The general manager overseeing the international growth of the Huffington Post has rejected suggestions it is entering the Australian market too late, insisting it intends to become the market leader Down Under within three to five years.
Rumours have persisted the influential publication would enter the Australian market for the past two years. In that time competitors Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail have entered the local market.
Koda Wang, speaking to Mumbrella on the sidelines of the Australian Data Driven Marketing and Advertising conference in Sydney today, said: “Just because you’re earlier doesn’t mean you will win.
“It’s not about missing the boat. It’s about being not just the right site at the right time, but do you have the right audience, the right content and the right strategy.”
Wang revealed that talks are underway to find a local publishing company to partner The Huffington Post in its Australian launch, which will take place in the first quarter of 2015, but declined to say who it was in discussion only confirming it was in the process of “discussing and evaluating who would be the best fit”.
“We work with partners in almost all markets we go into. In France for example we partner with Le Monde and any partnership that we create, we seek to create something that is better than the sum of the parts,” he said. “It has the best of the partner DNA and the Huffington Post DNA.
“We are looking for a partner that has very strong commercial capabilities as well and one that is willing to put aside some of their own assumptions and their own practices and take in some of the lessons that we have learned.
“We are also looking for a partner than can teach us, that has strong local knowledge and strong local relationships so the learning is very reciprocal.”
The partnership will feature “every facet” of a business including content, commercial, analytics, business development and sales.
“It will be true collaborative effort,” he said. “We’ve considered going into markets on our own but we still believe the partner model has something more to offer. It’s having that local knowledge, relationships, that local brand and commercial relationships which is very difficult to replicate by yourself overnight.”
While the site will be branded The Huffington Post, a local partner will also have branding, he added.
Wang said that while the Australian launch has long been in its plans, other markets had taken priority.
“Unlike a lot of other publishers we don’t have any qualms about doing non English language. We totally are keen for English language sites but we won’t shy away from other languages first which we think are bigger markets, like Germany, France , Spain and Brazil.
“We wanted to target the more promising markets regardless of what language they are in. Others publishers look at it from what are we most comfortable in.”
He added that it’s content will set it apart from competitors.
“There are many things that make The Huffington Post compelling from a customer and commercial perspective. It’s our combination of content and conversation, we’re the number one Facebook publisher in the world.
“We also think there is an appetite for high and low brow content to coexists in one place.”