Member Q&A Series: Spotlight on the Brisbane market

On November 11, 2021 Research & Resources

The IAB Australia Q&A is taking a look at a market rather than a topic this fortnight and putting a spotlight on all the great work being driven out of Brisbane. We will dive deeper into the thriving QLD state and understand the key players, market nuances and opportunities that exist for those who are currently operating in the Brisbane market, those looking to dive in and those who just aren’t sure!

Thank you to those who contributed from MiQ Digital, OMD, SCA and Dentsu


Jason Scott, CEO, MiQ Digital

Tell us a little more about the Brisbane market and the key opportunities for businesses and/or employees?

Queensland has enjoyed consistent population growth over the last decade which has been fuelled by interstate and overseas (pre-covid) migration and a healthy fertility rate. It's our third largest state with an estimated population of 5.2 million people, and Brisbane accounts for half of those.

With a solid economy dominated by mining, agriculture, tourism and financial services, Brisbane has gone through a stellar makeover in the last 5 years. A swathe of waterfront investments, excellent restaurants and swanky hotels underpin vibrant and bustling areas like Howard Smith Wharves precinct, the revamped Valley and South Bank to name a few.

Looking ahead, things in Brisbane should continue to grow. With borders reopening we're sure to see a huge economic rebound from Tourism and Education, the two most powerful sectors in Queensland - and welcome news to two of the country's largest Travel advertisers, Flight Centre and Virgin Australia, both headquartered in Brisbane. And let's not forget the Olympics coming to the Sunshine state with the related economic development. Suffice to say, we are long on Brisbane and its growth opportunities. And why wouldn't you be?

Brisbane boasts representation of all holding groups, a bustling scene of independents like Alpha and Scout who are winning major business, and a few of Australia's largest in-house performance teams, including Tabcorp (Tatts Lotteries), Auto & General and Entertainment. There has been a recent migration of advertisers moving their agency relationships to the Sunshine State, including Shine Lawyers and Virgin Money.

The SEQ commuter corridor of Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast had been a tried and true case study of the efficacies of hybrid working arrangements, pre-Covid, that attracted and retained talent through the promotion of work-life balance and provided a blueprint for the past eighteen months. We expect talent will keep moving into this enticing city with its relaxed lifestyle and relatively affordable living as hybrid work models expand.

Let’s highlight some strong work out of Brisbane, do you have an example of a recent campaign? What made it so successful?

Brisbane has always had great work coming out of the market in the form of creative and media underpinned by strong strategic thinking. It's always had a strong local and national client base and matching agency clout. What we have seen with the evolution of data and the rise of programmatic is the real appetite in Brisbane to get involved, push the limits and embrace innovation and the related opportunities.

As an example of this is our recent work with National Storage, Australasia’s largest self-storage provider. They approached MiQ to work together on extending the value of its sponsorships and capitalize on increased awareness within sporting communities.

MiQ used one to one remarketing to households exposed to a National Storage sports sponsorship, using creative tailored to the sports team that a household followed. To do this we combined our partner Samba TV’s largest Smart TV dataset in Australia with its TV viewership activation capabilities to segment programs that included National Storage sports sponsorships. This resulted in a programmatic video campaign with in-stream video and BVOD formats and using cross-device matching technology, to extend targeting to other devices in each household.

This type of ground-breaking work requires clients that are open and committed to pushing boundaries to generate superior outcomes. There was no case study to lean back on here as it hadn't been done previously! And the results were brilliant.

Users who were exposed to a National Storage brand ad and the sponsorship during this campaign were 9 times more likely to book storage on-site when compared to general National Storage website visitors. Cost per lead of audiences exposed to this activity was reduced by 67% over the duration of the campaign.

Just one example of excellent cutting edge work coming out of the Brisbane market.


Alison Costello, Head of Digital, OMD

Tell us a little more about the Brisbane market and the key opportunities for businesses and/or employees? 

The Brisbane market is buoyant despite the challenges of the last two years. The way in which Queensland has weathered the pandemic has fostered relative stability and assurance for Brisbane based businesses compared to other major cities. There has certainly been increased opportunity for Brisbane agencies to capitalise on what is a traditionally strong retail client sector in Queensland.

