Millennials, mobile and video are in APN’s crosshairs with its $11.6 million acquisition of digital publisher Conversant Media.
Sixty per cent of Conversant’s audience is under 34, and its annual revenue of $4.4 million is entirely digital, with 7 per cent from video.
Its assets are tech and lifestyle site Techly, pop culture site Lost in E Minor, and sports site The Roar.
APN chief executive Ciaran Davis – still awaiting watchdog approval to sell his 70-plus newspaper chain to News Corp Australia – said the acquisition aligned with the company’s three strategic pillars:
“We’ve got out of the big, traditional publishing business,” Mr Davis said of APN’s decision to sell its regional newspaper division.
“We have got ourselves into a business where content is being increasingly consumed.”
Conversant’s The Roar already sponsors sports news on a station in APN’s Australian Radio Network, called The Edge. This is one example in which the new acquisitions would integrate with other APN assets – radio, outdoor advertising, streaming and content marketing businesses.
APN recently increased its shareholding in outdoor firm Adshell from 50 per cent to total ownership in a $268.4 million purchase.
Mr Davis said this strategic move would allow APN to accelerate digital investment across13,500 street furniture panels in Australian and New Zealand.
Digital screens would increase from 516 to 1500 in the next three years, which represented a 13 per cent increase in inventory across its outdoor network.
“Adshell street furniture is moving towards being a broadcast (medium), and in some respects, content business. It’s moving away from being a pure advertising play business,” Mr Davis said.
A demonstration of the strategy came during the recent AFL Grand Final when the Australian Football League provided live match updates and key statistics on the side of Yarra Trams.
“These are the types of things that consumers want from a content perspective and are appealing from an advertiser’s perspective,” Mr Davis said.
“The channels that we’re in are growing and will continue to grow, and they are able to be integrated.”
Meanwhile, APN awaits approval to from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to sell its newspaper division to News Corp for $36 million.
The watchdog expressed concern earlier this month that the deal might reduce competition and the quality and diversity of content in Queensland.
A decision is expected on December 1.
Mr Davis did not commit to finding another buyer if this deal was rejected. “We’d address that when the time comes,” he said. “We’re working with the ACCC to address its concerns.
“Diversity of content – provision of local content – is an issue that we’re very conscious of,” he continued. “Equally, we’ve got to be conscious that there are global players who are operating in this and other markets all over the world.”