The earliest advertising industry publications in Australia were Good Advertising: A Journal for Advertisers (1906) and Reason Why (1908–09), both published in Sydney, and Ad Writer (1909), published in Melbourne. Trade publications such as the Draper of Australasia (1901–66) also featured regular advertising columns, as well as articles from the leading US advertising publication, Printer’s Ink.
It would take some time for more enduring advertising periodicals to emerge in Australia. The Waddy: For Driving Home Club Facts, the official organ of the Ad Men’s Institute of New South Wales, was launched in 1919. Advertising in Australia was established by the Victorian Advertising Club in 1921, and taken over by William Mitchell in 1926. They promoted the benefits of advertising to retailers, distributors and manufacturers, and carried news about advertising agencies and new techniques in copywriting and art direction.
The 1920s were boom years for the Australian print media, and also saw the establishment of radio broadcasting; this growth was paralleled in the advertising industry. In 1925, Sydney printing company Deaton & Spencer launched the monthly Type & Talk: A Journal on Advertising and Selling. It was well supported by advertisements from agencies initially, but lasted less than a year.
Newspaper News, a monthly launched in 1928, was another of the early independent journals. It was founded by David Yaffa (1893– 1947), who had started Yaffa Syndicate in 1925 to provide comic strips, syndicated articles and photographs to publishers, and contained specialist information targeted at the four main sectors of the advertising industry: advertisers (manufacturers and distributors), agencies, the media and services. It helped put buyers in touch with sellers, which in turn generated advertising revenue—particularly from the media, keen to influence where advertisers and agencies placed their advertising.
Within two years, Yaffa had eliminated two potential rivals, reflecting a broader consolidation of the mainstream press. Advertising in Australia was purchased and closed down, with William Mitchell becoming the Victorian correspondent of Newspaper News, and its premises becoming the Melbourne office of Yaffa Syndicate. The Advertisers’ Monthly was purchased and closed down in 1930.
Despite its title, Newspaper News reported on all forms of media, including radio and outdoor advertising (posters, hoardings and billboards). However, the imminent arrival of television saw a real competitor appear in 1950, in the form of the weekly Broadcasting & Television, which soon shortened its name to B&T. Published by Greater Publications and founded by Eric Solomon, B&T also reported on advertisers, agencies and the media. It soon became known as the bible of the radio and television industries, in the same way that Newspaper News was the bible of the publishing industry.
Newspaper Newstried a number of tactics to counteract the threat. In 1957, it became a fortnightly publication and launched a sister title, Radio Television News. With the two publishing on alternate fortnights, it had a weekly presence to match that of B&T. In 1964, Radio Television News was dropped and Advertising in Australia was revived as a supplement to Newspaper News, but lasted only two years. Newspaper News became Advertising & Newspaper News in 1969 and Advertising News in 1971. B&T consolidated its position through this period, while Newspaper News experimented with coverage of fringe areas such as printing and graphic arts.
Both publications benefited from the post-war economic boom. The rise of consumerism, followed by the advent of television in 1956—and especially colour television in 1973—led to large increases in advertising expenditure. Through the 1970s and 1980s, advertising agencies made huge profits and stunning advertisements, with agencies like The Campaign Palace and Mojo achieving worldwide recognition. B&T and Advertising News rode the bandwagon and switched their focus to greater emphasis on agencies. Advertising agencies became shops, creative leaders became gurus and clients became accounts.
Competition between the two publications grew more intense as both joined the Audit Bureau of Circulations and were independently audited. In 1984, Advertising News became AdNews, overtaking B&T in paid circulation in 1990. By 1999 it was almost 50 per cent ahead. B&T then dropped its paid circulation audit, started sending out numerous free copies and switched to a distribution audit through the Circulations Audit Board (CAB), enabling it to claim higher circulation. The battle was won by AdNews after advertisers preferred the value of paid (solicited) circulation versus free (unsolicited) distribution. In 2005, B&T attempted to fight back by reapplying for an Audit Bureau of Circulations audit. Yaffa Publishing successfully challenged the application in the NSW Supreme Court. That success was short-lived, however, with AdNews withdrawing from the ABC in 2010 and, like B&T, converting to a CAB audit.
While the Sydney-based AdNews and B&T continued to fight it out, a third contender emerged from the west. Campaign Brief: Western Australia’s Advertising and Media Magazine started in 1985 as a monthly, launching an Australasian edition in 1987. It focused on the creative rather than the business or media-buying aspects of advertising, and is now published in print six times a year. Meanwhile, B&T continued to reduce frequency, changing to fortnightly in 2008, monthly in 2013, and bi-monthly in 2014.
B&T was the first advertising journal to establish its own website and daily email newsletter, in 2003. AdNews followed in 2004. Campaign Brief took a different approach, establishing only a blog. The online publication Mumbrella (‘everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella’) was launched by Tim Burrowes, formerly group editor at B&T, in 2008, achieving high traffic levels and reader interaction. With advertising revenue as well as eyeballs now shifting steadily from print to online, competition in the field has never been stronger.
REFs: R. Crawford, But Wait, There’s More ... (2008); Yaffa Publishing Group Records (Sydney).