Fairfax fights against negative numbers, tries to shift focus to targeting abilities

  • Media
  • December 9, 2014
  • Ben Fahy
Fairfax fights against negative numbers, tries to shift focus to targeting abilities

After a host of senior management changes and a fair bit of hunkering down on the marketing front, Fairfax seems to have got its ducks in a row and regained some confidence and is once again promoting its products and capabilities. And its latest effort is a new trade campaign that aims to switch the focus from volume metrics to its ability to target different groups across its print and online assets. 

In an era where the circulation and readership numbers for most newspapers have been steadily—and in some cases, rapidly—decreasing, many publishers have found it tough to fight against the general perception of declines in print—or, as Clay Shirky's confrontational take has it, eventual death. But comms manager Emma Carter says the campaign "is the first step in changing the conversation from traditional readership/circulation metrics to targeting behaviour and interest-based audience groups through the multiple channels we have available".

When asked if Fairfax, after a period of ‘reflection’, is back in the game and starting to tell its stories again, Fairfax marketing director Campbell Mitchell says: "I think it's another demonstration of the fresh momentum coming from the 'new' Fairfax marketing team, formed back in May. It's a great campaign, and there'll be more to come in the New Year." 

As it says on the 'Reach Them' campaign microsite: "At Fairfax Media we engage with people across many different channels. Millions of unique individuals who lead rich, diverse, interesting lives. Honey producers, home renovators, gardeners, sports fans." 

Old habits around hard numbers die hard, however, so it also points to Nielsen figures that show it reaches "eight out of ten New Zealanders each month". 

The campaign highlights four key audience groups that Fairfax delivers to advertisers. And traffic is being driven to the microsite through a DM piece to agency contacts replete with cricket balls and pot plants and through animated display ads on StopPress (interestingly, Bauer Australia is also focusing on four key areas—food, homes, health and family—as part of its new vertical digital strategy and that approach is also set to be implemented in New Zealand). 

Fairfax worked with Shine and Affinity (website build). 

Fairfax launched its Fairfax World campaign in early November with an animation that showed how advertisers can reach its audiences. 

"We have a unique portfolio of media assets that reach eight of every ten New Zealanders, including New Zealand's largest news site, stuff.co.nz," said Mitchell in a release. "Our differentiator is our ability to target specific audiences through a number of channels, so our clients and advertisers can reach and engage with Kiwis in new, compelling and targeted ways through the day." 

It pointed to global research from WARC that highlighted the connection between campaigns using multiple channels and their effectiveness because they "offer advertisers deeper interaction with customers and provide consumer connection through content, interest and passions".  

"We know the media landscape has changed, and the relentless focus on volume metrics—readership and circulation—provides an overly simplistic measure of today’s campaign performance," Mitchell says. "The evaluation model should be based on engagement with customers delivered through a range of channels, and effectiveness ... the result. It’s not just about a reach number – but that the audience is passionate, engaged and motivated to act. Our multi-channel media business provides a quality total audience offering for our advertisers across our products, ensuring they get their message to the right people at the right time – delivering hard results."

Fairfax also launched a campaign recently based on recent research from Colmar Brunton that promoted stuff.co.nz's popularity as a video platform and the effectiveness of pre-roll advertising in an era of rampant time-shifting. 

Fairfax also launched an above-the-line campaign for Stuff earlier this year via Shine that showed it had the full-spectrum of content (and it also ran a nice experiential campaign as part of its sponsorship of Art in the Dark).

Stuff recently overtook Yahoo in terms of visitor numbers and it will be hoping to improve those numbers even further when it eventually migrates onto smh.com.au's platform, something that is thought to be happening in the near future. 

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