News unveils new site and divides opinion

The Financial Review Group has this week launched its new look site, but media buyers remain reserved about just how much the changes will lure more subscribers and advertisers.  

The relaunched site claims to be more user friendly, with more advertising inventory and a new editorial section called AFR Dealbook which provides an analysis of all the major business deals and capital market developments.

AFR site

It will continue to provide exclusive content to complement its print version, The Australian Financial Review, and it has also ramped up its video content with more interviews with CEOs on its Financial Review TV section.

Michael Gill, Financial Review Group chief executive, said it has made a “big transformation” in the way it works, from the platform it now uses to its content.

The website has always been primarily reliant on subscriptions and Gill argues that its paid online model has been the standard in the industry since it began, pointing to the likes of Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Gill said while there are different models to suit different news websites, its strategy is necessary to meet the demands of a “high-value audience” in need of specific content in a number of niche areas.

Emitch media director Adrian Roeling said while he is yet to thoroughly review the changes to the site, he argued that there is already “a lot of premium content available for free” from sites such as Business Spectator. “So the new site would have to be pretty compelling from a content perspective,” he argued.

Another media buyer said “seems to be a light version of Business Spectator and other finance sites like Forbes,… but trapped behind a clumsy paywall”.

Gill has maintained that it is “ahead of schedule” in its subscription targets, however he declined to reveal its subscriber numbers. Its print cousin this week reported a 9.7 per cent fall in circulation to 79,201 in its weekday editions according to ABC figures, although much of this has been attributed to the rash of redundancies in the financial sector due to the global financial crisis.

MD of digital agency Isobar Marcus Hawkins-Adams said his initial impressions of the site have been positive, pointing to the “nice crisp clean design and engaging features and content”.

“The main issue for us would be the lack of any paid search campaigns to help drive traffic to the site. They are obviously a very strong brand, but use of paid search for terms such as ‘stock market’ and ‘exchange rates’ would have been good to see as a way to grow overall traffic,” he said.


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