Enero on the up; Pureprofile stands still; TV's lack of ambition; all change in radio; the Facebook logo
Yesterday saw a couple of quarterly ASX updates. The market loves Enero again
Welcome to Unmade on an overcast (but surprisingly warm by Tasmanian standards) Friday morning at Sisters Beach.
It must be spring. The rats have been in the barbecue. The ants have been in the cats’ bowl and a huntsman has taken up residence on the bedroom ceiling. Ah, country life. The cats can take care of the rats. And I’ll have to investigate whether the huntsman is a good ant predator.
Much to my surprise I’m back at my desk. Somehow I didn’t win the $60m Powerball last night.
Happy Eat A Pretzel Day. And for those in Melbourne, happy freedom day.
Today’s writing soundtrack: Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman. I feel like I’m in a Danny Boyle montage.
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Before I get to today’s main topic - yesterday’s financial updates from Enero and Pureprofile, a few other observations.
I belatedly caught up with TV Blackbox’s interview with Seven’s programming director Angus Ross yesterday afternoon.
A piece fell into place listening to the conversation. Across the three network upfronts this year we saw the least ambitious slate of new content I can recall. As a result, Ten’s modest risk-taking with the likes of Hunted and Would I Lie To You?, which I wrote about yesterday, stood out.
But for the most part, the networks have retreated to squeezing as much as they can from existing formats rather than on developing for the future.
At Seven that coincided with the return of James Warburton as CEO with a focus on debt reduction and schedule stability.
Asked where future growth was going to come from, Ross told the TV Blackbox podcast: “We’ve said it, James said it. We, ourselves are out of the programme development business. I find it funny when they say where are all the new formats when people used to give us so much crap for trying new formats, and when they didn’t work you’d get punished. I don’t seem to be able to win. I just want ratings.”
TV isn’t as exciting as it used to be, is it?
Still on the subject of industry podcasts, I recommend the final episode of the Radio Today Tonight podcast which went up yesterday evening.
It featured the swan song of editor Vivienne Kelly and publisher Jake Challenor. Jake has sold Radio Today to the owners of the more staid Radioinfo. They spilled an entertaining (but, I think, legally safe) quantity of beans on the way out of the door.
Yesterday was also a day when it became clear that 2022 will be a big year in radio changes.
During her program yesterday, the redoubtable Fran Kelly announced that she will be leaving the country’s most important radio program, the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast, after 17 years.
And in one of her last exclusives for Radio Today, Vivienne Kelly this week revealed the departure of Kip Wightman from Nova Brisbane after 15 years. The Ash, Kip, Luttsy & Susie O’Neill show has often been number one in the market.
In Melbourne, Gold 104.3’s drive host Gavin Miller will be vacating his number one FM slot.
In Sydney, we already know that Wendy Harmer & Robbie Buck are moving on from breakfast at ABC Sydney to be replaced by James Valentine.
While the ABC does not compete for advertising dollars, it does for listeners. And we’ll be starting 2022 with a lot of audience habits there for the changing.
There will also be more to come.
The frenemy landscape
In the subscription TV world there was also an interesting development yesterday. Foxtel Group signed a new deal with ViacomCBS.
It’s not just a programming deal, which is intriguing enough given that the companies are now competitors - ViacomCBS owns TV Network Ten and streaming platform Paramount Plus, while Foxtel owns streaming services Binge and Kayo. But it will also includes the Paramount Plus and 10 Play apps on the IQ Box, in a sign of the acceleration of Foxtel’s aggregation strategy.
Here and there
Enero on the up
Yesterday, Enero’s share price jumped by nearly ten per cent. Australia’s biggest ASX-listed marketing services company, its market capitalisation now sits at $298m, the highest it’s been since nearly going bust during the GFC when it was still known as Photon Group.
The movement was on the back of a trading update at the company’s Annual General Meeting.
Profits and revenues both rose, helped in part by recent acquisitions, but also out of the existing businesses. And CEO Brett Scrimshaw told yesterday’s AGM that revenues were up 22.6 per cent for the first quarter of this financial year.
It’s worth bearing in mind that while media companies suffered badly thanks to tanking ad revenues during Covid, agencies for the most part did not see the same revenue declines. So the uptick for Enero is not simply based on recovery from a bad year.
Out of the wreckage of Photon, Enero has become a smaller but more focused group, built around three specialities - creative and content; PR; and data and technology.
The company’s flagship is creative agency BMF, while Orchard offers digital creative. Its PR portfolio includes CPR and Hotwire. Earlier this year, the company sold its majority stake in the UK-based Frank PR back to founder Graham Goodkind.
For a marketing business, Enero’s profit margin is high - delivering EBITDA profits of $46m on a turnover of $160m.
But I suspect the element the market really liked was its net cash position of $30.6m. That allows for further acquisitions to improve profitability and for reliable dividends to shareholders.
