Lou Barrett on challenging year for News Corp Australia clients

Lou Barrett

• How digital publishing strategy and bespoke solutions are helping

As advertisers and agencies set about kick-starting businesses and marketing campaigns that have been impacted or deferred by Covid-19, News Corp’s managing director of national sales Lou Barrett has been reaching out more than ever with her team to the publisher’s customers.

Barrett was one of the several News Corp Australia executives that took part in the recent IMAA 2020 Bounce Back event last month. The independent agencies have had mixed experiences as to how impacted their businesses have been across 2020.

Barrett told Mediaweek: “We have great bespoke solutions we create that we can tailor to their needs. We are very committed to that category and helping those agencies. That’s why we built things like News Xtend which works well for independent newsagencies.

“More than ever we are dedicated to IMAA agencies and we want to really see them get through this year and help them grow their businesses. We have dedicated group sales directors for those agencies in Sydney and Melbourne. They are pretty special for us.”

Among the topics of interest to media buyers was News Corp’s strategy for regional publishing.

“We now have more than 400 journalists in local areas and we are committed to employing more as we roll out our new hyper local digital mastheads across the country,” said Barrett. “The migration of audiences to digital has been quite successful. There are a number of IMAA agencies in those regional areas as well.

“We have invested in local journalism, moving our business to places and platforms our audiences are turning to every day. That will help us better meet the needs of the agency’s customers and our customers as well.

The move to digital in regional allows us to offers things to both readers and advertisers they wouldn’t normally get.

Barrett said News Corp has maintained its regional sales teams during the transition from print to digital. “Jason Scott, our MD for northern NSW, Queensland and Northern Territory, heads up regional alongside News Corp Australia commercial director Belinda MacPherson who is driving the in-market regional sales teams. News Connect has been very helpful with that as well. We know where these people are, we know what they are buying and what they are thinking about buying. Investing in the data with News Connect has really helped us in that space.”

Among the offers now for advertisers is the cost per completed view video solution. “We are selling that in conjunction with News Connect data and it is working really well. There has been a bit of a focus around long form video on BVOD in the past 12 months. People are coming back to short form video again because we are in a space where we have made it really cost efficient.

“There’s also our new Time In View product which guarantees advertisers quality time in front of their target consumer, with 100% of their message in view in our contextually relevant environments. That, or they don’t pay.”

Although Barrett warned us it was still too early to tell in detail about a market recovery in particular spots, she ventured: “Victoria seems to be starting to move.”

Another victim this year has been the travel sector which News Corp’s Fiona Nilsson talked to Mediaweek about recently.

See also: News Corp’s travel passion: The future of domestic & international tourism

Barrett: “So many other media owners have significantly reduced focus on the travel sector. We are very vested in it. We have been running travel industry forums and have had three so far and we will have more.

“We want to get Australians back out there to see more of their beautiful country.”

Among the advertisers that have stuck with News Corp in print and digital this year is Harvey Norman whose daily spreads are impossible to miss.

“Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page was in here recently at News Corp with our CEO Michael Miller and I talking about it,” said Barrett. “Katie won’t do things that don’t work. The money that she has spent in print and digital is working very well, especially their wraps. She’s there all the time and they have just had their best financial result ever.”

But it’s not just Harvey Norman that is having good results from their News Corp investment. Barrett also mentioned Coles and Woolworth’s, Metcash and Chemist Warehouse, and The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi.

“We are benefiting from advertisers coming back to trusted media in combination with our News Connect data offering.”

With every News Connect campaign that is booked, subject to a minimum spend, News Corp is giving the advertisers a brand uplift study. “We can measure the effectiveness of those campaigns,” said Barrett.

Barrett also mentioned what Ed Faith told Mediaweek recently, that News Corp can reach 65% of Australian supermarket shoppers because of the deal with Flybuys and Quantium. “We are also measuring footfall traffic in bricks and mortar businesses via location data from Near as well. We can tell where people are shopping and how many. We can track how many people saw a message across the News Network and then went into a store as a result of that.”

See also: How News Corp is assisting FMCG marketers manage 2020 demand

While News Corp Australia is working with clients on their 2020 Christmas plans, Barrett also emphasised what will be huge this year will be Black Friday/Cyber Monday – November 27 and 30.

“It’s going to bigger than ever. People have been shopping online more than ever this year and retailers are seeing it more and more as an early Christmas trading opportunity.

“We are going to have a big retail period leading into Christmas as people won’t be able to go anywhere internationally. Many will still have money coming in from the Government via JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

“We are well-positioned because our print and digital assets are really appealing to retailers.”

With retail remaining strong for many, Barrett said she expects a staged recovery for travel. “So much of it is reliant on overseas travel which is where a lot of the big margins are. Opening state borders will have a massive impact though with state tourism bodies and domestic airlines ready to return when allowed.”

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