The Times they are a Changin!

3 minute read

Fairfax has done it again! I can remember last year when all I could write about was all the inventive things REA Australia was doing in the Internet space and how Domain was just sitting back taking hit after hit after hit.

Yesterday I received a tip off about a new site that Fairfax had launched. It is called the Brisbane Times and it is an online newspaper that compliments an off-line newspaper.

Only difference is – well……there is no off-line newspaper! You know how I wrote about that silly promotion Channel Nine’s marketing department has come up with and continually drills down our throats? 2007 is Nine?

Well at this stage 2007 is Fairfax as this new site is a master-stroke and ushers in a new era of online sites.

Okay, Fairfax do not have newspapers in many of the major capital cities – Hobart, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, but with this new site it has thrown down the gauntlet and entered new areas with local content, matched with their Melbourne, Sydney and Financial Review online content.

But think of this, they can enter all of these markets with their online newspapers, staff it with local writers and advertising staff, out of small offices and do it in each region for less than 1/100 of the cost of a traditional newspaper.

Then they can market their online products, Domain, Adore, Drive and MyCareer to each region more than paying for the small team in each region.

These regions are dominated by News Ltd and their online/off-line products so we will see some fairly stiff competition. Yes it is not the same as having a newspaper, but it does place allot of pressure on News Ltd and their costly off-line offerings.

It also gives them sensational exposure and lowers the price of online advertising locally for small to medium businesses that have had no choice but to advertise on the incumbents site/newspaper.

Add the impending merger between Fairfax and Rural Press and you have an even bigger coverage across Australia than even News Ltd can offer!

So what can News Ltd do? Well Nothing, News are already in the markets that Fairfax dominates and have thrown tens of millions of dollars at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald’s classifieds only to come away empty handed.

So Roberts continued bedpost kissing – dreaming of Fairfax Digital Department has not left him deserted as I think this is one of the smartest media moves I have seen in recent times.

I just hope they go into other capital city markets and place some pressure on the incumbents. If they do, I think they are on an absolute winner and this can only be good for real estate agents gaining even more exposure….

Over to you News……….

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  • David Rob Slattery
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 7:32 am 0Likes

    Peter – an interesting move – the online world leading offline. Is this a sign of the times and how long until they enter SA and WA?

  • Peter
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 8:23 am 0Likes

    It will be interesting to see if they take all the moves quickly or wait and see how this goes in Brisbane, I would like to see them be even bolder and make the moves into all other major capitals and then into some of the bigger regional centres….time will tell…………

    In this day and age, most news comes from readers tip offs, and I would like to see them involve leaders from different groups within the community to write, such as business, scientific, political, sports writers, religious, community groups etc. But if you have these people writing allow people to make comments just like on here, keeps them on theirs toes!

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm 0Likes


    Remember what Andy Wahol said “They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

    These days Fairfax are certainly moving forward – I don’t see any reason as to why they won’t be moving West to chase more markets. You are so correct in that it will propel their other online businesses.

    My mail – you ain’t seen nothing yet !!

  • snoop
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 8:26 pm 0Likes

    Well done Peter
    Even quoted in AFR Today.
    Good to see an industry blog getting some PR.

  • Michael
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 9:12 pm 0Likes

    Now did you read about the BrisbaneTimes in a Newslimited Publication?

    Had a look at the Brisbane times – but where is the page3 girl….. Now that would create some traffic

    (And for those female variety bloggers – who consider my remark sexist – YEP – but you do get the sports section)

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 9:53 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Guys.

    Here is the difference. For the first 5 or 6 years traditional media players simply spent money to protect their markets, what Fairfax are doing is actually creating new markets and that must be applauded.

    You will see companies that do not change go under, companies that rely on content from others will also fail (Music Stores, Video Stores, Large Cinemas etc) all because of consumer driven new technology.

    I also applaud MR Kirk for getting stuck into what he called ‘fraudband’. It made for very interesting reading.

    As for my publicity and that of this blog. I am more concerned with this blog getting out to as many agents, portals etc than my own personal agenda….

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 10:18 pm 0Likes


    I have forwarded this link onto David Kirk. I have met him on just a few occasions. He is very impressive with his knowledge of online. More so, I would refer to him as being the man who is playing his media cards with impressive style.

    They are building markets that previously to many were invisible.

  • Nick Buick
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 8:55 am 0Likes

    Perhapes I’m not picking up on your sarchasm here or something?

    I don’t get it? Its an online newspaper? So?

    Granted – the net is handy for locating obscure or archived news articles… but as for actually sitting down and ‘reading the paper’ off a screen… why would anyone bother?

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 9:46 am 0Likes

    What is it you do not get Nick?

  • Dave Platter
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 4:21 pm 0Likes

    (I work at realestate.com.au/the REA Group)

    Peter I think I have to come down with Nick on this issue. It’s not really in my field, since we’re in real estate, but I love local news publications. When I travel, I always get the local paper, even if I can’t read the language.

