Val Morgan Group ventures into digital publishing with Fandom deal

Val Morgan Group has locked in an advertising representation deal with US-based entertainment and pop-culture website Fandom.

It marks the first time Val Morgan – which is owned by Hoyts Group – has ventured into the digital publishing space, where it will seek to provide advertisers with the chance to reach consumers across multiple assets.

From January this year, Val Morgan Group will be the representative for Fandom in Australia

Currently, Val Morgan’s portfolio includes cinema, outdoor advertising and custom publishing.

Fandom Australia, a Wikia-owned site, officially entered the Australian market almost two years ago, and has since built out a local editorial arm and launched an Australian version of the website. Nielsen data this year suggested more than 2.5m users access Fandom across Australia and New Zealand.

Val Morgan said it will provide clients with end-to-end media solutions for clients at scale, describing it as a “natural fit” at an event this morning in Sydney.

Newly appointed CEO of Val Morgan Group, Dan Hill, said the deal is part of a broader plan to transform Val Morgan into a modern-day media business.

“It’s audience scale and reach: it’s attention in an attention deficit economy,” Hill told Mumbrella.

Hill and Fandom’s vice president of sales for Asia Pacific, Eric Welles, met several months ago overseas, seeing the mutual opportunity to extend an advertising and branded content offering across both platforms.

Hill said the deal was a “natural fit”

As part of the deal, Welles and his team will work from Val Morgan’s offices in Australia.

“I helped Dan understand where Fandom was going, more about the brand. We instantly saw the connective tissue between what kind of assets they had and the opportunity to join forces and leverage branded content has never been done before,” Welles said.

But Hill, who believes the digital publishing asset is the next step in Val Morgan Group’s overall strategy, said it’s not just about advertising representation, but providing marketing opportunities for Fandom.

“As part of the deal, we are going to market on the screens for more information around movies, entertainment, gaming – go to Fandom. So they are going to have a marketing asset in this partnership which is going to grow the business,” Hill said.

“As other assets get acquired by the business out of the US, we’ll get them into the Australian market as well. This is the start of it and it’s going to keep building and building and we are going to keep connecting that with our unique cinema audience and our sales team.”

However Hill said the partnership is not about integrating Fandom into the Val Morgan business. Rather, it’s about strategically organising opportunities for clients. It is not clear yet whether the two businesses will share audience data with one another.

“It always needs to have Fandom eyes on it to make sure it’s authentic,” he said.

Hill would not comment on whether the sales representation side of the business could grow as big as Multi-Channel Network, which works with Foxtel. But he did draw comparisons to Ooh Media, which bought Junkee Media as part of a content play in 2015.

“We have arguably the best AV platform in media. We have gyms, engaged and passionate. We have on the go… we’ve got those assets which sets us so far apart form Ooh. It sounds the same but it sets us apart,” he said.

Val Morgan Group will represent Fandom locally from January 2019.


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