The Ticker: Modern business life

Why the government needs to heed Murray’s call on credit card surcharges; Australia’s media should be worried by the rise of Adblock and how Qantas silenced the critics and won over investors.

On today's blog:

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2.30pmHow Qantas won over investors

What a difference a year makes. As noted in the first paragraph of its latest Qantas story:

“Alan Joyce has gone from corporate wrecker to national hero after pulling off a historic reversal in Qantas’s economic fortunes.”

OK, perhaps that call is a bit premature. It’s yet to post its promised profit. But positive press and promising analyst outlooks are helping quell investor concerns over Qantas.

They’re certainly helping its share price: Qantas’ shares closed 14 per cent higher yesterday on the news that it expects to post an underlying profit in the first half of 2015. While this latest jump is significant, it’s worth noting that Qantas’ shares have steadily grown in value -- albeit with the occasional stumble -- since the start of this year. 

The trigger for that end-of-year spike is a bit more difficult. It’s been buoyed by improving conditions, but who knows how long they’ll last?

For more on the Qantas turnaround, read the latest from Stephen Bartholomeusz: Calmer conditions help Alan Joyce beat Murphy's Law.

10.40am - Australia’s media should be worried by the rise of Adblock

It seems the media industry can’t catch a break. The rise of the internet knocked it for six and now, just as the revenues of our two major media companies are slowly starting to stabilise, a new threat is looming on the horizon.

By now, you’ve likely heard of Adblock, software that prevents ads from loading with the rest of a webpage. Well, its popularity is on the rise. As this study from PageFair and Adobe shows, its use has grown exponentially since 2009. 

It gets worse. The study also found that the proportion of internet users in Australia who are using Adblock is quite high when compared to other countries. 

The online revenue of most Australian media firms is already shaky.

Most companies are trying to establish a dual revenue model whereby they receive a clip from digital subscriptions and income from advertiser spending. The popularity of Adblock threatens the latter part of this plan, and damages the external confidence in the effectiveness of online advertising.

It’s not unexpected. Australians have become professional ad dodgers, largely because media companies have gradually introduced more and more advertising into our lives without justifying the intrusion. Indeed, this point is the key message of the PageFair report:

“Publishers and advertisers need to do a better job of educating consumers about the costs of content creation to ensure that consumers think twice before blocking ads,” the report says. 

10am - Why the government needs to heed Murray’s call on credit card surcharges

For a jargon-filled investigation into Australia’s complex financial services sector, the Murray inquiry sure attracted a lot of interest from the general public. What’s more fascinating is how it flew under the radar until the tabling of its interim report -- which was released last July.

We can deduce this from the data buried in both the interim and the final inquiry reports. Before the interim documents were revealed, the inquiry received just shy of 200 submissions, most of them coming from banks and other financial institutions. After the interim report was published, the inquiry received more than 6,500 additional submissions. The vast majority of these were from irate individuals who felt compelled to vent their views to the inquiry. 

So, what were they complaining about?

Well, the overwhelming majority used the inquiry as a platform to campaign against credit card surcharges. The report concluded that around 5,000 of the more than 6,500 second round submissions touched on this topic.

To put this in perspective, here’s another graph charting the other major concerns raised in the various submissions:

This data should send a clear message to the government that the public wants action on excessive credit card surcharges. If the recommendation to do something about surcharges is shrugged off as being too difficult to implement, it could trigger a public backlash. 

9am - Interesting reads from around the web

Defining ‘growth’: How the world’s economic growth is actually un-economic.

The only thing companies have to fear is fear itself: How anxiety and stress brought on by fear can reduce worker productivity.  

The business and ethics of ad blocking: Digital ad evasion is now evolving into its own industry.

A renovator’s delight with a low maintenance garden: A handy guide to all of that mind-boggling real estate jargon.

A whole new perspective: Seventeen incredible drone videos that reveal the true capabilities of this tool.

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