The story behind APN News & Media’s rebrand

CEO Ciaran Davis discusses engaging audiences out of home

It’s been a busy 18 months for Ciaran Davis, the CEO of APN News and Media, which recently rebranded as Here, There & Everywhere.

Since taking over from former boss Michael Miller, Davis has channelled his energy into moving the company away from its traditional business and making it an organisation that focuses on engaging the audience out of home. And that is exactly what the new name reflects, Davis told Mediaweek.

He spoke to us on the day of the company’s annual general meeting with shareholders, where they agreed on the name change. He’d been talking about the change for much of that day yet when he introduced himself he said, “This is Ciaran Davis from APN/HT&E/whatever. [Laughs] I am still trying to get used to the name myself.”

The discussions to change the name have been going on since October 2016, when APN acquired the remaining 50% share of outdoor business Adshel to have full ownership, Davis said. This was further fuelled by the acquisition of digital publisher Conversant Media (The Roar, Lost At E Minor) and the sale of APN’s publishing arm Australian Regional Media to News Corp in December 2016. ARM was sold for $36.6 million.

“By the end of 2016, as a business we were free from any exposure to traditional publishing,” Davis said. “We’ve come a long way from three years ago when 60% of our revenues were coming from publishing.”

As the business now stands, HT&E has full ownership of outdoor business Adshel, metropolitan radio company Australian Radio Network (KIIS, The Edge and Gold) as well as Conversant Media. These are all properties that engage with consumers away from their home environment.

Davis explained: “When you consider that technology disruption is changing everybody’s media consumptions, particularly in the home, we think there will be a slide in advertising dollars to away from home assets. These include radio, outdoor and digital. We are the only company in Australia who can offer that cross combination of sectors.”

The rebranding of the company – its first since 1992 – costs no more than a few thousand dollars, Davis said.

“We’ve looked at this from two angles. The first angle is from our shareholder base. There is no doubt that the investor perception of APN is that it is a traditional publishing company. That means when you are trying to attract new shareholders to your register or talk up the positive aspects of your company, it is very difficult to do when there are pre-conceived ideas and notions around who you are. From that perspective – the fact that we are not a traditional publishing company any more – it was really important that we looked to rebrand and change our name to reflect the new direction that we have.”

The second consideration was to reflect the move of APN’s business structure from being a holder of media assets to operating them.

“We want to become a tier-one media business in Australia. This means that we have to focus on advertisers, audiences and we have to make sure that, where it makes sense, all of our businesses are working closer together,” Davis said.

The biggest revenue driver for HT&E currently is its radio business ARN, which is currently headed by Rob Atkinson. Davis held the CEO chair of this division before taking on the same position at APN News and Media (as it was then called) in mid-2015.

“ARN is a large profit driver for the business so I intend to be very much involved with it,” he said. “ARN’s experienced three to four years of exceptional growth. Its profits have grown from $35 million to $85 million.

“I am determined to make sure that we get the network to #1.”

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