Media and marketing initiatives to boost News in tough market

• Michael Miller on dollars, digital and data at Come Together 2019

As Mediaweek reported yesterday, Michael Miller, News Corp executive chairman, is leading his team at the Come Together 2019 presentations underway in Sydney and soon heading to Melbourne.

“We are taking clients on a journey of exploration to show the new products we have created to deliver more effective campaign results,” said Miller.

“By combining the smarts of data and technology, with the creativity of our trusted content, we are showing clients how they can work with us and our engaged audiences, to deliver better outcomes for their brands.”

The presentations started in Sydney on Monday evening and there will be something like 20 presentations before the formal showcases end. Miller and members of the leadership team Damian Eales and Lou Barrett speak pre and post event.

But spare a thought for the executives at work, live, in the different category presentations. They present five times each session for a total of 15 presentations each day of Come Together. (Some executives are lucky enough to do make their showcase contribution on video.)

Hedley Thomas, Edwina McCann, and Michael Miller Come Together 2019

During the first full day of Come Together, Miller spoke live with Mediaweek on the Your Money channel.

Recapping the start of the current financial year, Miller started: “We have had a good first six months of the year. The SMI figures indicate that as a category, print has had a good first six months of the year.

In the first few months of this year the market definitely feels like it is tightening and getting shorter. We have a good pipeline of activity, but with a combination of the Banking Royal Commission, housing prices and recent retail figures there is a degree of conservatism. The elections typically see some conservatism, but there are more factors at play. It is becoming tougher out there, more than the first six months indicated.

“We are optimistic that after the NSW state election and then the federal election in May, we will see a stronger June and second half leading into 2020.”

When asked about the split of revenues at the publishing business between print and digital, Miller noted it was a sector still in transition. “Digital is taking a bigger share every year. The newspaper brands we have, providing trusted journalism, are seeing greater engagement at the community level where there is less competition for information about your suburb, about your school, about your sporting club and the issues when it comes to elections.”

The challenges with advertising revenue the publisher faces mean its diversification of revenue strategy becomes even more critical to success.

Miller said: “Subscription revenue, as our December results showed, is way up. We are very happy how customers here and around the world have a greater propensity to pay for great content. Our subscriber levels are up 20% year-on-year, which is what we planned for.

“Our business continues to migrate from being less advertising reliant and more consumer revenue reliant.

This Come Together event shows we are not just about media and advertising solutions. We are moving more into being a marketing services, not just media services, provider.

“We have many assets that are marketing related, not just advertising related and they are the conversations that Come Together initiates.”

News Corp Australia had 24 announcements to share with its guests this year which were spread across five different category groupings with a couple sprinkled into the pre and post-show addresses.

See also: Come Together 2019: News Corp Australia’s biggest ever showcase

Fiona Nilsson presenting at Come Together

Miller said one announcement in particular he is proud of is the work News Corp Australia has done around data and its data advertising solution News Connect. “After building a solid foundation we now have 1600 different segments you can plan against. That allows us to have category specialist offerings like Food Connect, Fan Connect, Travel Connect and so on.

“That makes it easy to transact and on top of that there is a self serve functionality we are launching which allows people to plan, buy and transact on our platform.”

The company is also looking to better leverage its Foxtel, Fox Sports and Sky News Australia assets. “We will be able not to just offer digital, data, and content solutions, but also broadcast as well as print solutions to reach more Australians depending on what their needs are.

The publisher and broadcaster is also offering exclusivity around coverage of different sporting codes with an advertising solution labelled Code Block. Miller noted they will approach the official partners of various sports first before putting the offer to the wider market.

“An advertiser will be able to own a sport, with a category exclusive. There has been a lot of interest in this and some of the categories have already gone after just the first day of Come Together.

“Australians are great travellers and always have been,” said Miller about the Travel Connect category that is attracting readers and advertisers in growing print and online sections and verticals.

“Visiting new destinations around the world and having great experiences is part of the Escape proposition. It is not just a holiday.”

Top Photo: Michael Miller and James Manning

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