Google, Fairfax join forces in advertising partnership

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 16: New Boss of Google and New Zealand Jason Pellegrino at the Pyrmont offices on September 16, 2016 in Sydney, . (Photo by Anthony Johnson/Fairfax Media)Fairfax Media will join forces with tech giant Google in a partnership that is the first of its kind in the world to streamline advertising and develop digital media products.

The partnership will allow a portion of the day-to-day advertising of Fairfax’s n Metro Publishing business to be booked using Google’s real-time digital platform for advertisers and media buyers. This allows bookings to be automated by computers.

This programmatic platform enables clients to make bookings based on the specific audiences they hope to target, with advertisements then served to different mastheads and verticals as appropriate, through to specific requests such as booking home page banners for a certain time period.

The new approach still allows advertisers and media buyers to work with Fairfax directly across The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The n Financial Review, WAtoday, Canberra Times, Brisbane Times, and lifestyle properties.

Fairfax’s managing director of n Metro Publishing, Chris Janz, said the partnership was about playing to the strengths of Fairfax and not trying to “be everything to everyone”.

The commercial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.

“Google clearly are the global experts on programmatic and automatic trading and programmatic is moving so far beyond cheap, ordinary inventory to actually being a more efficient way to buying and selling media,” Mr Janz said.

There could also be an element of data-sharing, though he said the two companies were yet to work through these details.

Fairfax and Google will also tackle product development, with digital subscriptions to be a major focus.

“One way people are introduced to our mastheads and products is by Google search. Figuring out how we can work together to introduce people to our subscription products is really key,” he said.

This could build on developments from Google that allow search users to see news articles from titles they are subscribed to promoted higher up on the results page.

Google is currently one of the larger companies at the centre of a federal government-directed inquiry into the role of tech giants in diverting advertising away from traditional media organisations.

“If media companies sit back and talk about how their world has been disrupted by new entrants but don’t actively do something to address it, you end up deciding your own path,” Mr Janz said.

Google and New Zealand managing director Jason Pellegrino said the company had been working for a long time with publishing partners.

It’s understood the current arrangement has been under discussion for at least a year.

“This deepening of our partnership with Fairfax allows us to jointly demonstrate the power of programmatic sales by combining Google’s best-in-class technology with Fairfax’s quality brands and deeply engaged audiences,” he said.

As a bespoke partnership, this is a world first between the two companies and is one of the most extensive publisher partnerships for the search giant globally.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood said the partnership would cement the company at the “global forefront of digital publishing innovations”.

“We expect upside performance from this partnership will allow us to make new investment in our journalism.”

The partnership is expected to start in March.

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