Paper review: Axe to swing at Group M?; Grazia struggling?; ABC’s regional online plans; Fairfax staff given bikes

So allow me to give you a glimpse into the charming domesticity that is my life.

On a Monday morning, I throw myself out of bed extra early to check out the media and marketing sections of the Oz and the Fin. The more stories they have, the more I have to cover in this regular review.  

So just after midnight on a Sunday night (generally after I’ve given my Freeeview box its one outing of the week to watch Formula One), I’ll pop online to see what they’ve got up.

After doing that last night, I set my alarm clock back by half an hour. There’s not much to chew on.

So let’s start with the Australian Financial Review instead today – they don’t do the free interweb so I had to wait til this morning to see that.

And it will make uncomfortable reading for bosses of WPP’s many media agencies in Australia, united under the Group M banner.

According to the paper, WPP is to review its senior executives as part of a cost saving exercise. Which does seem somewhat at odds with last week’s, presumably not cheap, signing of Mat Baxter to head media planning at Mediacom. But according to the AFR, Asia Pacific CEO Mark Patterson is reviewing ‘the top 10 per cent” of its execs. The three namechecked in the piece are the newish arrivals of Jeff Ewing as COO of Group M, Peter Vogel at Mediaedge and Toby Jenner at Mediacom. The paper also flags up last week’s reports that Mediacom has lost Westpac to OMD and suggests that the group has lost $140m of business in less than three years and picked up just $27m.

Still with the AFR, Neil Shoebridge dedicates his column to an update on the TV market. He says that Ten’s improving performance has left the network with the most benefit from the current short term market.

Speaking of the market, the decline has stopped, says Shoebridge in annother piece, quoting OMD’s Peter Horgan as saying things are still grim but not as dire as they were. Mind you, the next person quoted is Barry O’Brien of PHD who says he doubts the market has bottomed out.

And its not just media agencies tightening their belts, says the AFR. SOM and Smart are seeing a new funding formula from client Coca-Cola Australia. It means that rather than making up to 30% profit they’ll be capped at a performance-related 23%.

But I did learn one thing from the Fin. It profiles investment company Netus, which is 75% owned by News Ltd. Among the companies within the portfolio is 90% of Allure Media, the firm behind local editions of blogs such as Defamer and Gizmodo. I must admit, I had no idea (and I suspect the readers didn’t either) that the sites are part of the News Corp family.

The paper also returns to the subject of the magazine ABC sales figures, published about 10 days ago now. It suggests that although ACP’s weekly fashion fix Grazia reported 65,000 copies, the figure excluding giveaways and discounted copies is 40-45,000.

Over at The Oz, the paper goes in to battle on behalf of major commercial publishers who, it says, are getting indignant about the ABC’s plans to launch regional websites. APN, Fairfax and Prime Media Group are the companies, who might be unhappy at the ABC’s intervention in the market, apparently. Sadly there’s no room in the lengthy piece to mention that News Ltd, owner of the paper, has its own, not insignificant investment in local sites: whereilive.com.au.

The paper also has some more detail on the launch of new News Ltd site The Punch, which it says will launch “early next month”. One rumour Mumbrella has heard is a week today, Monday June 1. According to boss David Penberthy “it won’t be a self-interested aggregation exercise by News Ltd”.

Inside the Oz’s media section, News Ltd rival Fairfax is taken to task over potentially misleading online readers. The paper says people who click on a “breaking news” link are  taken to a page of advertorial. Fairfax Digital boss Jack Matthews tells the paper: “This is absolutely clearly labelled once you get to it.” Once you get to it. Hmmm.

Indeed, the funniest story of the week also emerges from Fairfax. Amanda Meade reports in her diary column that Fairfax Media is introducing a fleet of bikes for its reporters. Very green, and of course, a lot cheaper than CabCharges.

And in adland, Vodafone’s got an interesting strategy, reports the paper. It will be running a nightly roadblock ad at 8pm across all the major networks for the next two weeks.

Tim Burrowes


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