Junkee Media has pledged to ditch display ads as part of its move to a commercial model supported solely by its native advertising offering.
The pledge is part of the brand’s focus on its “off-platform” publishing strategy, which it announced at its upfronts event in Sydney this morning.
The move away from display ads follows research conducted by Junkee Media – which the brand will explain at the Vivid Festival, in June – which reveals 55% of Australian millennials (18-34 year olds) are already using adblockers.
Junkee Media CEO Neil Ackland describe the statistic as, “stunning: we are still trying to figure out what that means.”
Ackland: “55% of all millennials are using adblockers”
“It’s hard to tell stories using banners; no-one ever cried looking at a banner ad,” Ackland said.
Junkee Media is using banner ad as a catch-all phrase for display advertising.
“The reason why TV has been so resilient is because it creates an emotional response. I’m going to make a bold statement today: Junkee Media, at some time in the not-so-distant future – will no longer deliver banner ads.
“We want to move to an advertising model that is equitable for the user, the publisher and the brand. And we believe that model is native.”
The focus on native is not surprising given the company’s announcement in July that native advertising made up more than half of its revenue. Junkee Media is not the first to do this, with BuzzFeed taking a no display advertising approach, focusing instead on native.
The promise to ditch banner ads comes as the publisher revealed its video strategy, which it describes as “so-mo-vi” (social-mobile-video).
“Our video strategy is to fish where the fish are and at the moment we know the fish most definitely are spending a lot of time on Facebook,” Ackland said.
“When we think about video, our entire approach to video production, format and everything it starts with social – it starts with Facebook; it starts with mobile.
“So-mo-vi we see as a big way of getting native video across to our audience,” he added.
The video strategy fits into Junkee’s focus on off-platform publishing which aims to use Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP and Apple News to reach a wider audience.
Duggan: “We are on the edge of a new era in publishing”
Junkee Media publisher, Tim Duggan, said: “We are really on the edge of what we’re calling the ‘new era in publishing’. Media has been one of the industries most affected by the digital disruption.
“Up until now the media had two main jobs. The first job was to create content that people actually wanted to read and the second part was then to drive people to your media channel to consume that content.
“Now all of that is changing and for us, as an agile, future-facing publisher, there’s never been a more exciting time.
“We’re currently entering what we refer to as the ‘post-website era’. This is where publishers won’t need a a destination to drive traffic towards.
“The primary role of media is still to create thumb-stopping content but how the audience finds that and engages with the content is changing and shifting so fast.”
Duggan said the shift doesn’t mean a media title isn’t important, rather it needs to stand for something so a consumer will click on content from a social feed.
“That media title is that sign of quality, consistency and attitude that you know makes it worth your time,” he said.
Looking at the platforms that will be distributing content, Junkee said Facebook will remain a primary player.
Duggan cited the previewed Junkee Media research, saying 96% of Australian millennials are on Facebook multiple times a day.
“To the Australian millennial Facebook is like air or water,” he said, adding that Facebook’s Instant Articles are changing everything again.
“It’s such a massive shift for publishers, but small independent publishers can really take advantage of this.
“We’ll be publishing virtually 100% of all of our articles on Facebook Instant Articles.”
Similarly, as of last month, Duggan said all of Junkee Media’s titles are “optimised” on Google AMP, with all Junkee Media content also published through Apple News as well.
“We are putting so much time and strategy into our off-platform strategy,” Duggan said, adding the company is looking to hire a head of off-platform who will be responsible for growing the company’s audiences across off-platform channels.
Meanwhile, during the upfront event, Junkee Media announced three video “programs” that it will roll-out over the first half of this year, with the first, The American Act, set to launch in the coming days.
The American Act is a regular web series hosted by Australian drag queen Courtney Act.
“We thought who better to dissect the craziness of the US then a gender-bendering Australian who’s lived in the US for the past five years,” Duggan said.
The American Act will dissect American politics and current events, with first episodes of the series to provide explainers of how the US political system works.
“We think this is a really interesting way to approach the news,” Duggan said.
Junkee Media will also launch ‘Selfie Shtick’ which will see a selfie stick travel around Australia, visiting comedians who will record a skit about that day’s or week’s news, which will then be published directly to Junkee Media’s social channels.
The third is a live panel show, Junkee.Live, which aims to “capitalise on the live video movement taking over people’s Facebooks”.
Duggan said: “We’re going to be taking advantage of the Facebook Live video feed by having Junkee.Live which will be a panel interview show, live from the Junkee offices, every week, that will look at the top stories and answer questions from the audience.”
The company also announced it is opening up its publishing system for brands to work with.
Named Cleanskin, Ackland described it as a “white label solution for brands”.
“The Cleanskin system is what sits at the core of the Junkee Media network, now we’re opening this up for brands own websites and content strategies,” he said.
“This is a powerful custom publishing system that can distribute your branded content on or off platform.”