Beyond retail, the travel and tourism sectors are set to reap the significant benefits of borders reopening. Travel and tourism can also look forward to being bolstered by the 2032 Olympics announcement. Brisbane's trajectory is actually unrivalled!

Reflective of this growth in opportunity and sentiment, is the trend of talent, both agency and marketing, moving to Brisbane attracted by not only the appeal of a more balanced lifestyle, but also by purposeful & rewarding career opportunities. In turn, reversing a consistent net migration industry trend of 3+ years ago. The market is now being rewarded for the strength it has long fostered around community. This includes industry wide initiatives such as the vibrant Brisbane Advertising Association, or BAA as known by the locals, which was founded in 1989 with a clear purpose to connect those working in the local industry, whilst also giving back to the community.  This year, we welcomed UnLtd to the market with open arms, an industry wide social purpose organisation further supporting our desire to build meaningful media and marketing communities for a greater cause.

Along with talent, the market is gradually correcting a wave of Brisbane based businesses who over the past decade have chosen to align with Sydney or Melbourne based agency teams and remove their coveted media investment from the local market. We’ve been fortunate this past year or so in attracting a number of brands with southern market servicing models back into Brisbane - a clear demonstration of the strength and capabilities of our people to deliver business outcomes sought by clients nationally.

What makes the Brisbane market unique in the media and marketing landscape?

We believe the Brisbane market has the ability to deliver exceptional work for our local, national and international clients. That’s Brisbane several agencies deliver media strategy, planning and investment services for brands that need to reach customers not only within Australia, but across the Tasman and even beyond, a true testament to the capability that exists.

Brands working with Brisbane based agencies and consequently Brisbane based media partners, extract greater value from their relative scale of investment due to it being a smaller, hungrier and, in turn, more responsive media market for clients who aren’t top ten national spenders. This has been proven time and time again in a commitment to deliver a superior value exchange when operating and optimising from Brisbane.

We offer greater agility as we mobilise our talent pools to galvanise around client challenges to transcend traditional agency hierarchy and siloed structures.  When media careers are fostered in Brisbane, their exposure to the full gamut of capability, training, development and opportunity cements a growth mindset that can propel talent wherever they want to be in the future. Brisbane is poised for greater and future success, it is certainly a place where the best people, best teams and best work can reside regardless of geography.


Hamish Rose, Head of Brisbane Sales and Boomtown Radio Strategy, SCA

We are seeing severe shortages in marketing talent across the country, is Brisbane feeling the same squeeze?

Brisbane has been incredibly lucky over the past 18 months. In comparison to our neighbours, we’ve been far less impacted by the COVID pandemic. This allowed us to operate in BAU mode, and we’ve also seen an influx of talented industry personnel relocate to Brisbane.

Despite this, Brisbane is not immune to the national talent shortage. The spike in remote working has levelled the playing field with more businesses supporting remote working set-ups. As a result, we are seeing a lot of Queensland-based employees working for offices in other states. In most cases, Brisbane represents a lower cost of living and competitive income, less than an hour from world-class beaches – hard to refuse.

That said, the small size of the local industry can amplify the talent shortage and create a competitive advantage for those who can provide a high-value counteroffer. It’s not uncommon to have a high performer poached by a competitor. Fortunately for us at SCA, our challenge has been finding good talent rather than retaining them. We have a strong, loyal team. However, our rapid growth in digital audio has required more resources than ever and we have experienced the shortage firsthand.

We are fortunate in Brisbane to boast a strong industry experience base, but that’s not about luck. The social aspect of our industry is very important and a critical factor in job satisfaction among team members.

Our work can be challenging, and at times data-heavy and monotonous. Social activities have long been an industry perk but are less prevalent in the current climate.

It is important for employers to remember that this is such a big part of how we build trust and relationships with our staff. It is also a positive way to offset the long hours and effort synonymous with our industry.

What makes the Brisbane market unique in the media and marketing landscape?

Brisbane is a warm and richly textured city, offering the urban pleasures you’d expect from the southern metros. But one thing Brisbane delivers, better than any other city in Australia, is a high quality working environment in the media and marketing industry.

