News Corp’s Julian Delany on managing News’ digital brands

Latest learnings from being applied across News DNA network

After being recently promoted to managing director of News Corp Australia’s News DNA, Julian Delany was a guest of Mediaweek TV on Sky News Business last week.

After announcing his appointment, News Corp Australia’s chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield said: “When I moved into my role as chief digital officer earlier this year, News DNA needed someone to lead the division through its next evolution. I’m very pleased to announce that Julian Delany has been appointed managing director of News DNA. With his track record of delivering category-leading sites such as I know the growth of News DNA is in very good hands.”

Delany was speaking on Sky News Business with James Daggar-Nickson and James Manning.

How have your duties changed?

I have been in charge of and our women’s brands for some time. The big change is taking digital responsibility for the metropolitan mastheads – not only metro titles like the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser, but we also have a very strong regional presence across Australia with our community and local brands. It is very early days and I am looking forward to the challenge.

How will you integrate content from those print properties into News DNA?

The strength of our digital properties is the brand strength of each of the titles. It would be mad not to use that brand strength and knowledge in a digital way. The change is that News DNA brings together product, production, delivery, commercial integration and marketing so that we can make the most of the incredible content that is produced by those brands every day. The content is the hero of everything we do, anywhere at News Corp, let alone at News DNA.

Will you have to step back a little from

It was not only a big focus for me, but it was almost like a child. I have had over four years specifically focused on and stepping away is one way to put it. It remains in my remit and remains a massive part of News DNA – both from an audience and a revenue point of view. While I am stepping away from it, I am still in it. There are things we have learnt at that we are hoping to bring across into the other brands I have taken on. I don’t want to get too far away from for both personal and professional reasons.

Are the business models for News Corp Australia print properties settled?

It is settled as far as the digital model is concerned. It is clear that The Australian and the metro brands will remain behind a paywall and that will remain free. What might change is how we make the most of the content we are creating. What is the content that people will pay for and what is the content that is perhaps more commoditised? Getting that balance right is something we have already been working on, but using analytics and the capabilities of the teams we have will let us make an informed decision. What goes behind the paywall is where the immediate focus is. The models won’t change, but what will change and what is evolving, and not just at News Corp but everywhere, is making sure we put content that is valued behind the paywall. That could be flexible on different days and change regarding what type of content is being unearthed by our well-resourced newsrooms.

What are the trends regarding things like mobile and homepages?

I have been saying this internally for some time now – the migration to digital by Australian consumers has by and large taken place. The total amount of traffic being consumed digitally is starting to plateau. The growth rates of the past few years have started to drop. At the same time mobile consumption is still rising. The challenge now in digital is making people consume more of your content, improving your share of audience. That puts more pressure on not only the people creating the content, but the people who are creating the product and the experience behind what consumers are seeing. The focus for us is to get more of someone’s time when they come to our brands. Engagement is what we are focused on, not just reach, which is what we might have been focused on a couple of years ago.

Will you now be spending more time in meetings?

Yes, I am. But we have some amazing talent at News Corp in digital and we are making sure we are being efficient and customer-focused to deliver outcomes that really matter. I am adjusting my duties…there is nothing wrong with meetings as long as they are short and something actually happens.

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