News Ltd to launch digital sales assault

News Limited will launch its first integrated print and digital advertising sales unit in NSW in the next few weeks as it accelerates efforts to make money from its online media businesses. 

News Limited chief executive Kim Williams announced the new division would be able to deliver consolidated audiences to advertisers in Australia’s largest state, backed by the mining and analysing of data from its digital subscription base.

He confirmed that News Limited was working with data analysis firm Quantium to analyse consumer preferences in a bid to provide more detailed information to advertisers. The firm was helping to package up consumer data insights, such as buying behaviour related to airfare purchases. 

The new data will enable News Limited to “create a table of brand affinities” to sell to advertisers. 

This is one of the first times Williams has outlined specific details relating to his company’s wide-reaching restructure, which will see the media giant streamlined from 19 divisions in to five. 

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Williams told the Audit Bureaux of Circulation’s Accountability in Ad Spend conference in Sydney yesterday. “This data is indicative but you can see the potential.”

He said being able to identify subscribers in its Australian newspaper Digital Pass product, which reaches across web, tablet and mobile sites, would make it easier to track online engagement. The new combined NSW ad sales division would, for example, sell its 265,000-strong car-buyer audience in NSW across The Daily Telegraph, Carsguide and its community papers. 

Williams also said News Limited was confident it would introduce new paywall products. “I see a real business in paid content,” he said. “As to the right payment approach in different product environments, we still have a lot to learn from customers. Let me say, though, the issue of paying for content is not something that is controversial within our company.” 

He did concede that paywalls would take a while to gain traction. “This is a long project. It’s a complex thing to change, but change it we will,” he said. 

Williams said the combined market value of Seek, Realestate, Carsales and Consolidated Media was now $7.6 billion, far bigger than News Limited’s traditional media operations – a clear sign the company would focus on building new digital offerings.

This article first appeared in the 24 August 2012 print edition of AdNews.

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