You see, Brisbane is just the right size. Large enough to host an array of national and global brand HQs, but intimate enough to be able to nurture mutually beneficial relationships at all levels. However, do the wrong thing by a client in Brisbane and you won’t get a second chance. Immense value is placed on honesty and trust – practice these values and you’ll benefit from strong market knowledge, nimble trading, and outstanding client results.

The secret to Brisbane’s industry success, lies within its connected community. In 1989, the Brisbane Advertising Association (BAA) was founded by a group of industry identities with a shared goal; to provide unique networking and connection opportunities while giving back to the community. If you haven’t experienced the iconic ‘BAA Xmas Lunch’, I suggest you get to the 3 December event.  

Most publishers in Brisbane have mirrored the structure of their southern counterparts, resulting in access to high level publisher data and client insights. Brisbane-based agencies have taken advantage of this by moving the strategy, planning and media trading of smaller volume clients to Brisbane to enhance service delivery and outcomes.

The most tangible difference we notice here is the opportunity for advertisers that exists in our backyard, regional Queensland. Due to Queensland’s geographical spread, the population is close to evenly split throughout the state, between metro and regional areas. There is a wealth of audiences living uncluttered throughout regional Queensland, high disposable income and lower living expenses and we have the means to deliver our client’s message directly to them.


Chris Ernst , Managing Director, Dentsu QLD

Over the last two years, have there been positive or negative changes about how Brisbane offices and business operate with their Sydney and Melbourne counterparts?

Having worked in Sydney, Melbourne and London Markets, I have experienced first-hand how Brisbane has been unfairly regarded as a bit player that looked after it’s own backyard. Those days are officially over. Brisbane plays a critical role in national operations and is being given the respect it deserves from interstate counterparts.

In many ways Queensland businesses have had the opportunity to lead and innovate and act as a testing ground for our national businesses and this has evolved at pace in the past two years.

A great example of this is the work we’re doing at Dentsu Qld. We have been empowered to lead, and in some cases pilot, strategies to simplify our employee and go to market propositions in line with our global strategy, given our size, breadth of capability and client base. The learnings have been taken by our national teams and scaled where relevant which is an inspiring thing to be part of for our team on the ground here in Brisbane.

We’ve also seen the incredible talent we have in this market become leading practitioners on a national scale. The pandemic created opportunities in this regard. At Dentsu our approach to open teaming has not only enabled us to integrate capability, but has also provided opportunities for people to work from Queensland on some of the country's largest clients. And in return, some of the large clients have specifically sought out the Brisbane market.

Tell us a little more about the Brisbane market and the key opportunities for businesses and/or employees?

As a Brisbane boy born and bred I am certainly biased, but I truly believe that Brisbane is the most exciting market in our country right now, and will be for a decade to come.

From the investment in our infrastructure to the entrepreneurial mentality of businesses large and small, and more recently the announcement of the 2032 Olympics, we’re truly entering a golden age for QLD.

The past few years have demonstrated that dynamism, intelligence, and entrepreneurial flair run deep north of the border. In that time, we’ve seen incredible growth stories from the likes of MyPayNow, Go1, and TripADeal (yes we’ll claim them even though they’re just south of the border) who’ve not only launched and rapidly grown their businesses from QLD but have disrupted and challenged their categories on a national scale while they do it.

Looking a little deeper you’ll also find some of the country’s largest advertisers across retail, travel, finance, and more, who’ve shown incredible resilience and agility in the changing landscape of the pandemic and are delivering brilliant work across the country for their brands, via partnerships with local providers across Creative, Media, Strategy and more. The recent rebrand of CUA to Great Southern Bank being a great example.

In terms of the agency landscape, I’m incredibly proud of the work that comes out of our city. The representation of major agency groups who house incredible talent is complemented by some of the countries smartest independent operators, all of whom operate with the decency and collective camaraderie that you expect out of a city of our size.

The result is a market that provides a welcoming environment for businesses looking to scale, an intelligent workforce for those already there looking to find the best talent to support their endeavours, and an incredible learning and development opportunity for talented individuals looking for their next opportunity.

Judging by the house prices the secret is out though, so if you’re thinking of moving north I’d not ponder too long.