Fairfax Prestige Group bringing advertisers back to print

Group director Nerissa Corbett on the fight for the ad dollar

Just over a year ago, a team of four was established at Fairfax to look after its premium and lifestyle offerings. This portfolio includes the publisher’s newspaper inserted magazines, leisure pages in the newspapers including Traveller and niche offerings such as executivestyle.com.au and watch-next.com. The Fairfax Prestige Group is headed by Nerissa Corbett, the director of brands and audiences.

“The market is continuously fragmenting. Digital is on our clients’ radar as more of a priority in 2017. However, it really comes back to quality,” Corbett told Mediaweek. “Our newspaper inserted magazine portfolio is becoming increasingly more important as the market continues to fragment. We’ve got strong brands and we’ve also got strong audiences.

“As we continue to fight for the ad dollar, we’re in a really good position in terms of our quality audience and product. But it does mean we have to be more creative and more innovative with the solutions we are coming up with across the portfolio. That’s been our focus over the last 12 months, and it will continue to be for the 12 months to come.”

Corbett and her team work with Fairfax Media’s commercial division, the publisher’s content marketing arm MADE and editorial teams for each title to execute a client’s vision. In a way, the team is the meeting point for the three departments for the brands managed by the Fairfax Prestige Group.


My core responsibility is setting the strategy for each of the brands within our group, ensuring that each of those brands is performing and managing key client relationships,” Corbett explained. “Within my team, the way that we break it up is that I have a brand manager across our premium titles, which are The Australian Financial Review inserted magazines, and I have a brand manager for our lifestyle titles as well, which are Good Weekend, Sunday Life and Executive Style.

In Carat’s latest global ad spend forecast, the Australian advertising market has been predicted to grow by 5.4% in 2016, building on the strength of digital. In the global market, the investment in digital in 2017 is forecast to grow by 90.9%. Meanwhile, the ad spend in newspaper and magazines is expected to drop by 15.7% and 2.5% respectively.

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood has said on a number of occasions that the publisher is focusing on strengthening its brands and offerings in digital.

In an interview with Mediaweek in August 2016, Hywood said: “We are moving from a print-based business to a digital-based business. Three years ago 20% of earnings were digital, and next year that will be 60% digital earnings. It makes those earnings more valuable. Instead of having a print multiple of three times value against 80% of those earnings, next year we will have a 10-15 times multiple against 60% of those earnings.” (To read the full article, go to mediaweek.com.au and search “Greg Hywood”)

However, Hywood also noted that Fairfax’s print brands are still performing strongly for the company and so it is not under pressure to make a quick exit from that business.

Corbett also echoed this point of view, by listing a number of successful campaigns that the Prestige Group has pulled off in the last 12 months.

“One of the things that we’ve focused on over the last 12 months and have had great success with is sponsored content,” Corbett said. “We’ve focused on reversed covers. They are five- to seven-page executions that we’ve worked on with our clients and our editorial teams to engage contributors to create bespoke sponsored content reverse backs for our clients.

“For the first time in the last six months, we’ve done reverse backs across BOSS magazine and The Sophisticated Traveller.


“High quality sponsored content is the way that we are driving further engagement for our advertisers/customers.”

In order to drive engagement with an advertiser’s content, publishers are now looking for ways to place ads in such a way that they seamlessly blend into the newspaper or magazine experience.

Advertisers are also looking to get involved in media-first experiences, Corbett said. They are more inclined to spend when a brand offers to do something different from the norm. For example, The Financial Review Magazine’s first foiled edition was published in December 2015.

“We’ve published two premium gloss editions [of Sunday Life] this year. They were both themed fashion and beauty,” Corbett said. “They were the first gloss editions we’ve published in Sunday Life.

“For Good Weekend, the first gloss edition we published was in August and that was themed design and innovation. In October, we published an arts and culture issue.

“For both Sunday Life and Good Weekend, we are finding the premium gloss editions that we have introduced this year are really driving the advertisers’ interest. We are attracting new premium brands to the title. So it is a strategy we are looking to roll out in 2017.”

Most successful brands and campaigns this year

Asked about this year’s success, Corbett broke her answer down into two categories: brands and campaigns.

“The most successful brands that I have managed over the last 12 months are The AFR Magazine, which grew 19%, and ExecutiveStyle.com.au, which also achieved double digital growth,” Corbett said. “Previously, it was a section within Business in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age websites. We made Executive Style a step-out site at the end of April 2015. We’ve increased revenues across the website by 41% over the last 12 months.

“In terms of the most successful campaigns, I would say the BMW six-page roll fold was very successful. It appeared in The AFR Magazine in the December 2015 issue. The Mercedes cover wrap on our first ever gloss edition of Good Weekend [was also a success].”

Photo: Fairfax Prestige Group team – Angela Tesoriero, Tessa Maughan, Nerissa Corbett, Lauren McIntyre

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