is planning on introducing a bill to parliament in about a month's time, which will have a pretty clear view of what is allowed and what is not," Clark told broadcaster Jack Tame on Q+A.
"It will mirror what happens with tobacco more broadly. They won't be able to market to young people. They won't have colours, they won't have flavours. Those things that appeal to young people, which we know are used in lots of industries, are going to be strictly regulated."
Salesa has also made further comments suggesting that the advertising of vaping products could be prohibited entirely.
Jonathan Devery, director of vaping company Alt New Zealand, isn't taking this lying down. Last weekend he launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign taking direct aim at what he sees as nonsensical restrictions on advertising.
Instead of vaping products or cigarettes, individuals in the campaign are shown holding a range of vegetables.
"What our campaign will highlight is just how ridiculous it is that we can't show people smoking, nor can we make any health claims about vaping despite its effectiveness," Devery says.
He agrees that regulation is necessary, but would prefer to see rules akin to those in the alcohol industry rather than an outright marketing ban.
"The prospect of completely banning all advertising around the most effective tool society currently has to reduce smoking will be completely counterproductive," he says.
The wait is now on to see how far the vaping restrictions go.
I dub thee Tribal
There's a new name on the local advertising scene – despite the fact that the team behind it has been around for a while.
Ad agency DDB has announced the launch of digital advertising agency Tribal, giving a name to the internal digital team that has swelled from six to 50 staff in four years.
The new agency is headed by managing partners Liz Knox, James Blair and Haydn Kerr.
Given the success the team has had under the DDB banner, it's questionable why the company would trade the equity of operating under a recognised banner for an unknown name.
"What we found was that being a part of DDB and the DDB model meant that we had to engage all different parts of the agency to serve clients," Blair told the Herald.
He says the independent banner means the agency will be able to build a team internally and service clients end-to-end, without having to rely on other parts of the business.
Blair says it will also allow for the agency to really specialise on the digital side and offer clients a suite of skills that aren't available in a standard advertising framework.
At a time when the debate between generalists and specialists rages on, Tribal has decided to go hard on the specialist side, with Blair saying the company wants to create digital experiences that reach audiences at an emotional level.
An ugly anniversary
Emotions and digital advertising aren't often great bedfellows. Just consider that October 27 this year will mark the 25th anniversary of the first banner ad to grace the web. If you're looking for someone to blame, the original sin came from respected tech publication Wired.com (then known as HotWired).
At the time of launch, 14 companies bought banner ads, which then had to be downloaded via the painfully slow dialup modems of the past.
As is often the case with digital folklore, the story focused on one of those brands, namely AT&T, whose ad asked "Have you ever clicked you mouse right here? You will."
Click they did, with that ad achieving a 44 per cent click-through rate. These days, click-through rates have become utterly abysmal, with only one in 10,000 or so readers typically clicking on banner ads – most often by accident.
Tribal's creative boss Haydn Kerr says the reason these rates are so terrible today is that most online advertising simply doesn't make you feel anything.
I remember someone once asked me a while ago, 'When was the last time you really felt something on the web?' And I had nothing. But if you were asked the same question about TV ads you'd be able to name 10 or 15 examples.
"We're really at our infancy in this space in terms of understanding this. Has it really moved on that much since we first started going?"
The problem with this is that so much research now shows that advertising needs to have an emotional impact on the viewer to have any impact. Nodding in agreement, Kerr admits a major priority for his team is finding ways to rethink banner ads.
But 25 years on and counting, the wait goes on for a banner ad that sparks a conversation -- other than one about how annoying they are.