Ooh ! No .

New Zealand Marketing - - Feature -

A pro­posed merger be­tween Aussie outdoor gi­ants, ooh! Media and APNO fell apart in May af­ter a state­ment of is­sues was re­leased by the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Commission (ACCC). That state­ment in­di­cated the Aussie reg­u­la­tor viewed the merger nar­rowly in the con­text of the OOH in­dus­try, not as part of the broader ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try as a whole, as ooh! and APNO con­tended. “The loss of com­pe­ti­tion could re­sult in in­creased prices for ad­ver­tis­ers, or lower lev­els of service, qual­ity, or innovation,” the ACCC said in its state­ment.

In an emailed re­sponse to NZ Mar­ket­ing, ooh! Media CEO Bren­don Cook said that he thought the ACCC’S po­si­tion was “sur­pris­ingly ad­verse.” He wrote: “The ACCC took a nar­row def­i­ni­tion of the market and one that we do not be­lieve re­flects the cur­rent and rapidly chang­ing media land­scape. The ACCC has said that the likes of us don’t com­pete with any­one other than other out-of-home com­pa­nies and that our prod­ucts al­low us to bun­dle in ways oth­ers can’t.” As a re­sult, the boards of both com­pa­nies de­cided to step away from the merger.

The merger would have likely had lit­tle im­pact on the New Zealand market, where ooh! is a much smaller player than it is in Aus­tralia (although it is expanding its foot­print), but the ques­tion of how to de­fine the in­dus­try is a compelling one, none­the­less, in an era where media is both in­creas­ingly frag­mented and the lines be­tween chan­nels is in­creas­ingly blurred.

Cook had harsh words for the reg­u­la­tors, blast­ing them for an inability to see that media own­ers aren’t just in com­pe­ti­tion with own­ers of the same type, but with dig­i­tal chan­nels and, in par­tic­u­lar, the Googles and Face­books of the world. “So, we don’t agree with the ACCC po­si­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “But we don’t want to spend six to 12 months ed­u­cat­ing the ACCC or in court, es­pe­cially as the media market is chang­ing so quickly, hence our mu­tual de­ci­sion to walk away from the merger, and ooh! tak­ing a de­ci­sion to con­tinue to de­liver on and build out our clear strat­egy that we had been work­ing to for the past few years.”

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