Nine’s Lizzie Young On Fairfax Deal: Market Confidence Is There Today

Nine’s Lizzie Young On Fairfax Deal: Market Confidence Is There Today
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In the first week since the proposed merger between Fairfax and Nine was revealed, Nine’s content strategy director Lizzie Young has been excited by the positive response from advertisers.

“The narrative that you’re seeing tells you what their thoughts are. What’s really encouraging is the confidence in the market seems to be there from today,” Young told B&T.

What people are excited about is the “amazing scale to a marketing platform that has an enormous amount of premium content across a whole range of platforms”.

Young added there has been an immediate sense of ‘how is this going to work?’ In other words, people are accepting and excited.

When asked what excited her personally about the deal when she first heard about it, she said it was having more homes for her content to live in.

“When we start at the beginning and we commission a show or a piece of content in the digital business, it’s then a case of how is that piece of content going to live everywhere?

“As it stands today, we consider free to air television, BVOD, short-form video, social, owned and operated digital publishing assets. The exciting opportunity I think with the potential merger is how do we expand that into radio and how does that look in the premium publishing environment from a marketing platform environment,” she said.

Young said the other piece that’s very exciting is Nine already had a great partnership with Domain and The Block for several years now. “So how do we work together to offer something even more compelling around passions for Australians?

“If you consider that Domain and The Block are both around housing, real estate and renovation – the great Australian dream – that for me becomes really meaningful.”

While Young is excited, she says it’s way too soon to start any real concrete plans for the merger and indicated that internally the end of the calendar year would be the earliest any real work would begin in earnest, providing the ACCC gives the deal the nod.

“It’s a huge undertaking and everything we do will be well thought out and considered … The two businesses will be run independently for quite some time.”

One of the other benefits of the merger is Fairfax’s separate arrangement with Google, which may well help Young in her endeavours to strike a deal with the search giant.

“I’m completely focused on our video content and how much of it ends up on [YouTube].  We’re doing a lot of test and learn at the moment.

Starting from scratch with something like a Love Island and putting that on their platform and seeing how good are we? How good is our content strategy?

“Seeing it deliver 170 million streams on YouTube globally is quite amazing,” she said.

“So we’re now focused on our short-from video content, the best of what we’ve got. How can we attract more audience, both globally and locally in Australia and promote our owned and operated platforms in Australia and then how we monetise it.”

Young said she been in talks with all of the major tech platforms, but that only the talks with Google and YouTube are progressing well. “Their CPMs and their algorithm is the issues there, but they do have a framework for a proposition. Facebook and Twitter, don’t have that monetisation capability against video content as we stand here today.”

Finally Young acknowledged editorial independence has been one of the big questions that has been around since the announcement. “Advertisers see it as important, we see it as important. Trust has become one of the greatest words of the year.

“We’re very proud that Nine is known for a 6pm bulletin every night and it is local and it is trusted . . .we agree with editorial independence.”

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