    I was expecting to be wowed. Here are some of the reasons I was underwhelmed:

    1. It’s hardly got any local content on the home page. I did a quick count and found less than 10 of the home page stories were local to QLD. The others were about Indonesia, London, Sydney, dead celebrities, anything but the local news.

    2. On the menu bar there is no link for QLD or Brisbane news. Even if you scroll down to the QLD section on the home page, and click on it, it links you to a national news page that just has Brisbane stories at the top.

    3. The only real reason they could have to exist from the reader’s perspective is to offer superior local content, since they bill themselves a local site. I imagine one person on Blogger could do a better job at covering the local news.

    4. This site is like a newspaper website template. No color, no local connection.

    Sorry if that comes across as harsh, because I respect what they are trying to achieve. I just don’t think they’ve quite done it. Then again, maybe the traffic numbers will prove me wrong.


  • Peter
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 4:38 pm 0Likes

    Well Dave, I have to laugh because the Daily Telegraph runs with “Dramatic New Evidence in the Anna Nicole Smith Autopsy”, yes news of the highest order. Although it does go onto say that they do not know what the new evidence is, although they seem to think it is “dramatic”.

    Hardly any online paper (traditional or otherwise) site runs local content, the majority of it is just sensational news trash!

    Trying to find 10 local news stories on any major site, nope, no-one has done it! The best news site for mine is Google News, followed by ABC News Online…

    Now let’s read on, Tara Reid Karaoke Singing, Brett Lee’s my life in Music after Cricket, lmao…………and these papers, not only News Ltd also Fairfax, want people to read them?

    The thing newspapers have to get through their thick heads, is that young people will never read them, they have too many better things to do….

    So as our 18-24 year olds grow older, newspaper numbers will drop and drop and drop………………….

    And on one day a major newspaper will give away papers for free, only to keep numbers up and advertisers involved….

    The Fairfax Brisbane Times, WILL be followed by a number of other ones, they have registered the Domain names in most major capitals….

    Will it be an amazing success? No, will it increase the awareness of their major national products? Yes

    To me it is a great move, I don’t really care about the content, but I do care about the motivation…..and I will watch the numbers too …with interest…..

  • Dave Platter
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 4:53 pm 0Likes

    Great, Peter. Let’s see what happens. Fyi, there’s a story in the Australian on this topic and they seem to give it a fair airing:


    —“The strategy of having a national news organisation or network but having very deep local positions in the major markets is one that we think makes a lot of sense,” Mr Matthews said.

    But, Dave says, they don’t have deep local content to match the deep local “position.”

    Also, it notes they want to spend $2.8 million on marketing. Plus development costs, which must not have been great as they seem to have pulled the template off the shelf. Still, a big investment. You gotta wonder how much it can really add to their classifieds sales to pay that back.

    Oh, and, is Anna Nicole dead?

    (just kidding)


  • Anthony
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 5:42 pm 0Likes

    I always smile when i see the banter between Domain and REA.

    Then in my twisted mind – i thought of this Marketing Campaign:

    Maybe Dave as PR would like to comment.


    John McGrath
    Leading and Respected Real Estate Agent
    Chief Executive of McGrath Real Estate
    Chairman of Website: http://www.realestate.com.au

    Chooses to Advertise his clients properties on DOMAIN

    Domain – the choice of leading Real Estate Agents across Australia
    (even when they are chairman of our major competitor)

    Oh i really like this – 🙂

  • Nick Buick
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 6:10 pm 0Likes

    I just think the idea of making a local newspaper online would have been cool in 1991 – but… the times, they are a change’n. I want more than just some localised gossip columns.

    I think if you really want to see a quality localised website, check out My247.com.au – a slightly different approach but these guys used to be good mates of mine and I think what they’ve created is astounding. They built a national network of localised sites… from their bedroom.

    Now that’s what I call 2007.

  • Sam
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 6:30 pm 0Likes

    I think John McGrath chooses to advertise on any and all credible web sites because it’s very cost effective and the smart thing to do.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm 0Likes


    I agree a great entertainment site is My247.com.au however, it’s function is not even remotely comparable to that of the BrisbaneTimes. I see the BrisbaneTimes as a platform to not only provide news but to also drive their other online businesses in an state where previously they had limited online and print representation.

    At the end of the day if it delivers additional traffic to domain, rsvp, mycareer, drive, finance, mobile and stayz then – it is an instant success. It is low budget and it will be interesting to see what traffic it generates.

    Like many other media companies that need today a comprehensive Australian representation not just on the east coast. The simple fact that this enables Fairfax Media to launch an additional five news outlets certainly provides them with an impressive edge.

    This week I read in Quartile Research ” Wireless broadband technology has seen nearly 400 per cent growth in 18 months, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this week.

    As at September 2006, Australia had a total of 6.7 million active Internet subscribers – over half a million more than in March 2005.

    5.8 million of these were household subscribers, while 826,000 were business and government subscribers.

