Strong growth supports NZME’s approach to digital

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NZME, currently amid the development of an intensive digital strategy, has made another key move – adding the digital editor role to Marcus Forbes’ duties (he’s currently group digital content general manager).

The move comes after the departure of former digital content head Jeremy Rees to join Fairfax Media in its newly established national community titles editor role (

Over the past 12 months, has grown faster than any of the sites in the top 20 most-visited in New Zealand, says NZME group director digital Laura Maxwell-Hansen. “Our digital audience growth has increased 23% year on year, higher than Stuff, Yahoo!, Mediaworks and TVNZ,” she says (referencing Nielsen Online Ratings March 2015).

“It’s strong growth off a solid base and we expect this to continue to rise throughout 2015. NZME’s digital strategy has seen us launch ShopViva* and ShopGreen via the GrabOne platform,, and most recently”

Maxwell-Hansen says resourcing is a “huge priority” with recent appointments for NZME including Andy Wylie as group GM digital ad operations, and Lauren Hopwood (who is responsible for the social media strategy for the group) as head of audience engagement.

“It’s fair to say the strength of our digital audiences is driving us to apply more resource in this area. NZME is a dynamic employer in the digital space attracting very impressive people internationally and in New Zealand,” she said.

Maxwell-Hansen says NZME will be focusing on more digital content initiatives along the lines of the Cricket Fever Hub linked to the recent Cricket World Cup and the PinAPoppy Appeal that supported the RSA and ANZAC Day.

“These initiatives are resonating with the public with almost 11,000 virtual poppies downloaded and $62,792 raised for the RSA in just one week. The public is more connected than ever and the focus of our digital strategy is in response to this.”

Forbes, who began his journalism career as a sports journalist for the Sunday News, has worked for Yahoo!Xtra/Yahoo! NZ since the company’s inception in 2007. He held a number of roles within the editorial team including editor-in-chief before taking over as general manager – media in June 2013.

He began with NZME in March last year and Maxwell-Hansen says he has delivered record digital growth across NZME Radio, with average daily unique browsers and page impressions growing 185%, and in March ZM had four times the page impressions in comparison to The Edge (according to Nielsen).

“It’s rare to have someone of Marcus’ calibre with the mix of digital and journalism experience,” says Maxwell-Hansen. “He is well respected and through his role is across NZME’s digital strategy so is well positioned to oversee the role.”

Herald brands managing editor Shayne Currie said: “The performance of is critical to the success of our overall news offering – providing news, sport and entertainment content when and where people want to access it. Marcus’ input into our digital content strategy will help ensure that we deliver on this commitment. We are looking forward to bringing new talent to the team, and wish Jeremy all the best.”

Maxwell-Hansen also said an executive search is under way to fill the group GM digital sales position vacated by Ben Gibb who has moved to partner company Adshel (as marketing director).

* is a responsive website built “with the audience in mind”. Over the last four weeks, the site has maintained an average of 39,000 weekly unique browsers, heading into April with over 100,000 weekly page impressions. Since launching, Viva’s weekly eDM has seen a 14% increase in subscribers and a 32% increase on Facebook traffic.

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