UM to retain News Corp’s digital media buying



Australia’s largest newspaper publisher News Corp is to keep its digital media buying with media agency UM despite moving the rest of its media buying to Mediacom earlier in the year, Mumbrella can reveal.

Damian Eales, managing director of News Corp’s metro and regional publishing, today addressed industry rumours that the publisher was looking to return media buying to UM saying it had made the decision to retain digital media buying with the IPG Mediabrands media agency.

“We always took our mass media business away and Mediacom have that specifically and there is no change to that – it is business as usual,” Eales, told Mumbrella. “At the time we didn’t take away our digital from UM.

“We were considering other alternatives with digital but what we have decided to do is leave our digital business with UM.”Mediacom-Signage-700x438News Corp made the surprise announcement it would be moving its media buying to the GroupM media agency in March, on the day Mediacom went public with the details of an audit into years of misreporting of TV audiences and the admission that the group used “valuebanks”.

The carefully timed announcement was widely seen as an attempt to restore confidence in Mediacom among clients after Foxtel, which is 50 per cent owned by News Corp, moved its account to sister agency Mindshare.

Subsequently another major client IAG also moved its account to Mindshare, while the agency has since seen a series of senior departures including CEO Mark Pejic, finance director David Reid and Sydney MD Geoff Clarke.

All Mediacom staff members denied that their departure were related to the misreporting and “valuebank” controversy. Mumbrella does not allege otherwise.

Mediacom is yet to replace Pejic with Mark Heap Mediacom Asia Pacific CEO “standing in” as local CEO since June. 

When the original announcement was made News Corp made no mention of retaining the digital business with UM, declaring:”In taking its business under the GroupM umbrella News Corp Australia joins its sister businesses Foxtel, FOX SPORTS, REA and Carsguide who are also with Group M companies.”

The company also thanked UM for its work on the business, which it had held since 2012, with Eales in March saying: “We have had a very productive relationship with Mat Baxter and the team at UM over the past two and a half years.

“They’ve done a terrific job on our account, which we are grateful for. We wish them every success in the future.”

Asked about the decision to retain digital today Eales said: “UM are doing a great job with it at the moment and they will continue to hold that business.”

UM today declined to comment on anything related to News Corp.

While News Corp uses a lot of its own properties for online marketing its digital media spend is still thought to be in the millions and focused on driving digital subscriptions to its newspapers and online properties such as Fox Sports.

Nic Christensen 

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