Daily Mail Australia: 'It's time for us to own our own destiny'

By Sarah Homewood and Arvind Hickman | 15 January 2016
Peter Holder

The Daily Mail is set to take on its own destiny, fresh from announcing it was splitting from its joint venture partner Nine Entertainment Co.

The publishing powerhouse explains the move further aligns the Australian operation with its global one, of being 100% owned by Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT).

Since the spilt, Nine has also outlined intentions to ramp up its focus on video as it prepares to bolster its digital operations.

Speaking with AdNews, managing director of the Australian operation Peter Holder says the publication is excited by the next step, noting it was always in its plan to go out on its own.

"There's no animosity, we couldn't have launched here without a really strong partner and thankfully we had a really strong partner," Holder says. “We've had a great relationship ... it's time for us to own our own destiny.”

Nine Network chief digital and marketing officer Alex Parsons also quashed rumours there was a rift between Nine and Daily Mail Australia, particularly around how Nine was selling the product.

“That's just speculation,” he told AdNews, adding that both parties are “amicable” and “friends”. “All great relationships have a bit of tension, whether it's personal relationships, political relationships or commercial relationships ... but it was nothing out of the ordinary.”

As part of the joint venture, Daily Mail controlled the product, including all editorial, while Nine contributed traffic and sales.

Parsons explains Nine's decision to part company was down to a shift in digital strategy, with a stronger focus on video content.

“Our commercial and consumer interests have evolved over the last 12 months to being around best practice digital publishing, but also heavily aligned towards video,” Parsons says.

Holder explains that as part of the Daily Mail going out on its own, the business is now set to invest in growing its editorial and commercial offerings, however he wouldn't be led on what these investments looked like in terms of the number of staff that would be coming on board.

The Daily Mail Australia currently sits in fifth spot, according to the latest Nielsen online figures. Holder tells AdNews that while the title has gone from having zero audience to being in the top five, there is still a way to go.

“Traffic is something that our leader Martin Clark is on us about,” he reveals. “He is not going to be satisfied staying at the position we are at the moment, it's a competitive market but we've got an enormous resource, which we've always had, but we're now using it at a greater level.”

For Nine, Parsons says the focus is on ensuring its audience can consume the network's content where they want, when they want.

“Right at this minute you can only really watch Channel Nine on the TV," he explains. "That's not where consumers are catching content, they are catching content on all screens. Over the next few weeks and months we will evolve to enable consumers to watch our content on all devices.”

This quarter, Nine is launching its Nine Now streaming and catch-up service, and last year it launched digital content brands Honey (about fashion), Coach (health and fitness) and Pickle (viral online content).

Parsons says consumers can expect more products along these lines, combining video and digital in a similar way to 9news.com.au.

The Daily Mail's editorial team is staying in its current offices, with the business currently obtaining floor space for its commercial offering to ensure it's separate from NEC's sales staff.

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