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Daily Mail Australia ends Nine partnership amid frustrations over lack of local ad sales

Daily MailNine Entertainment Co has sold off its stake in the Daily Mail Australia to British-based parent company The Daily Mail General Trust, just over two years after the joint-venture was created.

Mumbrella understands a key driver for the sale is a frustration from the Daily Mail about how Nine was selling the product, and a concern it was pushing its own properties ahead of the joint venture.

Senior Daily Mail executives, including global MailOnline boss Martin Clarke and chief revenue officer Melanie Scott, are understood to have been in the country this week for a board meeting to finalise the sale.

While the Mail Online is the world’s most read English-language news website it has fallen behind Nine’s Ninemsn website in the online news rankings in recent months.

The original contract saw Nine paid a 25 per cent commission fee, however that was later renegotiated down amid growing tensions about commercial viability of the venture and the difficulty Nine has having in monetising the 2m plus audience.

Holder:

Holder:

Managing director of the Daily Mail Australia Peter Holder, this morning declined to be drawn on the reasons for the decision but in a statement Clarke said: “I’d like to thank Nine for its sterling support since we launched two years ago to make Daily Mail Australia one of Australia’s leading news sites but both companies felt that in a changing media landscape the needs of the website were best served by sole-ownership going forward.

“We are now planning for even more investment in our editorial and commercial offerings.”

It is understood that Daily Mail Australia will now begin recruitment for an in-house sales team and look for additional office space within the Australia Square building. Holder will continue to lead the enterprise.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said: “As our consumer and commercial interests evolve we have agreed with DMGT that our individual interests are best served by unwinding the JV – the NEC team wish them well as they continue to build their business in Australia.”

When the joint venture was first announced Nine’s digital division Mi9 was seeking to head off a looming fall in its online audience arising from the divestment of Microsoft in the company and a resultant loss in traffic from Hotmail sign offs.

DMGT and Nine’s strategy had been to use its popular Ninemsn site to cross-promote content from the Daily Mail in the hope of funnelling traffic to it to make it the most read news website in Australia.

However, internal tensions within the company meant that Ninemsn, under editor-in-chief Hal Crawford, was reluctant to give up its traffic with the result that both sites found themselves stalled, competing for fourth and fifth place behind rivals News.com.au and SMH.com.au as well as the ABC’s news channels.

Nine also invested heavily in the trade marketing promotion of the news website but it is thought that it has struggled to create commercial cut-through with media agencies in an increasingly cluttered news landscape which includes the likes of other overseas new entrants such as The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Mashable and the Huffington Post.

Nic Christensen 

The announcement:

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) and Nine Entertainment Company (NEC) today announced that Daily Mail Australia is to become a 100%-owned DMGT plc publication.

Martin Clarke, Global MailOnline Publisher and CEO, said: “I’d like to thank Nine for its sterling support since we launched two years ago to make Daily Mail Australia one of Australia’s leading news sites but both companies felt that in a changing media landscape the needs of the website were best served by sole-ownership going forward.

“We are now planning for even more investment in our editorial and commercial offerings,” Mr Clarke said.

Hugh Marks, CEO, Nine Entertainment Company said: “As our consumer and commercial interests evolve we have agreed with DMGT that our individual interests are best served by unwinding the JV – the NEC team wish them well as they continue to build their business in the Australian market.”

Today’s announcement will see no change to the Daily Mail Australia website. It will continue to service its approximately two million Australian readers with its newsroom andcommercial teams located in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Peter Holder will continue as Managing Director of Daily Mail Australia reporting to Global MailOnline Publisher and CEO, Martin Clarke and will lead the recruitment of an expanded sales team and offices to accommodate new commercial and editorial hires.

Daily Mail Australia launched on 1 January 2014 and since then has grown to sit in the top five news and entertainment websites in Australia.

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