‘When they go high, in terms of age, we go low’: Junkee jabs Pedestrian and slams Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings

Junkee’s CEO Neil Ackland has had “a little bit of a dig” at rival youth publisher Pedestrian while discussing audience measurement, in particular the validity of Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR).

Speaking on a panel at Mumbrella’s Publish conference yesterday, Ackland addressed Nine’s managing director, publishing, Chris Janz, with a challenge for Pedestrian to dig deeper than vanity metrics, particularly now its portfolio has spread to former Allure Media properties.

Ackland: “When they go high, we go low”

“One of the things we’re looking at is not the total reach of our website, which Mumbrella always reports on every month … the Nielsen numbers. What we’re trying to say is, okay, within that total number, how many of those people were actually in our target demographic and how do we benchmark ourselves against that,” Ackland said,

“I’m going to have a little bit of a dig at Pedestrian here, Chris, I’m sorry. But in the last few weeks, Pedestrian came out with the new positioning around broadening out to include all the Allure titles and those numbers. And I think those numbers, they’re so big, and looking [at them] you think wow, those are some really big numbers right there. But when you actually look under the hood, you realise that the percentage of those people in that news demo is actually quite small.”

Earlier this month, the Pedestrian Group revealed its first figures since the Allure merger, reporting a unique audience of 3.5m in August for its entire group portfolio, including Business Insider Australia, Kotaku, Gizmodo, Pop Sugar Australia and Lifehacker. The figure was a significant jump from Pedestrian.TV’s July unique audience of 1.074m, which was ahead of Junkee’s 850,234. August DCR figures for Junkee Media were masked due to a tagging issue, but the publisher did report record traffic for its Punkee site.

Janz joked that “it only took two questions” for Ackland to take aim at Pedestrian.

“It’s a very interesting challenge because we’re all out there, you know, we’re pushing very hard. The way we like to talk about it internally is when they [Pedestrian] go high, we go low,” Ackland added.

Panel moderator and Mumbrella’s content director Tim Burrowes clarified: “Do you mean when they go low, you go high?”

“No, when they go high, in terms of age, we go low,” Ackland said.

“We’re trying to engage with younger audiences because that’s ultimately what advertisers want for us. They come to us because we’ve got this genuine, authentic engagement with the youth. And the question [is] what is youth? Is 35 youth? I don’t know. And actually, when you look under the hood, there are some interesting things going on there that you don’t quite see when you just look at the big, top line numbers.”

But Janz wouldn’t be baited into answering whether Pedestrian has a more elderly audience than Junkee, agreeing forcefully with Ackland that the value of Nielsen’s DCR is extremely limited, and, in fact, he “could not care less”.

“I think it talks to a much bigger issue, which is measurement needs to evolve across digital, and the story every month is the Nielsen rankings in a bunch of broad, brushstroke categories. That isn’t at all relevant to any of my businesses,” Janz said.

“We do not look at raw page impressions one bit across those titles. We do not look at the monthly Nielsen rankings. I could not care less. They are not tied to the success of the business.

“The businesses are focussed on very different measures of success than those traditional measures and each of our titles have their own focus. None of them map back to raw Nielsen rankings in what drives the businesses everyday and the decisions made within those businesses and I think we need to get away from a world where it’s all about jockeying for Nielsen positions, because that isn’t healthy for the success of publishing and I think we should all will each other’s businesses to be successful.”

Ackland’s response? “Have a chat with Pedestrian about it.”

The panel (L-R): Neil Ackland, Rebecca Costello, Nicholas Gray, Chris Janz and moderator Tim Burrowes

The Australian’s managing director, Nicholas Gray, agreed, adding that Nielsen’s DCR are not how his title measures success.

I think The Oz sort of happily sits around 16th or 17th on that metric, but we’re the biggest subscription news brand in the country and we don’t focus on reach except obviously to get people in the top of the funnel, to convert them to subscribe,” Gray said.

Ackland said that while it was promising to hear his rivals agreed, media owners have to do a better job communicating their position on Nielsen’s DCR with advertisers and media agencies.

“I think it’s great we’re all on the same page. I guess the challenge is that we’ve almost trained advertisers and media buyers and the market to look at those metrics because we are talking about them still,” Ackland said.

“And I think they’re really shallow and a bit flimsy and I think it would be much better if we all move forward from a lot of those numbers because there’s not that much substance to them.”


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