Qantas says it's a publisher, but it still needs traditional media owners

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 10 September 2015

An airline with a captive audience of 26 million people a year is no longer just a travel player, it’s a sizeable publisher too reckons Qantas’s head of digital and entertainment, Jo Boundy.

The airline, which launched it’s own youth focused travel offering, AWOL, in partnership with Junkee Media late last year, has taken off with Boundy saying the business is able to target a different type of audience with content than it would with traditional advertising.

“We’re a publisher in our own right,” she said. “We have 26 million passengers every year and 10 million frequent flyers, so for us, distributing branded content to those individuals who are a captive audience meets a very different objective to putting out a TV commercial or a print advertisement.”

Boundy was talking on a content marketing panel alongside Bo Thorp, content director for 90 seconds, and Tim Burrowes, content director for Mumbrella, with the panel conducted by Simon Smith, director of content marketing for Fairfax Media.

Smith posed the question: Should publishers be “shit scared” about the threat of brands becoming publishers and walking away from them? Boundy explained that brands won’t be walking away from publishers anytime soon because of their scale.

“Publishers have this massive audience, you can create content but it’s all about targeting and seeding. You’ve got to get that content out there, you can't just put it on your YouTube channel and hope the masses will come,” she said.

Talking to that challenge, Burrowes added: “The big opportunity is the same as the big challenge, there has never been a more baffling and more complicated time to be a marketer than right now, so for publishers if you can actually come up with some answers that say we will still help you shift your product - because that is what concerns the marketers - if you can work out how to give them an answer, that’s the big opportunity."

Another challenge for content raised by Thorp is that “there’s a lot of crap” out there.

“We’re being saturated by impressions - that’s a pitfall. That’s a passion point for me. Make sure you do your homework, you probably want to make money, but you also want to reach and inspire a target group with your content - make sure it’s quality,” he added.

When it comes to the data that Qantas is able to collect and then track from it own content, it's currently limited but it may be set to grow. While Junkee Media owns the data from the AWOL site, at present the airline doesn’t do path to purchase tracking over the editorial content, but it's coming down the pipe.

“We do that standard tracking that we do with most of our digital activity, we’re not doing it on editorial we create at this stage,” Boundy said.

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