Just five months after launching in Australia, the Flossie Media Group (FMG) has announced it will drop display advertising from it’s network of women’s websites from 1st January 2010.
In a statement issued to the media on December 1, CEO of the Flossie Media Group, Jenene Crossan Freer, blamed changes in the online advertising market for FMG’s failure to fill advertising spots across the network. On the same day, FMG also announced the website founded by Crossan Freer, NZgirl.co.nz, would be re-establishing itself independently from the Flossie Network from 2010.
All of us here at Australian Women Online had high hopes for Flossie, but we saw the writing on the wall back in October and jumped ship in early November when our six month contract with FMG was coming up for renewal.
After a short period of a higher than average fill rate, we began to see too many in-house ads being displayed on our website – a sure sign that the ad network was in trouble.
A more recent and troubling sign is that payments to publishers that were due on 30 November, have been pushed back to mid-December 2009.
By launching it’s ad network at the height of the economic downturn (July 2009), the Flossie Media Group chose the worst possible time to make the move across the Tasman. Although Australia has come through the economic downturn relatively unscathed, the market for online display advertising, which is heavily influenced by what is happening in advertising networks in the United States, hasn’t rebounded anywhere near as quickly. Furthermore, in comparison to the rest of the world, the advertising market in Australia is quite small and like most things down under, online display advertising is dominated by just a few large corporations.
So when Jenene Crossan Freer said it was difficult for FMG to compete with the large scale deals being offered to advertisers by the large networks, she was absolutely right.
From 2010 the Flossie Media Group will be offering advertisers more one-to-one communication with the audience – which means more advertorials on Flossie’s websites, more solus emails and advertising in newsletters.
“We know we can deliver engaging one-on-one communication within the niche communities of our publishers. As a great example of how effective this communication channel can be, $1000 spent on display would drive on average 100 clicks, whereas the equivalent spent on a newsletter would drive 600,” said Jenene Crossan Freer.
Over the next few weeks Flossie will be meeting with key agencies to showcase the new newsletter and content network. However, it remains to be seen whether Flossie’s new advertising model will actually bear any fruit, particularly after the mass exodus of publishers from the network is complete.
But our major concern is what will become of all those publishers, especially the small operators, who now find themselves without an ad network.
Australian Women Online has received an unconfirmed report that all Flossie publishers have been let out of their contracts with FMG, which in some cases, would have required publishers to remain with the network for a period of up to two years.
Jenene Crossan Freer said, “Our publishers currently within the network are hugely supportive of our strategic change and we are working with them to make recommendations on the appropriate network partners to take on their display advertising ongoing.”
I would like to know exactly who Flossie considers to be an appropriate network partner for display advertising in Australia.
One possibility is the GLAM Network, but they have experienced similar problems to Flossie, in that their advertising fill rate for their Australian websites has consistently fallen below the industry average.
Many of Flossie’s Australian publishers have been approached by the Fairfax Digital Network (FDN).
I was advised by Flossie Network Manager, Eric Rowe, to rethink our decision to sign up with FDN because it requires publishers to commit to the network for a period of 12 months. However, when you consider FMG wanted publishers to commit to their network for 2 years (many publishers refused to do so), I don’t think Flossie is really in a position to criticise on this point.
Australian Women Online has decided to stick with the Fairfax Digital Network for the foreseeable future. In our first month with FDN we earned more revenue from display advertising with the Fairfax Digital Network, than we did over the entire five months we spent with Flossie. Now I ask you, who can argue with those figures?
Alongside the other changes to the network, the Flossie Media Group will be relocating their head office to Sydney, with only a sales team remaining in New Zealand from January 2010.
Tee Twyford from the Flossie Network has been appointed as General Manager/Editor of NZ Girl and the office for NZ Girl will continue to be based in Auckland. I like Tee Twyford and NZ Girl couldn’t be in better hands.
But you have to wonder how Flossie expects to succeed when their own CEO doesn’t appear to have enough confidence in the network to keep her own website attached to it.
No matter how much of a positive spin Jenene Crossan Freer tries to put on it, Flossie appears to be entering some dangerous waters. Let us hope FMG doesn’t hit an iceberg before their CEO can turn it around.
To read Jenene Crossan’s reply to this article visit the url https://australianwomenonline.com/right-of-reply-from-jenene-crossan-ceo-of-flossie-media-group/