News Corp talks up digital credentials and promises to become easier to work with

Farjami at last night's Come Together event. Picture: Toby Zerna

Farjami at last night’s Come Together event. Picture: Toby Zerna

A programmatic play, a content marketing studio and a data partnership were the three  major commercial initiatives unveiled at last night’s News Corp’s ‘Come Together’ upfront-style event.

The evening saw the company look to strike a new position in the market, playing up its digital assets with scant mention of its print products, other than as part of its portfolio of “strong brands”.

New metro publishing director Damien Eales pledged to make it easier for agencies and marketers to work with the company’s sales teams with one point of contact across assets, while the company also pledged a new focus on innovation.

Current News Corp chief operating officer Peter Tonagh, who is set to succeed Julian Clarke as CEO later this year, told the audience the presentation was effectively “my new job description”.

“My commitments to you are clear. To grow and protect our trusted brands, to continue to build large genuinely engaged audiences through our unmatched journalism. To constantly innovate across all platforms and all technologies, and of course to help you connect with those audiences with certainty,” he said.

On the new role he said: “Rather than a challenge, I see it as the single most exciting opportunity in the media industry today. I see it as an opportunity because I know we have all the fundamentals right.”

Talking up the new commitment to innovation he added: “You can expect to see more of us on a day to day basis and expect to see us benefit from our position in the global News Corp group. We’re very proud that we’re a global company with an Australian heart, and it gives us a potent mix.”

news corp advertising lab logoAs part of its innovation push the company also unveiled its new News Corp Advertising Lab, with M&C Saatchi CEO Jaimes Leggett sharing the case study of how the agency had worked with it to roll out the new Lexus ‘Heartbeat Car’ campaign this week across its assets, claiming it had achieved 10.3m impressions.



Premium exchange

News Corp’s programmatic play has seen it partner with Multi-Channel Network (MCN) to create the Multi-Brand Exchange (MBX). It will bundle the company’s metro and regional mastheads, and other online properties such as Vogue, GQ and Taste along with MCN digital assets which include Telstra websites.

The private advertising exchange is said to have a collective reach of over 10m Australians and aims to offer a programmatic solution that delivers reach, accuracy, quality, certainty and brand safety.

Sharb Farjami 4News Corp has committed to the MBX offering premium inventory coupled with premium placement, however speaking to Mumbrella on the side-lines of last night’s even tat Fox Studios in Sydney, News Corp director of national sales Sharb Farjami declined to comment on exactly what that means for advertisers.

“We’ve committed to including premium placements, we’re clear on what they are. Until we talk to our customers I wouldn’t say what all those are, it will depend on the clients and the customers but yes there will be a difference,” he said.

News Corp’s move into programmatic with its MBX came on the eve of the launch of Fairfax and Mi9’s APEX mobile exchange, which News Corp and Multi-Channel Network had originally been involved in. Farjami  admitted the two platforms are probably “fairly similar”.

“I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I think the fact that premium publishers with engaged audiences are coming together and creating private programmatic exchanges, that’s a good thing. I support them doing it,” he said.

On MCN now aligning itself with News Corp in the MBX after pulling out of APEX, Farjami said there’s an “obvious synergy on a corporate basis” for the two companies to work together, with News indirectly holding a large stake in MCN through its wholly owned Fox Sports network and its 50 per cent stake in pay-TV giant Foxtel.

“It’s an easy conversation for us to have,” he said. “We work with each other in other areas, we understand each other.”

Data play

News Corp CEO Peter Tonagh , MD of metro and regional publishing Damian Eales and Farjami  Picture: Richard Dobson

News Corp CEO Peter Tonagh , MD of metro and regional publishing Damian Eales and Farjami
Picture: Richard Dobson

Last night the publisher also unveiled its partnership with data company Quantium to match its offline data on people with its scientific profiling audience targeting model News Connect, which has been in a testing phase for the last few months.

The Qunatium partnership will make see Quantium’s bank of data on the offline shopping, travel and purchasing habits of eight million Australians made available to advertisers along with News Corp’s data which the company says covers seven million readers.

When asked if News Corp will partner with any other data companies Farjami said there are no current plans.

“For us we’ve been focused on working with Quantium, it’s similar to MBX, it takes some time to get these things together. Data in particular is a very specific part of the industry, we have to be very careful with it, both ours and Quantium’s,” he said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and effort poring over what we can and can’t do with it – we’re very clear on what that is. Again when we go out to our clients we’ll begin to talk about what that looks like in terms of beta and alpha testings across different audience targeting and segment testing.”

News Corp also unveiled its content creation and marketing solution News Corp Studios, a move which Farjami rejected as the company playing catchup.

“These are things we’ve been doing to a certain extent. For us it’s bringing it all together,” he said.

Content studios

The announcement of News Corp Studios follows on from News Corp’s NewsLifeMedia restructuring its sales team in an effort to focus on digital native ad revenue.

Rival publishers The Guardian, Junkee Media and Mamamia  all have native departments, with each company working differently when it comes to the separation of editorial and sales – often referred to as church and state.

“We’re not just going to ask all our journalists to start producing commercial content,” Farjami said when asked on how content from the Studios would be produced.

“For us there are commercial editorial teams, it varies by publisher, by brand, by asset and how we work. The Australian has a way, The Daily Telegraph has a way, has a way, Vogue and GQ have a way – so it varies by publisher how we work with them but we are very, very clear in our guidelines internally on how those two work and what is and isn’t good and acceptable journalistic and publisher behaviour.

News Corp Australia“If it doesn’t work and if you do cross those borders it’s not a good idea,” he added.

The offering aims to help advertisers source, create, distribute and amplify content, skills which Farjami says sets News Corp Studios apart.

“When you talk about ideation, creation, curation, aggregation, targeting, distribution and amplification for me I’d pick out in my mind ideation and creation. I’d say we are some of the best content ideators and creators. I’d specifically pick out curation and aggregation of additional content with Storyful. It is the world’s best content aggregator and curator,” he said.

“Distribution – it’s a scale argument. We feel we have a very strong position to take on distribution and amplification is something News Corp has always spent and is spending a lot of time looking at. We create a lot of content. Every day there are more and more off-network amplification opportunities and it’s something we’re trying to turn our hand to.”

Miranda Ward & Alex Hayes


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