If I have a question, it’s around whether Enero has the scale to be genuinely global. Although it has 13 offices and 650 employees around the world, 45 per cent of its revenue comes out of Australia. The US, delivers 30 per cent, and Europe the other 25 per cent.
Mind you, the profit contribution tells a slightly different story. The US companies deliver 48 per cent of the company’s profits, while - despite being half the business - Australia only delivers 33 per cent of the profits. The European arm also comparatively under delivers, contributing only 19 per cent of the company’s profits.
The way Enero spends its $30m war chest will be the strongest indicator on whether it really does see a global future.
Meanwhile, the stock market was less keen on Pureprofile yesterday, with the share price falling six per cent after the release of its quarterly update, taking it down to a market capitalisation of $65m.
Like Enero, Pureprofile is Australia based, and has offices in the US, Europe and Asia. It has 165 staff across the world, so it’s not a giant.
Unlike Enero, Pureprofile is yet to settle on what it really is as a company. Its early push into digital panels under founder Paul Chan should have given it a much bigger advantage as programmatic exploded, but the company drifted off course and got itself into debt trouble.
The bailout left lender Lucerne as its major (16.5%) shareholder.
It still feels as if the company’s position is somewhat uncertain. It reported EBITDA profit for the quarter of $1.1m on revenue of $10.2m, which is not a great margin. However, it also said it had $3.8m in the bank.
The organisation went through febrile times after the exit of Chan and the brief tenure of Nic Jones as CEO from 2017 to 2019. New CEO Martin Fils has now been in the role for just over a year.
Pureprofile no longer feels as precarious as it once did, but I’m yet to spot signs that it has figured out its new purpose.
Letters: A new brand for Facebook?
In yesterday’s newsletter, I mentioned that Facebook is reportedly planning to rebrand its parent company and has recently registered the word “Horizon” as a trademark in Australia.
I also shared a logo which Facebook recently trademarked, and mentioned that I couldn’t place what it reminded me of…
Unmade readers had thoughts…
From Ian McClelland:
It's basically the BIOHAZARD symbol (which is fitting). Or a triple Star Trek.
It reminds me of the airbnb logo. The mind works in mysterious ways..also reminds me of the dalgona game in Squid Game.
And from Jack Slade:
Looks like the Airbnb logo spun on its axis 30 degrees.
Reminds me of the classic Arista records logo of the 70's. Or, alternatively but linked, those adapters you used to get to play singles that came without a centre. Am I showing my age yet?
But many had another thought…
In answer to your question... I think its reminiscent of the Chrome logo
It's a triangular version of the Chrome logo.
Ian McClelland (again):
...actually the similarity to the Chrome logo is going to be the biggest issue for them...
The the new FB/Horizon logo looks like a triangle version of Chrome.
Perhaps it’s an obvious take, but the Horizon logo immediately reminded me of the Chrome logo.
But, maybe, the logo isn’t connected to the Horizon part of the story at all…
Simon Crerar (via Twitter)
Apparently this is the logo for Facebook’s Ray Bans companion app
I did reach out to Facebook yesterday, by the way. “We don’t comment on rumour or speculation,” was the comment.
Shifting topics. This week I also interviewed the bosses of ViacomCBS about their plans for Ten.
From Alan Robertson:
Interesting interview. Good approach from Ten, I think.
One thing: Beverley McGarvey mentioned ‘’our audience’’ a number of times and on others occasions gave me the impression there was a ‘’Ten audience’’ as if there was almost a core of people who are exclusively a Ten audience. This is perhaps not what she really meant but if it was, I doubt this very much.
For example, the exclusive viewing to the ABC is less than 2%, but if you survey this question (depending upon how you frame the question) you will get a much higher figure. Probably bolstered by those who want to appear more cerebral than the commercial viewing proletariat. (To get an accurate figure you’ve usually got to mask the real question).
Television audiences watch programmes, not networks. The closest you’ll get to that is probably news programmes e.g. 5 or 6pm news bulletins, not general content. I’ve had plenty of clients call me next day to tell me they were watching, say, 60 Minutes on Channel 7 and their ad didn’t appear. Question/Answer: ‘’Were you watching 60 Minutes or Ch 7, because 60 minutes is on Ch 9’’. The point being, many often don’t know what channel they are watching. They choose programmes.
I’m not entirely sure about Ms McGarvey’s meaning but it resonated in her descriptions of the programming and their appeal. It’s no big deal but it is important to buyers and they’re usually smart enough to know how it works and hopefully what she really means.
Like Faye Dunaway’s famous line in ‘’Network’’, life to her was ‘’a 20 rating and a 20c hamburger’’. But at the end of that 20 rating programme, they scatter to the four networks. It’s where ‘’ebb and flow ‘’ studies came in handy.
Nevertheless, it was a good interview with good clear answers, whether you agreed with them or not.
As ever, I welcome your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the comment button.
Time for me to send this out of the door. I’ve gone past my usual 9.10am send time - my apologies.
Have a great weekend - particularly if it’s your first since lockdown ended.
Proprietor - Unmade