APN NZ’s Todd McLeay on facing up to challenges and changing for the better

There is no question the media landscape is
changing and the pace of technological advancements means that change is
happening more rapidly than ever. This
is changing the way people live their lives and the way that they consume
media. At APN we spend a lot of time listening to
consumers and understanding the affect these changes have on their
relationships with our news and entertainment brands. There is no denying that
more and more people are reading, watching and listening to our content across
print, digital and mobile platforms. But rather than seeing that as a
negative trend, we believe this is a strong signal for a positive future. 

Globally, the newspaper industry has come under pressure. Digital expansion has driven structural change in advertising revenues and the GFC has affected advertising spend across all media. This combined with the continued cost of production, distribution and content has proven to be a tough environment and internationally some newspaper publishers haven’t survived. New Zealand is definitely not immune to these issues but there are some differences in the local market that mean we are well placed to face these challenges head on.

  • The quality of our newspaper brands and editorial content
  • The development of sub-brands (VIVA, Canvas, TimeOut etc) to deliver readership with non-traditional audiences
  • A continued focus on product development based on strong consumer insights
  • Our significant subscriber and home delivery network that gives us a one to one relationship with our customers
  • Strong brand audience growth across multiple digital platforms that is underpinned by a long term trend of stable print readership

The consumption of news and entertainment
content is actually a growth category. More New Zealanders are engaging, more
frequently and on more occasions with our brands than they ever have before. Yes, we need to change the way we think,
act and do business to ensure that APN is well placed to maximise that change.
Yes, at times change is daunting. However, our view is that the best approach is
to power into the future, not stand by and let it come to us.

This year we have embarked on the extensive
rejuvenation of the New Zealand Herald across all its platforms. The Herald is
not just a newspaper, it is an iconic media brand that has been influencing the
lives of New Zealanders for nearly 150 years.

On September 10, 2012 we will re-launch the
Herald across all our platforms. Readers will wake up to a high quality,
compact newspaper that is smart, stylish and contemporary. When they visit
nzherald.co.nz they will be welcomed by a fresh and modern new look and feel
with enhanced navigation that allows readers to easily identify the most
important news stories, latest updates and most popular content. We will launch
our new Social Reader for Facebook that will allow consumers to engage with the
Heralds broad range of content without leaving facebook. Our mobile and tablet
apps will be updated to include scanners that will encourage increased
interaction via QR codes between our print and digital platforms.

Herald advertisers will see their brand
communications engaging and influencing consumers with new impactful page
placements and innovative digital solutions that tap into the Herald’s unique
ability to change opinions—and the way consumers think and feel about your brand.

The New Zealand Herald’s position as an
iconic news and entertainment brand is central to APN’s multi- media
positioning. Alongside the significant investment we are making in the Herald
we have completely reshaped our APN Media Sales team to better meet the needs
of our advertisers.

Our aim is to bring together New Zealand’s most
significant range of media brands and best in class consumer insights to create
impactful solutions for our advertisers. Our new sales structure is designed to
maximise channel expertise while making it easy for advertisers to deal with
us. Our integrated sales team will work across print, digital and mobile with
media specialists in each team. We will also work closely across APN Media New
Zealand with The Radio Network and APN Outdoor. Integrated campaigns across New
Zealand’s most influential and engaging media brands will help us deliver
outstanding results with national, regional and community reach.

Our regional news brands play an important
role in their local market and they are also evolving to meet the needs of
readers. Several APN regional papers have already made the move to compact
format including the Wanganui Chronicle and Northern Advocate. While the Bay of
Plenty Times
and Hawkes Bay Today have moved to morning delivery. Our regional
websites are being developed into virtual town centres to create a digital
community and business hub.

At the core of all our brands is our strong
editorial content. Our newsroom is also changing with the development of our
APNZ national news service and integration between our print and digital news
teams across the business. Our focus is to ensure our quality news gathering
and interpretation is aligned with the way today’s consumer demands – where
they want it, when they want it and how they want it.

So yes, our world is changing. But at APN it is
changing for the better. 

  • Todd McLeay is chief operating officer at APN NZ

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