SYDNEY: Media-buying network GroupM is to expand its Australian operations by hiring dedicated television producers to boost advertising content in TV programmes.

The group, which includes Mediaedge:cia and MindShare, is part of WPP Group's empire and the biggest buyer of Oz airtime.

It plans to become a major investor in original TV programming and digital content via its local and global buying power, using this to negotiate distribution rights and leverage greater integration of client brands into local and international TV formats.

In Australia it will focus initially on sponsorships such as Hyundai's involvement in a new Seven Network primetime show and Huggies' funding of a new daytime format.

GroupM national trading director James Parkinson says the strategy of employing its own producers is intended to improve the flow of information between advertisers, TV networks and production companies.

He also outlined the business's move into the financial backing of programmes: "If you think about all the technology changes that are happening around us, a piece of content is going to have a longer life span than ever before."

Added Parkinson: "If we only buy advertising in the middle of that content, we're probably missing an opportunity on a global scale."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff