But there isn’t any choice, says Jack Matthews, Chief Executive Officer for Australia-based Fairfax’s Metro Media, the keynote speaker at Publish Asia. Not because of audience decline – it has actually increased – but because the revenue model has changed.
Print audience is declining, but, thanks to digital media, the overall audience grew 30 per cent over the past five years, he said.
“We don’t have a content problem. More people consume our content today than ever have in the past,” he said. “What we have is a business model problem.”
Like a lot of media companies, Fairfax faces the “print dollars, digital cents” conundrum – the revenues that come from digital advertising and audiences is not replacing those lost to print.
Mr Matthews believes Fairfax has come up with a solution: maintain quality journalism as the “secret sauce” as the core of the business, but change the way of looking at the audience.
He believes that only by changing the traditional metric based on circulation to one based on overall audience can newspaper companies succeed – “not talking about platforms but talking about eyeballs.” He said the goal is to “sell targeted eyeballs across all platforms in a highly engaged atmosphere”.
“That won’t only protect your yield, it will grow your yield,” he said.
“The core principle we have moving forward is that we’re no longer thinking about business in terms of geography and platforms but about audience and content,” he said, and his presentation focused on some of the ways it was going about it.
Here is one of them:
Fairfax’s advertising sales team is integrated and platform agnostic, but most media agencies aren’t built that way. “The difficulty is presenting an integrated sales strategy to a fragmented agency,” Mr Matthews said.
Fairfax solved this by presenting single-price packages, not broken down by component media. “In today’s complex world, simplicity has never been more of a virtue than it is today,” said Mr Matthews.