News Corp's “quantum leap” into new realms – but what does adland think?

By Pippa Chambers and Sarah Homewood | 31 July 2015
MD metro & regional publishing at News Corp Australia, Damian Eales, and director of national sales at Newscorp Australia, Sharb Farjarmi

Fresh from revealing its new juiced-up offerings around content, data and programmatic at last night's News Corp upfronts, we cornered some media and creative agency bosses, and the newly promoted MD of metro and regional publishing Damian Eales, to find out more.

If you weren't there, or the cinnamon-rimmed cocktails flowing at the Fox Studio event erased the best bits, the 'Come Together' event saw News Corp unveil a slew of alliances and ventures in front of a power line-up of blue chip CEOs, CMOs and creative and media agency bosses.

Headlining the announcement was news of a Quantium partnership, the creation of content and marketing unit News Corp Studios and the introduction of a private premium trading exchange, MBX, combining the digital assets and audiences of News Corp with MCN, which represents Telstra’s digital network among other publishers.

News Corp's Quantium Leap

CEO at Match Media, John Preston, was among many an agency boss to attend the event and like others, commented to AdNews that this year's event was a “quantum leap” from last year's.

“I think most people walked away from last year’s presentation thinking News were being very protective of their content and legacy print offering,” Preston said.

“Last night they showed that they are indeed a progressive digital ready, mighty publisher of content with a firm eye on the future. They are meeting both consumers’ needs and advertisers.

“They have taken the necessary step to make it easier for advertisers to access their three pillars of  the content, data and programmatic. They also lobbied hard their point of being a distributor of content at scale, which you can’t argue with. For me  last night’s pitch finally made sense of what “Come Together” means to advertisers.”

Executive director of technology, digital and content at Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), Jason Tonelli, that SMG is excited by the steps which News Corp are making in the programmatic and the precision marketing space.

“The fact that News Corp are aligning deployment, content and data shows their focus on the precision marketing space and that they want to great meaningful connections between brands and consumers – and we are encouraged by these steps forward and look forward to working with News Corp on these new initiatives,” Tonelli said.

CEO at OMD Australia, Peter Horgan, said last night was more of a cultural shift for News Corp and it was notable in that the newspaper assets were barely referenced.

“It was far more about News Corp's portfolio of assets and how they can be deployed for business outcomes for clients,” Horgan said.

“It’s a cultural shift at News Corp. Even the people that were on stage were engineered to reinforce that cultural shift. Last year’s upfronts from News was a reminder to “don’t write us off”. Last night was more substantive. News is investing in products and rather than them sitting there saying ‘we’re still here’ they’re saying ‘hey we are effective’."

A clear statement of intent

CEO at Omnicom Media Group, Leigh Terry, said the event hit off all five of the “key opportunities and challenges in planning at the moment” - including programmatic, content marketing, mobile, video and enhanced (buyer) data.

He went on to say that the upfronts were “very slick” and was a clear statement of intent with Peter Tonagh saying publicly that's what he and the team will be judged against delivering .

“They wanted to get scale and certainty across and the production of the event and how they all delivered it hit the mark. The era of apology is over,” Terry said.

“A publishing and content business of scale is as far from a declining newspaper business as you can get.”

Quantium director Tony Davis said News Corp has demonstrated that it is far from “just an old style press business”, but is now “a true multichannel player,” operating in the age of information.

“The era of advertisers and their agencies jumping aboard the new paradigm of reaching relevant audiences, better qualified in their product category, is upon us and these are exciting days indeed.” Davis said.

Co-founder of creative agency Archibald Williams, Stuart Archibald, said the tie up with Quantium was an “extremely smart” move.

“It's every direct marketer's dream. The day has come now where to marry transactional with real data it's nirvana. Once they get some great case studies out of it it will be fabulous, he said.”

He said News Corp really listened and nailed it with what the market wants.
“The market needs better targeting and one to one. Those big numbers were fantastic; ramming home the 7.2 million was a winner. Agencies creatively are desiring new formats in terms of mobile so I think the ad space offering was a big winner.”

What's MBX about?

Speaking to AdNews on MBX, national digital sales director at MCN, Nick Young, said MCN's philosophy behind entering into this joint venture is to establish an exchange for premium inventory within “brand safe” environments, with the aim of creating an additional demand stream within our programmatic offering, above open exchange trading.

“The purpose of the exchange is to assist advertisers to pinpoint highly engaged digital audiences, at scale, within premium environments,” Young said.

“It creates an additional layer of demand that provides advertisers with additional opportunities to access premium, digital inventory.

“We are already seeing a significant shift from advertisers in the programmatic space to premium environments. This exchange will provide an additional opportunity for advertisers to easily trade through one platform.”

Speaking to AdNews at the event, Damian Eales said as a media company its News' responsibly to take its message to the market and remind customers how they can add value to the business.

“It's incumbent on every brand and every business to constantly remind their customers as to how and the new ways that they can add value,” he said. “We've got to do that job everyday, to constantly talk to our customers about ways that they can reach their customers through our organisation.”

Eales said it's not surprising that the three categories of programmatic, data and content are recognised internationally as the three biggest growth areas of marketing spend across the world, and as they are all in significant demand by agencies and advertisers –this is why its has put significant revenue growth targets on each on of those businesses.

“I've been a marketer for many, many, years and you can do lots of little campaigns that target hundreds of thousands of customers, it takes just as much time to do that little campaign as it does to do a big campaign and if you're going to have a genuine impact on your revenue line you have to form that one-to-one relationship and you've got to do that at scale – and I think we've demonstrated that tonight.”

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