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Auckland Council reduces marketing budget

Published: 29 October 2020

Auckland Council has reduced its marketing budget by $1 million this financial year, but it remains vital to reach Aucklanders where they are.

Communicating with the public is a major part of any council’s activities. Sometimes it’s required by law or needed to support people through crisis. At other times it’s to help people experience our services and keep them informed about what’s happening in the region.

Auckland has large and diverse communities who access information through different sources. The council works hard to provide up-to-date news and information directly to Aucklanders in ways they prefer to access it.

We’re committed to doing this in the most cost-effective and efficient way by being digital-led and using a variety of tools - some we don’t pay for, like news stories, and others we do, like advertising and promotional material.

Every year, the Auckland Council group promotes the huge range of its services, activities and events.  We let people know about what’s happening in their local area, and help people to understand the issues facing Auckland, explain how council’s decisions might impact them, and make sure all Aucklanders can be involved in shaping the future of their city.

So far this year the council group has reached out extensively to help Aucklanders through the COVID-19 crisis and consulted with Aucklanders about what they wanted from our Emergency Budget.

We know a lot about Aucklanders and how they access news and information, which means we can target our messages to people through cost-effective channels and reach them with the things we know matter to them.

Digital and social media

Currently, Auckland Council spends around 40 per cent of its total media spend on digital, of which half of that is spent on social media platforms like Facebook.

The council evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of each platform on its merits. Digital advertising is cost-effective, provides extensive coverage and is accessible to many Aucklanders, which means we can engage directly with them. 

During COVID-19 restrictions, digital media has made it possible for us to update Aucklanders quickly and regularly about the status of our services and facilities, and to provide essential emergency management information.

In the 12 months to May 2020, there have been more than 1000 Facebook ads or ‘boosted’ posts from Auckland Council to communicate to Aucklanders on a wide range of topics, including Auckland Emergency Management, the 2019 local body elections, activities of our 21 local boards, libraries, pools and leisure centres, a variety of festivals and events such as Movies and Music in Parks, and public consultations, including the Annual Budget.

Facebook’s mass appeal and wide reach makes it popular with central government and many other public sector organisations. Between June 2019 and May 2020 the Auckland Council group, which includes the council as well as its five CCOs, spent around $1 million on the platform.

Going forward, we anticipate Facebook will continue to remain a key channel for the organisation and our spend will remain around current levels as we seek to do more with less this financial year.

Group media procurement

Cost-effectiveness is also the main driver for other improvements that will drive further efficiencies this year. 

Currently, three media agencies work across Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.  

Work has now begun to reduce this to a single media agency to work across these organisations.

By working together, the council group can create economies of scale that are not possible by working independently. By having one media contract, this group can drive lower costs and have a single view of media buying across all its activity.

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