Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Entertainment: The new battleground for AU digital dollars?

The launch of ninemsn's The Fix website last year gained some column inches in the local media, including this story (http://business.smh.com.au/ninemsn-offers-celebrity-fix-in-push-to-boost-audience/20071128-1diu.html) from Julian Lee of the SMH which talked about these gossip sites ability to bring in ad revenue (generally across FMCG products which traditionally haven't migrated marketing dollars online despite the eyeballs shifting away from their more traditional media sources).

So anyway, I was checking out news.com.au the other day and noticed that they have also given their Entertainment properties a spruce up (further to their consolidation of their gossip sections into the Confidential section last year). Check - http://www.news.com.au/entertainment

The relaunch looks good - brings a lot of the content to the fore ... only downside is the page is way too long and perhaps is trying to cram too much in. Still - any site with an MREC and a Leaderboard above the fold is okay with me ;)

This relaunch made me think that the main publishers are taking entertainment pretty seriously for 2008.

Sites such as Perez Hilton and TMZ have definitely shifted the way we pry into the lives of movie stars, b list celebs, heiresses etc and the success of Perez Hilton in particular (91,000 AU users according to Neilsen Netview, December 2007) have shown that people now expect gossip to be reported in a different way.

They want it instantly, quickly and easily digestible. Most importantly it needs to be visual - video and slide shows. They also want the editorial to have an opinion - they don't just want AP feeds and Reuters reports. For evidence of this check TMZ and Perez, as well as the local version of the excellent Defamer - http://au.defamer.com/

Interestingly when you look at the top Entertainment sites across the major players (excluding Yahoo as they still don't allow third party site side measurement - ie Neilsen), it's the ones that are doing the above that are finding success.

The Fix - http://thefix.ninemsn.com.au/ - is flying with 699,000 UBs already in the first week of January. The average session is over 2 and a 1/2 minutes - the lead amongst the big players.

News Entertainment - http://www.news.com.au/entertainment has had just over 255,000 UBs so far in January. However they are doing only 53,000 on average per day (compared to 144,000 for The Fix)

Fairfax's flagship entertainment properties (http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment and http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment) are hitting 276,000 and 171,000 respectively. Brisbane Times is sluggish with just over 14,000 UBs so far (around 2,000 a day)

So why is The Fix working ... well lets go through the above again ...

- It is instantly and quickly and easily digestible.

- Most importantly it needs to be visual - video and slide shows.

- They also want the editorial to have an opinion - they don't just want AP feeds and Reuters reports.

On top of the gossip/news that draws people in, Fix has loads of depth across film, music, dining out etc ... which makes it sticky. They also have outrageously strong SEO for their review content across yourguides which would be delivering strong UB numbers. They also have the relatively unique luxury of three absolute beasts of traffic drivers - Hotmail, Messenger and the ninemsn homepage.

Personally, I think for Fairfax and News to catch up they need to look at doing the above - showing some opinion in editorial (which Fairfax does well with blogs and reviews) as well as strong visual content. Yes, gossip isn't really Fairfax's core strength, and I am sure they are happy with their numbers ... but News as a business is built on this sort of content ... so it will be interesting to see how they look to leverage their pedigree in this area online and adapt their content and editorial style to how people wish to digest their voyeuristic content nowadays.

Begs the question - will the right (read new/incremental) advertising dollars follow the eyeballs?

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