Nine consolidates sales team post-Fairfax merger

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 10 December 2018

Nine has revealed the executive line-up, structure and plans for its consolidated sales team in 2019, with Matt Rowley now leading the publishing sales arm, joining from the now-defunct Fairfax brand.

Under the new integrated sales structure, Nine will co-locate all of the 500-plus sales staff from Nine and Fairfax into its Nine sales offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Speaking to AdNews, Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said the roles within the new sales team were based on an aligned strategy with less crossover of roles.

He declined to comment on how many roles within the new sales team were impacted by the news last week that 92 employees would be made redundant.

Nine will also focus on driving specialist roles within each division, being television, digital and publishing, instead of trying to create a team of "generalists".

"When it makes sense for those teams to come together, they will do so but it also will make sense for them to work independently as well," Stephenson said.

"Then when there is the opportunity to create an integrated response, either proactively or reactively, we will lean on 9Powered to respond to those briefs."

Stephenson said under the new structure, the new sales leadership team would then act as "the glue" to bring multi-platform offerings to agencies with a high level of understanding across all platforms.

Bringing print into the fold

Stephenson said there was a diversity of audience that came with Fairfax's assets that creates a deeper advertising solution.

He said the business would now have a broader audience reach that would be "invaluable to advertisers" as they look to create more challenging briefs, he explained.

"From a commercial point of view this allows us to talk to a much broader group of advertisers than what we did prior to the merger," Stephenson said.

"However, the bottom line is our main strategy doesn't change; create great content and journalism and distribute it across every platform to engage audiences and advertisers."

Rowley, who was previously Fairfax's chief revenue officer, will now take on the role of director of sales of publishing. He will manage all of Nine's digital publishing assets, which now includes the sites for The Age, AFR, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WA Today, as well as the corresponding print mastheads.

“Matt’s wealth of experience across both client and agency side, in Australia and abroad, together with his understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Australian marketers, makes him the perfect person to lead our publishing sales teams in-market," Stephenson said.

New appointments and roles

Stephenson, who heads up the new sales teams, will spend the next six months building the teams internally and developing a new culture.

From there, Nine will also look to educate the market on not only the new structure and offering within the market, but how it will continue to evolve throughout the year.

With the process expected to be completed by early January 2019, Nine has also promoted Pippa Leary to the newly created role of director, sales strategy and product commercialisation.

“The merger creates a media business for the future and the opportunity to provide a fully integrated sales offering across television, video on demand, digital publishing and print, all supported by Australia’s richest data proposition," Stephenson said.

“The move will significantly enhance our ability to offer more diverse audiences across new channels and create more powerful marketing solutions around our content that work from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel – something which will be unique to Nine.”

Leary will be responsible for commercial strategy and the monetisation of Nine’s digital and publishing assets. In addition, she will continue to develop Nine’s programmatic sales solutions and take responsibility for the commercialisation of the combined group’s data assets.

Trading as a merged entity from this week, Nine also revealed that it had managed an extra $15 million in cost savings on top of its initial projection of $50m, taking the total worth of the overall cost savings to $65m.

“We have a fantastic opportunity based on our suite of high-growth assets and our unique data proposition to create market-leading advertising solutions for our advertisers. There no is no one better in Australia than Pippa Leary to enable us to do that," Stephenson said.

Lizzie Young continues as Nine’s group content strategy director and will lead the Powered team in the merged business. Powered will include a client strategy, insights and effectiveness team alongside content partnerships, client experience and commercial creative studio.

Nine is not the only team to have a new sales team out in market, with Ten's newly built in-house team set to be operational in the new year.

However, Stephenson said he and the rest of his team remain confident that they have "the best TV and now multi-platform" offering for advertisers in market.

Nine promises to drive that through its expanded 'data lake', which now includes the unique personal IDs from Fairfax customers.

Next year may also see the team continue to grow, with Nine last week revealing interest in purchasing the remaining shares in Macquarie Media, of which it is already a primary shareholder.

Should this occur, Nine's portfolio would also include radio alongside its TV, digital, print and publishing assets.

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