Wilson & Horton has outlined its long-term strategy for Internet publishing — and it does not include W&H’s erstwhile “strategic partner”, Xtra.
The first part of what Philip Crawley, managing director of The New Zealand Herald, flagship of the W&H empire, describes as the company’s “wider Internet strategy and repositioning ... to be New Zealand’s premier media organisation across both print and electronic forms” will be a classified advertising Web site launched later this year.
The site, which will be developed and hosted in-house, will initially carry the print version’s employment ads but will eventually be expanded to carry other categories, and ads from other W&H titles to provide national coverage.
The new focus on Internet publishing seems to have been at least partly driven by new Independent Newspapers chairman Cameron O’Reilly, who is said to be keener on online ventures than his father, Tony, whose company owns W&H. O’Reilly junior was in New Zealand last week discussing future opportunities.
W&H and Xtra have professed a “strategic alliance” for some time, and the four potential domains for the classified service — heraldads.co.nz, heraldadz.co.nz, nzheraldads.co.nz and nzheraldadz.co.nz — are still being hosted by Telecom Internet Services, but Crawley says the publisher’s future alliances will not include Xtra. “We’re not directly doing anything with them. We had an ongoing conversation with Xtra for some time but that did not eventuate in a joint operation. We’ve now got a number of other people wanting to make deals with us on content and delivery.”
In 1996 Xtra was also unable to reach agreement on a joint Web venture with the National Business Review, which subsequently went to Clearview Communications to develop its own site.
Clearview also picked up the job when Telecom Internet Services subsidiary DVP was unable to produce a satisfactory corporate Web site for Wilson & Horton last year. A Telecom spokesman said at that time that the two parties would continue to pursue their strategic alliance in other areas.
Crawley also promises a “revamped” New Zealand Herald editorial site, which, along with the existing Wilson & Horton corporate site, will be developed in-house, rather than by Clearview.
Clearview director Ken Westlake says W&H’s desire to host and develop its own sites “absolutely” makes sense in terms of the publisher’s strategic direction, but he says Clearview will continue to be involved in development and support for the Web projects.
Telecom spokesman Glenn Sowry says Xtra had some informal discussions late last year with W&H but says but nothing came of it.