Brave face at Brave New World

Despite shedding its online advertising arm, WebMasters, it's 'business as usual' at Brave New World according to CEO Frank van der Velden.

Despite shedding its online advertising arm, WebMasters, it’s “business as usual” at Brave New World according to CEO Frank van der Velden.

The company is letting 10 staff members go and isn’t replacing several others who have resigned in the past two months.

“WebMasters represented websites from an advertising point of view and that’s been very tough. We were there longest and in the end it was a decision not taken lightly,” says van der Velden. At the same time the decision was made to “outsource all our media requirements as well”. A third party will place ads for clients.

In addition to these changes Brave New World has also lost out on its deals with search engine AltaVista’s New Zealand business and Hitwise, the online usage monitoring service.

“They were both only agency roles anyway, they weren’t a big deal,” says van der Velden.

AltaVista Australia is looking for a new New Zealand agency to handle advertising and marketing arrangements.

“We were disappointed to hear about WebMasters closing down because the guys at WebMasters were doing a good job for us,” says Australia New Zealand managing director for AltaVista, Mel Bohse. “But I guess having one good site probably isn’t enough to facilitate a business.”

She says a replacement sales company will be announced in the next few days.

“It’s a new entrant into the New Zealand marketplace, but one who knows what they’re doing strategically with online.” Bohse says there’s no reason why New Zealand online advertising can’t do as well as Australia albeit on a smaller scale.

Hitwise, meanwhile, followed Paul Hashfield when he left Brave New World last month. Hashfield will concentrate on running Hitwise’s sales effort here in New Zealand along with its ongoing attempts to increase the number of ISPs it has on its books to provide data on surfers’ habits.

Van der Velden says the failure of online advertising itself isn’t the reason for WebMasters’ demise - rather that advertising in general is weak.

“There’s no difference between advertising online or in print or on TV. All of them are soft at the moment, it’s just that online advertising has been hit the hardest.”

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