News Corp embarks on digital subscription drive with journalists at heart of campaign

News Corp has today kicked off one of its biggest marketing campaigns in years with the relaunch of its tablet apps used as the catalyst for a major digital subscription drive.

The media firm is investing $5 million in the campaign – a figure which doesn’t include internal channels – with News Corp pushing the “quality and integrity” of its journalists and columnists as a key reason to subscribe.

TV ads, created by Archibald Williams which won News Corp’s creative account earlier this year, will air from Sunday with public transport commuters the key target. The commercials will be supported by outdoor, search, mobile-focused digital marketing and cinema, with the slogan ‘Extra Extra’ underpinning the campaign.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 3.08.19 PMNews Corp Group marketing executive Damian Eales, who lists David Jones and Westpac among his previous employers, described it as “by far and away the biggest campaign I have worked on in terms of media value and the opportunity to grow our base.”

“We see this as a catalyst to significantly grow our digital subscription,” Eales said. Growth targets have been set but he declined to reveal figures.

News Corp claimed in April it had topped 200,000 digital subscribers, a figure which included non-news properties such as fantasy football league Supercoach. The company at the time said that made up a “very small proportion” of the tally but declined to give a detailed breakdown.

The marketing campaign will focus on News Corp’s metro newspapers, including the Courier Mail, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, following the relaunch of new tablet apps. The advertising drive excludes The Australian which already has a tablet edition and was the focus of a separate campaign earlier this year.

Damian-Eales-2-234x293Although tablet apps have previously been available to download, Eales said the new versions represent a “step jump in terms of quality capability” that will offer a far more immersive experience for readers and greater opportunities for advertisers. The apps have never been marketed before, he added.

Subscription rates for the digital ‘Plus’ packages will remain unchanged, Eales said.

“The tablet apps will be a key component of our subscription offerings and are far removed from anything we have had in the market place,” Eales said. “We see the apps as being a major improvement in the experience that our customers will have with our business and our content. They will significantly improve the valuation our customers put on the overall proposition.

“And significantly if will be a major improvement for our advertisers and give them the opportunity to communicate with their customers using a canvas that is far more compelling than a traditional digital media canvas.”

Eales elaborated by explaining how advertisers will be able to take advantage of Access One, an initiative that will see ads taken from the print publication and replicated, free of charge, in its new iPad editions. The ads will display across the entire screen with brands having the ability to create a more interactive experience.

“It’s very rare in a digital sense that you take over the whole screen and that’s a very powerful concept as an advertiser,” Eales said. “Where the magic exists is for advertisers to say that’s a great starting point but I want to create a different version of the ad that includes video, a link to the website and which has transactional capability. That’s where the opportunity exists, not just for us as a media company but for creative agencies and the advertiser.”

He denied readers would get irritated with full screen ads, insisting that “great creative” will capture the attention of readers.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 3.10.57 PM“I don’t think it will hack off consumers. If they don’t want to spend time with that ad, it’s one more swipe and they are onto the next page. That’s why agencies live or die by the quality of the messaging.”

He added that readers typically spend far longer on The Australian app than other digital content while in the UK, consumers even spend more time on tablet apps than the print edition of newspapers.

“That is quite significant for us as it says people find it an engaging way to consume our content. It’s not an in and out experience they have on a typical website,” he said.

The marketing campaign will focus on News Corp’s journalists and columnists with Eales claiming they are the point of difference between News Corp and other media firms and publications.

The TV ads, which are in the final stages of production, show a single commuter on a train with a tablet, with many of the writers then appearing in the carriage as the reader flicks through the app.

“There are other sources of news available to our customers, from our major competitor to a raft of new entrants and it caused us to look at what differentiates us from all the other players. What we have focused on is our journalists, they differentiate us,” he said. “What is at the core is the quality of news and opinion from people who our readers value.

“The bullseye target customer are those travelling on public transport and intuitively that makes a lot of sense. Ten years ago they were actively reading newspapers and today they are not. They are using smartphones and tablets and a high proportion are consuming news content.”

The ads also feature the appearance of a handful of non-New Corp writers, but who are the subject of much coverage, including New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.

Steve Jones


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