Publishers ‘need to do more together’: APN head

Publishers need to show greater industry unity to compete for market share with other media, APN chief Michael Miller said this week.

“We need to make it easier for advertisers to buy, plan and interact with the print networks,” he told The Newspaper Works.

“This isn’t about pricing; it’s about providing advertisers with more practical solutions and competing more for market share with other media,” said Mr Miller, the chief executive of APN News & Media.

The logistics of printing, distribution and advertising formats are all areas where publishers have little reason to compete, according to Mr Miller, and are vital for making the medium more attractive to advertisers.

“Where TV typically has four ad lengths consistently, and radio has three ad lengths, we’ve got many, many sizes in different publications, which makes that more challenging,” he explained.

“These are all industry issues, not individual publisher issues.”

Publishers come together regularly on industry matters, and have formed alliances which have seen Fairfax Media and News Corp Australia share transport for newspaper deliveries in regional areas.

Among many industry activities, they work together at The Newspaper Works, as investors in the audience metric emma, with the Australian Press Council and alongside each other at the Audited Media Association of Australia.

There have been numerous discussions over the years between Fairfax, News and APN on shared print facilities, but challenges remain in achieving this.

“It isn’t as easy as just being in the same printing plant together. It’s a far more challenging logistical exercise,” Mr Miller said, citing the difficulties of sharing print schedules and truck runs and producing different publications on different presses.

He said printing was just “the thin edge”, with many areas open for collaborative improvement, including sub-editing.

“In 2013, 47 of Australia’s top 50 advertisers used print,” he said. “We don’t need to convince them to use print – they understand it. We need to convince them to use more of it. So this is really a market share discussion for print in line with other media.”

Total newspaper media readership hit a new high of 16.4 million Australians every month, according to emma data released in May, the highest figure since studies began in June 2013.

As is widely reported, the drop in advertising for print has been far greater than the drop in audience, Mr Miller explained. “We don’t have an audience problem – we have a revenue problem.

“There’s very little head-to-head competition that exists in Australian and New Zealand publishing.

“What we can do together in terms of taking market share from other media should be the priority of all publishers.”

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