HuffPo Australia wants to be amongst top five titles and profitable within three years

Janz at the ADMA conference

Janz at the ADMA conference

The boss of the Huffington Post Australia says it is aiming to be in the top five Nielsen online news sites and profitable within three years.

Speaking at yesterday’s Association of Data Driven Marketing and Advertising  (ADMA) global forum, Huffpo Australia CEO Chris Janz said: “There’s two clear goals for me: one is to be in the top five in the readership sense within three years. If you’re not in the market to get to the top why be in the market?”

“We’re not coming into the market with the expectation that we’re going to be spending billions overnight but it’s a real business. It’s run very much as a startup,” he said.

The boss of the new online news operation also denied claims by the new Mi9/Fairfax programmatic exchange that the Huffpo’s mobile inventory would be included in the exchange, telling the room: “we’re not working with APEX.”

Huffington Post has been on a hiring blitz ahead of its launch in two weeks on August 19.

The publisher has already secured more than ten staff to work under former News Corp Australia opinion editor Tory Maguire who will head the editorial side of the operation. Among the hires are assistant Daily Mail editor Chris Paine and supervising producer Nicolette Logue as news editors; former executive producer of video at AAP Tom Compagnoni who will lead its video content; and experienced former ABC and SBS political reporter Karen Barlow, who will be the local Huffpo’s political editor.

When questioned on Huffington Post approaching journalists and writers to produce content for the site, Janz explained there’s two parts to Huffington Post: the blogging platform and the journalistic enterprise.

“On the journalistic enterprise front we are a professional newsroom where everyone is paid and everyone has professional credentials and they’re producing a great quality news site,” he said.

“Sitting alongside that we have the blogging platform, which is where we’ve come from, and I relate it to WordPress, to Twitter, it’s a platform, people can chose to write when they want and how they want. We don’t ask for exclusivity.

“For us as we were entering the market we put out feelers to a bunch of people went ‘hey, do you want in?’ If the answers no that’s no problem.”

Last month media commentator and creative director and owner of Campaign Edge Dee Madigan described an unsolicited approach from the publisher to write for free as insulting.

Asked about Huffington Post’s native advertising venture, which it pushes out from its Huffington Post Partner Studio, Janz said it is important because native captures the “trends of the internet” such as the push to mobile and the rise of social.

“Now 40 per cent of our revenue in the US is expected to be from native,” he said.

When questioned on how HuffPo approach the church and state separation Janz said native content is only produced by journalists working in the Partner Studio.

“Everyone who works on our Partner Studio content is a journalist but they’re working on brand stories rather than traditional rounds,” he said.

“If you look at the US, pretty much everyone on the Partner Studio team is a journalist who was in the main newsroom and they’ve moved over to Partner Studio but they’re just working on telling brand studios.”

Janz also confirmed there will be no Huffington Post sales people on the ground, with Fairfax providing sales support for the site.

In response to Janz’s comments APEX CEO Pippa Leary told Mumbrella discussions are still “ongoing” between Fairfax and HuffPo Australia.

“Until those are settled APEX will not have any conversations with Huff Po. Until the deal is finalised it will be unclear how much non-guaranteed inventory the JV will have available,” she said.

“As has been indicated APEX receives non-guaranteed inventory from its publishers – any inventory that has been allocated as part of agency or other deals will not be in this pool.”

Miranda Ward


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