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Living in a Media Bubble: Agency Life in NZ

4 minute read | October 2014

Advertising agencies have their finger on the pulse of hottest fashion trends and latest media technology. But are they in touch with the heartbeat of average New Zealanders? As agency folk, or ‘Adlanders’, are tasked with reaching and appealing to Kiwis to inform, sell to or change behaviours, we looked into the differences between their world and that of their audiences to find out.


Agency folk love their gadgets with 92% owning a smartphone, much higher than the average New Zealander (68%). They are nearly twice as likely to own a tablet (57%) than the general population (31%).

Adlanders are early technology adopters, nowhere is it more obvious than when it comes to Apple TVs or 3DTV. Five times as many agency folk own an Apple TV (21% vs. 4%) and nearly twice as many own a 3DTV (15% vs. 8%) compared to the average person. While Personal Video Recorder (PVR) ownership has now become a game-changer with one in two Kiwis having one in their homes, agency employees lead with more than two out of three being time-shift capable.

The urban media myth says, ’once you own a PVR you never watch ads again’, but we now know that 80% of viewing in a PVR home is live. When we asked Adlanders with a PVR about their ad viewing behaviour when watching playback, 48% said they watched at least half of the ads. This includes 13% loyal rock stars who watched all ads to see what the competition is producing.

The Block NZ was Adlanders favourite local show, followed by 7 Days, My Kitchen Rules and of course ‘Shortie’. However this preference list has little in common with top New Zealand programmes watched by Kiwis in the last year. For the latter, the top three programmes were New Zealand’s Got Talent, One News and Highway Cops.


Online shopping is more popular for Adlanders than the average Kiwi, 97% have made at least one online purchase in the last 12 months compared to just 68% of the population.

They have also proven to be selective of where they go shopping in the offline world. Around one in two Auckland Adlanders have been to Ponsonby and Newmarket malls in the last month, more than triple the average Aucklander aged 18-54. When it comes to visiting Westfields, Adland execs are more likely to have been to St Lukes and Albany compared to the average Aucklander, but a lot less likely to visit West City in Henderson or Manukau. In fact, Auckland Adland employees are five times more likely to have been to Blue Breeze Inn, Chapel, Mexico or Ostro in the last week than to have visited Westfield Manukau in the last month.

Much of this is due to where they live and work, but does highlight the differences in shopping habits compared to the average New Zealander. One in six Auckland agency respondents (16%) live in Grey Lynn, Parnell or Remuera compared to only one in a hundred Aucklanders.


What else do these agency folks do when they are not out eating, drinking or shopping? Their work is demanding. More than four in five (83%) worked late in the last month, while only 55% of full time Kiwi workers have done the same. At the same time 71% have been to a work function which makes us wonder if this is considered work or play!

In spite of work pressures Adland executives fit in more exercise, more travel within New Zealand or overseas, and go to the theatre, concerts or night clubs more frequently than most Kiwis. Their incomes are not spent entirely on rent/mortgages or going out. They have a much higher propensity to be part of Kiwisaver, to own investment property, shares or a holiday home than the average Kiwi.


Technology take-up, lifestyle and media habits of agency people differs to that of the audience that they are required to understand on behalf of advertisers. This illustrates that to truly understand the real world of New Zealand consumers, a quick poll around the agency office isn’t going to cut it.

And finally the tip of all tips – if you really want to get the hairs standing on the back of the neck of those in agencies (or your colleagues), just slip any of the following buzz-words into the conversation; game-changer, ninja/ guru/ rock star, reach out, viral and epic. These were voted the top five most cringe worthy phrases by Adlanders. You may have spotted a few we included!



227 Adland executives participated in the Agency Life in NZ survey between the 25th of June and 6th of July 2014. Most respondents were based in Auckland (165), followed by Wellington (40), Canterbury (8), Waikato (5), Bay of Plenty (4), Northland (3) and Manawatu-Wanganui (1) and Otago (1). When it comes to what they do at work most of them directly liaise with clients (170), are involved in media planning (147) or media buying (143) and make strategic recommendations (145). A lower proportion make strategic decisions (119), work on contract negotiations (110), manage employees (96), supervise employees (82), manage an entire department/division (40), work as chief executive officer / managing director (22), trainees (4) and interns (2). 

Sources for Consumer Information (All People 18-54):

Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights Q2 2014

Nielsen Television Audience Measurement Q2 2014

Nielsen Online Ratings July 2014

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