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Merger will not impact Fairfax, Google relationship

Fairfax Media’s unique market relationship with Google will not be affected by the proposed media merger with Nine Entertainment says Chris Janz, Fairfax’s managing director of Australian Metro Publishing.

Mr Janz said that Fairfax’s operating relationship with the online platform will be “business as usual” as the merger undergoes the appropriate regulatory checks with the ACCC.

The Fairfax executive appeared on a panel on Tuesday with Dan Peters, Google’s director of partnerships for Australia and New Zealand, at AdWeek’s first annual APAC conference, outlining the key benefits for each of the business.

Talking to NewsMediaWorks following the presentation, Mr Janz praised Google for its level-headed approach to the announcement, saying the two companies had yet to discuss the implications of the merger approval.

Fairfax and Google signed the programmatic deal in December 2017 to the surprise of the Australian media market. The search platform provides Fairfax with the ad-tech and programmatic expertise to deliver advertising across the publisher’s mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, WAtoday, The Canberra Times, Brisbane Times and lifestyle properties. In return, Fairfax provides Google quality, engaged audiences at scale and access to its content.

Google would not comment on the future of the deal if the merger proceeded, but Mr Peters did say that the tech giant worked “closely with a range of news partners here in Australia”.

Throughout the fireside chat, Mr Peters and Mr Janz spoke candidly about the deal, saying that transparency has been the key to its success so far.

Mr Janz said the ease of the partnership had “been a pleasant surprise”.

“We are supposed to have an adversarial relationship but we took a very different approach,” Mr Janz said.

“For me, the surprise has been how transparent and open we have been able to be and then the results that have flowed from that – it’s not a typical relationship anymore.”

The programmatic chain had allowed sales teams “to have much more meaningful conversations” with advertisers. This had created flow on effects in the business, with Mr Janz saying the resulting revenue growth had allowed the publisher to better invest in quality journalism.

“This [partnership] really unlocks the best of a premium publisher and the best of an ad scale technical genius. That best to both worlds really unlocks a whole host of opportunities and allows us to have conversations with advertisers and agencies that otherwise would have been challenging,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by Mr Peters.

“For advertisers, what they are getting is great technology, better data, and a really premium proposition,” he said.

The pair also discussed how the partnership has aided the publisher in ways other than programmatic.

Fairfax found that many potential subscribers were dropping out of the initial subscription sign-up process at the payment stage. Through utilising Google’s GPay product, which allows users to store and access their credit card data in browser, Mr Janz said the “friction” users experienced had been removed, leading to higher conversions.

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