Alumni Update

Keeping up with the latest online and mobile trends

Tim Satchell
Bachelor of Arts (Journalism), 1989
UK Managing Director, Global Publisher, Ole Media Group

Former Commercial Director, Infomedia
Former Head of Mobile, Sky
Former Co-Founder and Managing Director, Online Editorial Bureau

Tim Satchell

With technology and the digital world continually growing and evolving, it can be challenging for businesses to remain relevant online and ahead of their competitors. Former journalist and UniSA alumnus, Tim Satchell, is succeeding in his career as a leading digital communications expert and is currently the Managing Director for the global company, Ole Media Group.

Ole Media Group is a dynamic digital media company specialising in publishing, marketing and advertising in both the online and mobile worlds. The global company guides a range of clients in Africa and the United Kingdom and has plans to expand into the Australian market.

Tim has kindly shared his wealth of knowledge, including his opinions about ad blockers and his predictions for social platforms in the near future - plus what Facebook is planning to do next.

What are your predictions for social media platforms and online behaviour in the future?

Facebook are talking about their platform becoming video-dominated within a few years, a version of YouTube. Instead of hiring more journalists, our editorial hires now are mainly graphic designers to create videos. It is surprising to witness just how more successful our content marketing is on Facebook now that we are using short video clips, rather than only posting headlines with a picture.

I do see social media platforms becoming even more dominant than they are now. Not necessarily just Facebook, millennials are already losing interest in that, but across a range of social platforms.

Some successful new publishing brands are not even setting up their own website, they are establishing media brands within social channels, taking their message to where the audience is, rather than trying to drive the audience to their own site. Facebook are encouraging publishers in this process by becoming less controlling, more sharing, of the advertising dollars.

I can see the logic, but at the same time I don’t want to be the turkey that voted for Christmas; you need to have an independent base and focal point. So it’s a matter of keeping our feet in several camps to reach the widest audience, but not become reliant on others to promote and commercialise content on our behalf.

Our newest brand, PlanetFootball.com, will have its own website soon but for launch we have focused on Facebook and generated over 20k followers in the first two months.

How are ad blocking companies affecting online advertising?

Ad blockers are a pain in the backside. Advertising provides the revenue lifeline that funds quality journalism. People who use ad blockers are going to downgrade the quality of their favourite media brands by drying up their funding.

10% - 20% of readers across our various sites are using ad blockers, which means we have 10% - 20% less budget to spend on journalists and developers.

It’s often said that native advertising is the way to circumvent the ad blockers but I don’t believe a rash of advertorial, blurring the lines between editorial and advertising, is a good thing for readers or the integrity of media brands. Native advertising sales is also labour-intensive and so only works for the biggest media players; it’s not a model that scales down for smaller publishers.

Ad blockers also tell the publishing industry that if we made ads less intrusive that would halt the spread of ad blockers. That’s tosh, of course. Subtle, unobtrusive ads are easily ignored and so generate very little money, so down that route lies the same ruin for publishers.

In any case, users of ad blockers will never carefully analyse each site to decide which meet their personal standards for advertising and which don’t. They’ll just tick a box in their browser that bluntly blocks advertising from all publishers.

To rub salt into the wound, ad blockers are taking money from publishers to whitelist their sites and display their ads even though readers presumably expect their ad blocker to block all ads from all sites. It’s an old fashioned extortion racket rather than a public service: I’ll stop smashing in your grocery store windows if you pay me a monthly protection fee.

Why did you choose to buyout the company from Sky Sports to form Ole Media Group, and what is the main difference between the providing online services in Africa compared with the United Kingdom?

Sky’s purchase of 365 Media included an unwanted 20-person editorial operation in Cape Town. We struck a deal with Sky to take it off their hands and set about tapping into the African digital media market which was in the very early stages then of significant growth.

The biggest difference is the devices used to consume content.

Mobile internet is completely dominant in Africa but the quality of phones and bandwidth is well behind Europe, so video content is yet to take off in Africa. Instead, old fashioned text message subscriptions are a significant part of our business in Africa.

South African ad agencies and operations lag behind the UK in the way they buy and sell media but that works to our advantage, having a foot in both camps. Three years ago we established AddSuite, our advertising business, because we could see that programmatic advertising was quickly growing its share of the digital ad market in Europe and the US, but that it was yet to really catch on in Africa.

In 1996 you moved from Australia to London and co-founded Online Editorial Bureau. What inspired you to leave your career as a journalist and move into this sector of the industry?

I left Canberra, where I had been working as a political correspondent for The Advertiser, after the 1996 election with the intention of spending a year in the UK on a working holiday visa before returning.

I got a job in London with Cityscreen on Reuters and soon got talking with its two owners about creating a new business. We saw an opportunity to provide a one-stop content shop to brands and corporates who wanted to set up their first websites and intranets.

Traditional content providers were not well set up at that time to deliver content to digital publishers, so we worked with them to convert their editorial into digital feeds.

Then we packaged it all together to become a department store for digital content, offering the likes of Press Association, Reuters, AccuWeather, Universal uClick (Dilbert, Garfield) and astrologer Russell Grant.

Our first client was the bookmaker William Hill, for whom we built the most basic of websites. They would fax us their latest odds twice a day and we’d spend hours manually inputting and uploading them.

Soon our main business was working with mobile network operators like One2One (now Everything Everywhere), Vodafone and BT Mobile (now O2) to fill their early wap portals with content and create text alert packages, ie, daily horoscopes and goal alerts for your favourite football team.

So I didn’t consciously choose to leave journalism, I became the commercial guy by default to grow the business and pay the bills. I got immersed in the business and cancelled my flight home.

Will your business come into the Australian market?

Australia is definitely on our radar because it’s such a similar market to the UK.

The most obvious starting point for us is our publishing division because 10% of our traffic derives from Australia & NZ and our rugby, F1, soccer and cricket sites all have a natural audience there.

We have a full-time journalist based in Australia and commercially we have partnered with a Melbourne ad sales agency specialising in sport, Interplay Media. We will look to build that up over time.

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