Going, going … gone? 2012 AFR job ad review

 

For each of the past five years I have undertaken a
review of the job advertisements placed in the Australian Financial
Review   (AFR) on the last Friday in October.

 

When I completed the

2011 review
, I signed off with the comment After
five years of shaking the ‘ad writing tree’ I think I’ve said all I need
to say on this topic. I doubt I’ll do the same exercise again next year’
.

 

And so it has come to pass. I won’t be undertaking
the exercise in 2012 but not solely for the reason I stated above.

 

It’s for the reason represented by the table below –
representing the history of the number of jobs ads placed in the AFR on
the last Friday in the October of each of the past six years:

 

Source of ad  
2007  
  2008  
  2009  
2010  
  2011  
  2012  
Recruitment agency
63
35
18
18
10
6
Corporate/Government
36
21
20
19
14
5
Total  
99  
56  
38  
37  
24  
11  
 

As is starkly apparent from this table, the ad
volumes in the AFR continue to plummet.

 

Just to make sure my chosen Friday for analysis was
representative, I checked in the AFR on two other Friday’s in this
October. Unfortunately for the AFR (and Fairfax Media  
shareholders) it was still bad news. A review on Friday 5 October
2012   edition saw a count of 11   job ads (5 agency, 6
corporate/government) and the Friday 19 October 2012   edition
contained just 10   job ads (8 agency, 2 corporate/government).
Ouch!

 

How can I do a serious ad review with such a small
field to choose from?

 

As for the mass sacking of staff at Fairfax Media;
how could any organisation not make that tough decision when a key asset
is generating 90% less revenue than it was only five years ago?

 

I seriously question whether there will even be a
hard copy edition of the AFR this time in 2013.

 

The end comes very quickly for an established company
whose business model has not transformed quickly enough to reflect
advances in technology and changed customer preferences.

 

At the end of October 2007, some years after digital
cameras were commonplace (In the mid 1970s, Kodak   actually
invented the core technology used in current
digital cameras),
Kodak was trading on the NYSE at $29 per share. Just over four years
later, on 19 January 2012, Kodak filed for
Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection and obtained a USD$950 million, 18-month credit
facility from
Citigroup to enable it to continue trading.

 

Yesterday Kodak’s shares closed at 22 cents, valuing
the company just under $60 million, less than one per cent of its value
of five years ago, and about 1/10th of the value of
Australia’s largest publicly listed recruitment company, Skilled
Group  .

   

In assessing people it might be wise to adopt the
general principle that past performance is the most reliable indicator
of future performance, but clearly not with companies; especially those
companies that have decades of twentieth century success.

1 Comment

  1. Giles Hunt on 01/11/2012 at 5:31 am

    Ross

    As always an interesting analysis.

    I don't think the AFR has not helped itself in the current climate with its wince-making pricing policy. Fairfax's other publications are much more flexible, but the AFR has continued to charge top-dollar, despite what is obviously a declining market.

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