Watch out Nielsen: SMI to provide Australian-first real time, accurate data across all media

SMI.jpgAustralia's first, independent, real time advertising revenue index, SMI, launched today offering access to independent data across all media every month.

SMI is co founded by CEO Sue Fennessy, a media and sponsorship expert, and publisher Jane Schulze, the former Editor of The Australian's Media section and a media writer for over 15 years.
SMI has struck individual agreements with all Australia's major media agencies to provide, for the first time ever, their advertising revenue buying data to SMI. Those media buying firms include Carat, GroupM (MediaCom, Mindshare, Mediaedge:cia and MAXUS), Ikon Communications, Initiative, Mitchell Communications Group, Universal McCann, OMD, PHD, Starcom MediaVst and ZenithOptimedia.

The ad revenue data is collected every month directly from the media agencies and is pooled to provides an independent benchmark that demonstrated aggregated demand across all media.

SMI has contracted BCC AdSystems, Australia's leading media software business that has existing relationships with all the media agencies, to securely collect and rationalise the data. SMI will then deliver its subscribers with real aggregated revenue data plus deep dive analysis every month in real time.

The SMI data covers all mainstream media, an, for the first time, will reveal Google search revenue, a breakdown of subscription TV channel revenue data, revenue of Australia's new digital free-to-air multi  channels, revenue of the top 50 online publishers and will be the only source of mobile telephony revenue data.

The data can be provided by media owner network, media type and sub type, market type and market, and right down to individual media such as a TV station, digital media vehicle, newspaper, magazine, etc.

"The entire media industry is currently undergoing extreme volatility and suffers from an information void. This creates a proliferation of subjective commentary which often leads to a false trading market," Schulze said.

"There has never been a more important time for accurate, timely data. SMI's data will shed light on the real revenue movements across the media industry for the first time and provide a common trading language."

It was the lack of timely and accurate revenue data that led Schulze to start planning a system that would provide greater clarity to advertisers, media owners, buyers, analysts and fund managers.

"Over the past 15 years, I was constantly writing about an opaque industry - reporting on billions of dollars in a market that was lacking hard data. Arguably this lack of clarity exacerbated the recent decline in media share values," she said.

SMI CEO Sue Fennessy said: "SMI has evolved out of a genuine desire to revitalize the media industry. As we emerge from the current economic cycle, media stocks and the advertising market will recover, albeit with a greater mix of media fighting for the advertiser and investor dollar.

"Advertisers, financial analysts and even media operators are challenged as new digital media constantly emerges and further fragment and already complex market."

Fennessy has worked in media for more than 20 years, having launched two business, MM Communications in Australia and Frontiers Group in China, specialising in sponsorship and branded content programming, plus media sales for sports and entertainment rights, including the World Cup football.

Schulze and Fennessy have teamed with equity partner Michael Bartlett at SMI. Bartlett, formerly with Morgan Stanley in New York and London, and more recently a partner with fund manager K2, brings financial market insight and an understanding of how the right data combined with knowledge of a market can be powerful.

"SMI brings an opportunity to re-shape media investment, giving investors in media stocks the knowledge and security that the revenues of these companies are solid, and without real demand data we do not have that level of comfort," Bartlett said.

Australia's largest media buyers have welcomed the launch of SMI.

Mitchell Communications Group chairman Harold Mitchell said: "In my experience of recessions, it is the preparation for the upswing and investment in finding new opportunities that dictates success. SMI data can help you uncover those business opportunities."

GroupM trading director James Parkinson: "SMI will deliver increased market visibility on real time demand and trends across all media sectors and vendors. In the current market this data becomes invaluable as we differentiate between market opinions and meaningful data-based trends...An aggregated perspective on overall market conditions provides clarity to the industry and moves us to a more progressive, informed and accountable place."

MediaCom CEO Annie Parsons said: "We are an industry which spends billions of our clients' dollars without total transparency. We give it our best shot, our considered opinion and our knowledge of histroy, but with SMI we can base our decisions on industry facts. Their vision for data plus technology to provide a robust picture across all media I see as real innovation."

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