Fairfax acquires 50 percent stake in Pricemaker, looks to capitalise on growing online audience

Fairfax has acquired a 50 percent stake in e-commerce start-up Pricemaker in an effort to tap into the revenue potential of its growing digital audience. 

In a sense, Pricemaker reverses the usual consumer-seller roles by allowing shoppers to advertise intended purchases to business owners connected to the interface. Business owners can then offer personalised deals to the potential clients, who are free to choose the offer that best suits their needs or budget.

Robert Hutchinson, Fairfax Media’s product development director says that Pricemaker fosters direct connections between businesses and their customers.

“We see Pricemaker as a real innovation for our retail advertisers, he says. “It’s a mobile platform that gets customers through their doors. The Pricemaker promise is about making shopping around easy. For businesses it’s a lead generator that lets sales people make their most compelling offer to a fully qualified customer,” he says. 

Hutchinson says that the fact the application benefits both businesses and consumers makes it a “win-win for everyone involved.” 

“It’s Kiwi ingenuity at its best and  reinforces our belief that we can help make great ideas succeed by using our resources, networks and market share to reach New Zealanders,” says Hutchinson.

Pricemaker chief executive Erin Walshe says that that the initial goal will be to add as many businesses as possible to the network in order to make the offering functional.    

He says that once a solid number of businesses are on board and shoppers are receiving offers, Fairfax will spread the word about the service via its media portfolio.

This move marks a change in direction for Fairfax and it shows that the conglomerate is increasingly looking at potential revenue streams that can used in addition to conventional advertising.

Hutchinson recently also worked on an extensive content marketing project with ASB, which saw posts sponsored by the bank integrated onto the Stuff website.

“Essentially, we went into a partnership with ASB,” he says. “They sponsor our Home & Property section on Stuff and then commission our team to write content, which then becomes labelled as sponsored and is interspersed throughout the page.”

He says that making the branded content part of the overall page gives the marketing a seamlessness that is less like to be ignored by the reader.

And while Hutchinson is a strong supporter of less conventional revenue resources such as Pricemaker or content marketing, he does not believe that they will replace conventional advertising completely.

“Display ads will continue to play a role in reinforcing the brand identity. If you have a sponsored post and back it up with banner, you have a more complete advertising offering … [but]the more natural the content feels, the better,” he says.   

Fairfax was asked how much this acquisition of Pricemaker cost, but StopPress is yet to receive a response in this regard.

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