National editor Alice Stolz on Domain’s print refresh

Stolz discusses how the property brand stands up against competition

A refresh of the Domain liftout was necessary to reflect the hype in the property market, the title’s national editor Alice Stolz told Mediaweek.

“Ten years ago, property was not the sexy word it is now. You only need to look at the front page of mastheads around the country to see that property stories are everywhere. From the interest rates, clearance rates, housing prices, affordability, homelessness and everything – everyone wants a part of this pie,” Stolz said.

Domain was previously included inside The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age as a liftout section, printed on newspaper stock. It became a magazine, printed in gloss, on February 17, 2017. The title is now circulated inside the Friday edition of The Australian Financial Review and the Saturday editions of Fairfax Media’s mastheads in Melbourne and Sydney.

Asked if the team considered launching a Domain supplement inside the Sunday papers, Stolz said: “No, because it is really about Saturday. If this book succeeds and there is room on a Sunday for us to go further into the property lifestyle content, then yes.

“Being circulated inside The Fin on a Friday satisfies the appetite of those diehard fans who want to see what they have to see this weekend. Meanwhile, on a Saturday we have passive buyers who might flick through and think, ‘Gosh, there is an auction down the road from me. I might head down there now.’ They are less obsessive about it than the Friday reader may be. Sunday is a lovely day for lifestyle – I would never say never.”

The refresh of the Domain supplement was overdue, Stolz said. The planning, research and execution of the project took about four months.

“It [the Domain magazine] really differentiates itself from the rest of the sections. This is a game changer for us. We stick out like a sore thumb – that’s what we are trying to do. We want to be a beautiful, aspirational magazine.

“There has been a really heavy digital focus and, up until now, print has had to look after itself.”

Domain’s website and the print product appeal to different segments of the property market. Stolz segments the consumers into two categories: passive and active buyers.

“Print is where the passive buyers begin their search for property,” she explained. “The passive buyers are those who are not actively in the market yet. They might not head to the website to look at what’s for sale in their area. But they may turn to print to think, ‘How can I style my house? What’s happening in my neighbourhood? What does it mean when clearance rates go up and down? How do I make the right property decisions?’

“All this might happen five years before they purchase. Then when they are in the purchasing or the selling cycle, they are very active on our online product.”

Stolz said this is what makes Domain a complete offering. The brand holds the consumer’s hand from the start of their journey till the end.

The Domain magazine is printed as a flipbook. The cornerstone of the new product is local content. Therefore, the magazine in Melbourne and Sydney will be different in terms of the properties displayed, suburb profiles and other like information. The only things that would be shared between the two editions are the lifestyle pages – and only if the story is applicable to both markets.

The lifestyle pages in the magazine open up new advertising opportunities and bring in brands that have not previously associated themselves with Domain, Stolz said.

“There has been a really heavy focus on the residential pages as well as the new development pages with the advertisers. The new book is an opportunity to appeal to more people outside that cycle. For example, utility providers are currently really interested in Domain, along with banks. We also now have clients like Rolex and kitchen brands, who haven’t previously been in the Domain books.”

Competition in property content

News Corp’s REA Group is Domain’s biggest competition when it comes to the fight for eyeballs and the title of Australia’s #1 property brand.

“When it comes to content, we are absolutely #1,” Stolz said. “Content has been at the heart of our business since the company began. When it comes to content we have got it over them [REA Group] in spades. I haven’t seen them doing anything more than having a few bloggers out there in that space. We have a huge team of journalists in the business.”

Stolz also recognised on-stand home lifestyle magazines like Belle, Vogue Living, Better Homes and Gardens and the like as competition as well.

“Because they are monthly magazines and their deadlines are so long, we are never going to see residential agencies advertising in those magazines. But we would certainly like a part of their advertising share when it comes to lifestyle brands in kitchen, home furnishing and white goods.

“I won’t lie, I would love a slice of that.”

Advertising in Domain

Stolz was clear in telling Mediaweek that the covers of the Domain magazine aren’t up for sale, but she said there are different deluxe packages available for advertisers to purchase.

“Being under the mothership of Fairfax, we pride ourselves in our editorial independence,” she said. “No content is sold with editorial approval. All we guarantee is a placement of a review in the book. It’s not too dissimilar to what [commercial] magazines do with their clients and their beauty pages.”

Stolz aspires to having a gatefold cover option available to advertisers: “I would love to get to the point where we have people saying, ‘We’ve got this incredible property. Can we do a gatefold?’”

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