Press review: Seven gets into infomercials; more ACP cuts; Harold vs WPP

In tough times for TV, Seven Media Group is developing new revenue streams, reports Neil Shoebridge in the Australian Financial Review.  

He reveals that the organisation is moving into the  world of the infomercial, and has hired Sally Williams, the face of the Brand Power ads.

The group will create Infocus packages to run as advertorials across the Seven Network, Pacific Magazines and Yahoo!7. Advertisers will be required to commit at least 60% of their budget, Seven sales boss James Warbuton tells the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Seven is trimming its costs, the AFR reports. However, the paper says that the network is better placed in the declining TV market than rivals Nine or Ten because of its current healthy cash surplus.

And Tenhas suffered an embarrassing blow prior to the launch of its digital sports channel One. According to the paper, Sony Australia has shifted its sports sponsorship to Seven. Shoebridge reports:

“Ten is believed to have told some advertisers, including Sony, that they could buy both channels or nothing, which is an odd approach given how tough the TV advertising market is this year.”

The AFR also focuses on the magazine world’s difficulties – reporting that the ACP / Hearst joint venture Grazia is facing a review including staff numbers, publishing frequency and paper stock. And the paper says that some ACP titles have had to cut their rates by a third to bring in ads.

Poultry brand Steggles is extending its reach, says the paper. Woolworths is this week starting to sell beef and pork lines from the brand.

Harold Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell Communication Group – Australia’s largest media buyer – ups the pressure on the newspaper industry to get a move on with its review of how readership is measured by Roy Morgan Research, saying: “It’s critical for publishers to act now.”

Mitchells also takes out ads in today’s Fin and The Australian trumpeting last week’s Nielsen numbers, which confirmed the company as Australia’s biggest media buyer. Group M – representing WPP agencies Maxus, Mediacom, mediaedge: cia and Mindshare – may have anticipated that. They have their own ad – stating: “Being big means little without intelligent application of scale”.

The Australian also publishes an impassioned plea from Clemenger chairman Robert Morgan for the industry to unite against regulatory threats, which he describes as  a “mad scramble for the lifeboats of the Titanic”. He warns:

“Above all we need to unite. We need to focus on the central issue, to generate trust by government and the community.”

Current affairs shows that get sucked into the hype of a particular story will have to take responsibility if the commercial claims are misleading, warns the paper. It highlights two cases being pursued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against Seven’s Today Tonight.

Meanwhile, Lara Sinclair reports on the plans announced by Google last week to target users with interest-based advertising reflecting their surfing habits. Publishers have expressed concerns that it could see their high value audiences being profiled and later targeted with ads on cheaper sites elsewhere.

Interpublic media agencies Initiative and Universal McCann have been banned by their parent company from competing on pitch lists, says The Oz.

Michael Bodey warns that the first Nielsen radio surveyof the year has prioduced “rogue” results with “grave commercial consequences to a number of FM operators”.

Diarist Amanda Meade reports on the atmosphere inside News Ltd including the activities of former Daily Telegraph editor David Penberthy. She says: “Penbo has teamed up with Paul Colgan for an online project which will be operating by May.” Mumbrella hears that an Australian version of the Huffington Post wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

Meade also highlights what is likely to be a frequently-returned-to-topic in the coming weeks. Seven wunderkind Adam Boland – the man behind the success of Sunrise – has just six months left on his contract.

And Mark Day has been in WA, picking over the controversial five year reign of Paul Armstrong, ex-editor of The West Australian. According to Day: “The difference between being a successful campaigning editor and a destructive force is maturity. The evidence suggests Armstrong did not understand this.”

There are two interesting nuggets in the Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD column. It highlights former realestate.com.au CEO Simon Baker’s blog which includes the story of how he got fired. And it covers the rapprochement of James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch.

And Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is the latest to discover Twitter, reporting on the outbreak of fake politicians on the social networking site.


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