    This means that your current and future clients are becoming increasingly web-savvy. Agents everywhere are reporting that a high percentage of their buyers have already used the internet to “shop around”, and come along with a shortlist of properties they are interested in.”

    With growth like that I can understand why Fairfax Digital are aggressively exploring new online markets.

  • Anthony
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 7:12 pm 0Likes

    Sam – is it ok – if Domain PR reference your comment.

    I think some of the stuff out of McGrath is exceptional too. I just think it is funny the relationship – and if i was in PR or Marketing at Domain – i would be screaming that from the rafters.

    Especially in markets where they are less strong – because McGrath does provide such a high profile within this industry. (Hint Hint: Brisbane Gold Coast Sunshine Coast – are you reading this Andrew Turner)

  • Elizabeth
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 7:25 pm 0Likes

    Good Evening,

    Is it really the case that “the times they are changing”, or is it about the time that people are realising?

    Is it more the case that everyone is just copying everyone else

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 7:27 pm 0Likes


    McGrath agents advertise on REA too. Where did you come across the statement that “Chooses to Advertise his clients properties on DOMAIN

    Domain – the choice of leading Real Estate Agents across Australia.”

    I am somewhat curious ?

  • Mark Cohen
    Posted March 9, 2007 at 11:16 pm 0Likes

    (I work for Fairfax Digital, at dmain.com.au)


    Domain, Drive and MyCareer are just some of the properties Fairfax owns. While the three pillars of traditional classifieds – houses, cars, jobs – are important they are not all that Fairfax Digital is about. We have quite a lot of web businesses such as the main mastheads – SMH and The Age – we have RSVP in the personals, cracker.com.au in general classifieds (brace yourselves if you plan on visiting their raunchier sections 🙂 , sports sites such as Rugby Heaven, Games sites offering crosswords and sudoku and other puzzles, stayz which is a leader in the privately owned holiday accommodation market, travel sites like Walkabout, and many more. and then there’s all the great stuff happening in New Zealand, with TradeMe which is doing phenomenally well.

    While Domain.com.au is one of the biggest sites at Fairfax, selling us into the Brisbane market is not a primary motivator for establishing the Brisbane times. I have nothing to do with the product, but I would nonetheless have to disagree with Dave Platter in that I believe that people in Queensland would still care about what’s been happening in Indonesia and abroad. It’s not nice to think of people from Queensland as ignorant of world affairs 😉

  • Elizabeth
    Posted March 10, 2007 at 10:56 am 0Likes

    Dear Mark – so you are stating that there will be little to no local content on the site? What exactly is it that you are offering that is unique? I am trying to understand what it is you are trying to achieve here.

    Now I do not think that people were stating that geographical locations depict inhabitants worldliness. However if you do want to prove your theory, just look at Mossman.


  • Mark Cohen
    Posted March 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm 0Likes

    Not at all, Elizabeth. From their site:
    Our Brisbane-based journalists will give you a fresh, new perspective on what’s happening in Queensland throughout the day. And we also give you a voice through our forums, polls and blogs on the issues that touch your lives.

  • Peter
    Posted March 10, 2007 at 2:16 pm 0Likes

    Just did a check on all major newspaper sites. All major newspapers in each area the most local content was 9 news stories for the day yesterday, in Tasmania the Mercury had 5 local articles on their site for the day.

    So Brisbane Times is actually as good or if not better than all of the rivals.

    ABC News had the most for each area for each day by a long shot.

  • Andrew Turner
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 9:39 am 0Likes

    HI ALL

    Having one of my co workers let me know that Anthony was good enough to give me a mention i thought i had better check it out.

    My role with domain.com.au is Group Sales Manager for QLD, NT, WA & SA.

    I see a number of bloggers are afraid to reveal their true indentity which is interesting indeed.

    Anthony yes McGraths are a great client to domain.com.au.

    The one thing though especially for the markets that i look after is to show that we are not only strong in our traditional markets of NSW & Vic but have grown to be a true force locally in the other states.

    In Qld the launch of http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au continues to build the Fairfax presence we have locally and that domain.com.au we dont just deliver interstate traffic.

    Like the forum and feedback.

    Have a good day.

  • Peter
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 9:50 am 0Likes

    Andrew, welcome to our little place on the Internet, thanks for the comments and hope to see you back again soon!

  • Anthony
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 10:08 am 0Likes

    I have to say all my dealings with reps and management from Domain and REA has been wonderful.

    I think the people on the floor doing the job at a local level are wonderful.

    Renae/Scott from REA – Andrew/Clive from Domain – Big Ticks Guys

    And my recent exposure to MyHome reps seems a continuation of that.

    To CEO’s of those sites – i applaud the people you select to represent your business. The agents in here give “the portals” a hard time – but behind this are real people doing a great job.

    (Attach this to your salary review guys – especially since – you guys collectively can’t deal with me)

    And as Rolf Harris would say – Keep on Keeping On

    I am still gonna fight the Licenced Nationally – why can’t i advertise angle –

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