Fairfax content marketing boss: Ad revenue yet to follow consumer over to mobile platforms

The boss of Fairfax’s content marketing division Simon Smith has warned there is a major lag in advertisers investing in mobile platform, despite major growth in audience.

In a video hangout with Mumbrella on the sidelines of the International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress, Smith said publishers around the world were grappling with the transition.

“We are seeing the rise of mobile consumption but we are yet to see that transition of traditional revenues move across to mobile platforms,” said Smith, who is managing director of content marketing at Fairfax.

“What is clear today in the mobile session is that around the world we are all grappling with the same issue – we know we’ve migrated the revenue how do we now migrate the consumer?”

Smith’s comments came just after his colleague Stefan Savva, mobile director for Fairfax, used the global forum to outline Fairfax’s mobile strategy and their major mobile hiring blitz, aimed at building new capacity into the business.

In the discussion Smith took aim at the often quoted statement of being ‘mobile first’.

“We hear a lot about being mobile first or digital first,” he said. What that means to me is about being audience first.

“We are focusing on where they are consuming content and that is where we need to be.”

Smith commented on the mobile team expansion saying: “I think it we have to invest in growth and where we see our growth areas we have to back ourselves.

“We have to understand that if that’s where the growth is that it is not just going to come along itself we are going to have to work hard to leverage that growth out of the market.

“In a lot of cases it requires specific skill sets that may not exist in the traditional publishing business. Its not just about hiring more people, but the right people”

Smith also commented on projections by the Boston Consulting Group, at the forum, that in the US branded content would grow from US $12bn to $25bn over the next five years.

“I think there is significant growth to be had in the local market,” said Smith. “I don’t think it is anywhere near $25bn but I do think there is a big opportunity in the Australian market,” said Smith, who heads Fairfax’s attempt to capitalise on that growing market which saw the publisher in February launch its own content marketing studio Made by Fairfax.

“We are already seeing many brands in the owned media market producing more and more content and telling their stories. The digital and social worlds are enabling them to do that.”

On the question of paywalls Smith acknowledged mixed views on the sustainability of paid content strategies, with some publishers taking down their paywalls.

“I think the key point is that there is no consensus,” he said. “I think depending on the market and where you are in the world people are experiencing different types of audience behaviours.

“And while we are seeing definite growth in subscription revenues as publishers, and we are also growing advertising revenues, I think it just depends where you are in the world as to what is happening.”

For a timeline of the questions: 

  • 0.20 Branded content the saviour of publishing?
  • 1.50 The rise of mobile audiences globally
  • 2.55 Fairfax’s mobile expansion plans
  • 3.30 The lack of consensus on paywalls
  • 5.00 Washington Post’s attempts to grow audience

Nic Christensen in New York mumbrella360 2015 footer



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