Fairfax Media – Trading Up???

As an unintended postscript to last week’s comment on the FT, which referenced the Australian Financial Review, Fairfax Media is reported to be selling its stake in the New Zealand on-line auction site, Trade Me. While this will dilute Fairfax’s digital revenues, it will strengthen the balance sheet by reducing debt. According to some analysts, the Trade Me growth rate had started to decline, so Fairfax is probably selling at the peak.

Fairfax is also said to be appointing a couple of senior consultants to help develop a digital growth plan, as part of the overall strategy to address declining advertising sales.

Some data that will no doubt form part of this strategic review are the sprawling list of Fairfax assets, and the latest Fairfax Metro Media Audience Report (references below).

First, there is an opportunity to rationalize and consolidate the portfolio of assets, to yield better value from Fairfax news content and other IP, either by smarter integration and aggregation by market demographic, or improved functionality and customization by distribution channel.

Second, the Metro Media Audience Report confirms the decline in the year-on-year print audience, and reveals that visitors spend less time on the websites, with a significant drop in views for monthly video streams. At the same time, there has been an exponential growth in app downloads, mobile page views and unique readers, but probably not at a rate to offset falling print circulation or attract new advertisers.

It is highly likely that building on the initial success of its tablet apps, Fairfax will look to enhance and monetize the app offerings via localization, customization and better content curation to engage readers, especially its younger audience and the emerging “prosumer” demographic of tech-savvy users.

REFERENCES:

Fairfax publishing, app and on-line assets (as at July 2012):

http://fairfaxmedia.com.au/our-assets/PublicationsListfor2011.pdf

Fairfax Metro Media Audience Report (as at October 2012):

http://fairfaxmedia.com.au/shareholders/301112_FMMAROct.pdf

2 thoughts on “Fairfax Media – Trading Up???

  1. Interesting article. I’ve read some commentators almost writing off the old school publishers with the demise of The Daily. They argue that it is not within the DNA of the old school to write relevant content that clients will pay for. I’m not sure I agree but it will require a real focus on figuring out what the reader wants, shaking off the legacy associated with the old brand, and delivering real content in context. Zite reader, Prizmatic and News360 do a good job of this so far. The other area that I see needs a lot of work, is the signup and payment process that is very clunky at present for even signing up to the trial. Apple do this so well, but it is not hard to improve this for even small businesses with the tools available today. I still can’t believe how many magazines still think a scanned PDF of the print version will get the reader excited. Lots of opportunity for growth here but let’s hope they have the focus now to do what is necessary to take the journey at the pace needed.

    • Thanks, Michael. Totally agree about the need to create and deliver “real content in context”! I am assuming that part of the strategy will include some acquisitions or 3rd party licensing – data, content, technology, payment systems, subscription engine….

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