Junkee Media rebrands The Vine as Punkee while it retires FasterLouder in favour of Music Junkee

Junkee Media is rebranding The Vine, which it acquired in December last year, to Punkee with the publication aimed at Gen Z while its flagship title Junkee will be building dedicated communities around politics, music and video.

Speaking to Mumbrella ahead of the company’s upfronts event in Sydney, Junkee Media CEO Neil Ackland said the move would achieve a number of objectives.

“Punkee will be replacing The Vine. We identified Tom Pitney who was running The Vine as being some real talent and the content that was going into The Vine was hitting the mark with a different audience to what we had on Junkee, it was skewing a lot younger,” Ackland explained.

“It was always the plan to bring him in and to create a new brand that targeted Gen Z, that ladders up to the Junkee master brand. The site goes live at the end of May and we’re switching The Vine’s social channels to Punkee and The Vine brand will disappear.”

The Vine will officially be rebranded as Punkey from next month, with a dedicated mobile-only website replacing the pop culture site.

“Punkee’s approach in terms of the product – there won’t be a desktop version of the website, we’re only building it for mobile. We know that about 90% of The Vine’s audience is on mobile, so we’re focused on building the brand from mobile-first to mobile only,” Ackland said.

“Another difference is we’re going to be focused primarily on vertical video rather than landscape. We’ll be playing all the videos in vertical formats which suits mobile much better and we’re going to be focused on off-platform rather than worrying about the audience consuming the content on our platform.”

Ackland said there are “fundamental” differences between Gen Y – which Junkee targets – and Gen Z.

“This year we broadened our research methodology out to encompass Gen Z. The main reason for doing that is there are a couple of observations that we’ve seen recently that millennials are getting older,” Ackland explained.

“Back in 2012 millennials were 15-32 and now they’re 20-37 and it’s a really broad group. The differences between a 20 year old and a 37 year old in terms of their life stages are quite big. What we notice is when brands are coming to talk to us, they want to target the younger end of the spectrum and Junkee’s heartland is younger, we do very well in the younger end of the millennial segment.

“The thing that came through in the research when we looked at it, the difference is in the mood of Gen Z – they’re very optimistic, they’re very positive, their view of their life, their view of Australia, their view of the world is significantly more optimistic than other groups around them.”

Ackland said there are fundamental differences in the way which Gen Z consumes content compared to millennials.

“When they consume media you can really see some differences in how they’re engaging, they’re the mobile-first generation, they’re consuming things visually, their preference for short, sharp video content and the time spent consuming that time of content on places like Facebook and Snapchat is much, much higher than a 22-35 year old,” he said.

“We felt to really talk to this audience we needed another product that is done in a different way.”


Alongside the launch of Punkee, Junkee Media’s flagship product Junkee will see dedicated sections built around social communities for Politics Junkee, Video Junkee and Music Junkee.

“Junkee is four years old now and what we’re trying to do is look at the areas of content we’re getting the most traction with the Junkee audience and then go deeper with those and start to build those audiences out,” Ackland explained.

“They’re going to have their own social panels and e-mail subscriber databases so we can build out segmented communities around it. For example, politics does really well on Junkee and so does video content and what we wanted to be able to do is to be able to go much deeper on those topics.

“Some of that content will still appear in the main feed but we can also go deeper on those topics by having a targeted community around them.”

Neil Ackland: Junkee Media has chosen Adobe as its DMP partner

Ackland said the segmented communities would allow brands to directly target specific areas of Junkee’s audience.

“We are also announcing we have chosen Adobe as our DMP partner.  So what we’re going to start to do is build up some segmentation around different parts of our audience so we can deliver a more rounded partner product at scale for advertisers,” he said.

“This is part of our strategy – digging into different segments and being able to re-target those segments and build out a richer data set around them moving forward.”

Music Junkee will replace Junkee Media’s Faster Louder brand.

“What we’ve noticed is when you look at the data on what people are engaging with, when we launched Faster Louder which was over 10 years ago, the market was very genre driven,” Ackland explained.

“People would be very religious about being into one particular genre of music to the exclusion of others. What we’ve noticed over the last few years is the genre boundaries have faded away and people just like music, they don’t need to put it into a neat box or a bracket.

“We felt the bigger opportunity with Music Junkee was to talk to people across the full music spectrum and to broaden it out beyond the niche that Faster Louder was in. We think that will give us a much bigger opportunity for growth around music.”

However, Junkee Media’s dance music publication Inthemix will not be affected with Ackland describing it as “commercially strong”.

“Inthemix is still very strong, it is very differentiated in its positioning in Australia and still, in terms of audience and commercially, really strong. We’ve got events that come off the back of Inthemix, we’re deeply in that niche, we’re very committed to Inthemix.”

Music Junkee will be edited by Katie Cunningham who is currently editor of inthemix. Politics Junkee will be led by news & politics editor Osman Faruqui with the aim of building on Junkee’s reputation for funny and smart political news for young Australians. Former Tropfest Festival development manger Henry Kalaf has joined Junkee Media as executive producer of Video Junkee.


Video Junkee will be complemented with the launch of a new event – Video Junkee 2017, a two-day “festival” that will run at Sydney’s Carriageworks from July 28 to 30 in partnership with Destination NSW.

“The obvious takeout for us when we looked at the content doing well on Junkee was everyone is talking about what they are watching, it’s become the water-cooler conversation,” Ackland said.

“If you look at that space right now there’s going to be many billions of dollars invested in content creation over the next year or two. So we think there is a real role to play in a filter that sits over all that content that also gives new, young content creators an opportunity to be discovered and pushed out to the Video Junkee community.

“The event itself is talking to both these segments – the bigger end of town content providers and emerging content creators looking to find a voice. There will be showcases at night and panel sessions during the day with content creators who are doing interesting things in the space. It’s much more focused on innovative ways to get your content distributed and how to get it funded.”

The new event completes Junkee Media’s current event offering which includes Junket, which Ackland said would return this year, Inthemix Awards and the Electronic Music Conference.

“For now, this year, we’ve got a full slate but we’re definitely looking at it and as we start to build out more of these targeted communities we’ll be looking at how we can bring those audiences together in the real world and then bring brand through that, it’s definitely part of our strategy,” he said.

Reflecting on the goals the publisher set itself at last year’s upfronts, Ackland admitted the publisher has not completely ditched display advertising despite pledging to do so last year, arguing it was looking at being more “innovative” in the space.

“We’ve been testing out a bunch of new formats, we’ve been having a lot of success with our native titles which see us create a custom ad to promote the content we’re creating for a brand, they’ve been performing really well,” he said.

“We haven’t yet phased out display. We’re keeping an eye on the market and working out what the optimum time is to make those moves. We’re still in the display business. We’re still doing things around display but it’s more innovating away from the traditional banner ad and looking at ways we can use our data to create a more contextual ad and things we can do with content.”

The last 12 months saw the company acquired by out-of-home company Ooh Media which Ackland said has helped the publisher build scale.

“The biggest difference has been how Ooh is helping us to scale every part of the business from audience to revenue to people and expertise,” Ackland said.

“They’ve really got behind the business in a big way. It’s a great opportunity for us, it’s one of the most exciting times in the business in terms of the support we’ve got from Ooh.

“With Punkee, as an example, the vertical video content will also be going out simultaneously through Ooh’s screen network so we’ll be reach Gen Z’s through the out-of-home network as well and that’s an exciting opportunity for us. Being able to push our native content through those channels as well is a great opportunity for brands we’re working with as well.”


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