News Corp reported its full-year results for FY2022/23 last week and revealed the growing importance of digital revenue.
On the News Corp earnings call, chief executive Robert Thomson noted more than 50% of the company’s revenue is now generated from digital products. A major milestone for a company that grew off the back of printed newspapers.
In that call he also revealed that total digital newspaper subscriptions in Australia had climbed 10% to 1.1m.
Speaking to Mediaweek, News Corp Australia executive director Michael Miller also confirmed the importance of digital. He added: “Consumer [subscription] revenue is taking a greater proportion of what was client-funded business before.
“While we make some money from cover price and subscriptions, that’s definitely grown with digital subscriptions being a bigger part of most businesses. And that’s where the growth will continue to come from.”
Miller noted that in the past four years, digital subscriptions to news products had grown rapidly from around 600,000 to 1.1m now. “Retaining that audience is important. Also, we are focused on growing those subscriptions toward 2m which is the next major goal.”
Miller added: “That’s going to take a different style of storytelling.”
Along the way, News Corp Australia has been addressing what Miller called diversifying client revenue. “Clients just don’t want media solutions. They want commerce solutions, looking for affiliate solutions. They’re also wanting from their media brands – their trusted media brands – video and audio, solutions.
“Offering clients as many different, relatable but connected solutions as possible is when you get not just a greater share, but you get a better result for your client.”
Giving brands the opportunity to offer a commerce solution has been a focus this year with Lou Barrett taking clients and agencies through all the opportunities during De_Coded 2023.
“We have offered a commerce component for a number of years and it continues to grow. We are adding it to more brands across our portfolio.”
Miller highlighted the work their Intent Connect is doing here with clients in the data space. “It offers first-party data from Foxtel, realestate.com.au and the News Corp mastheads to give a very solid view of customers to provide very unique data profiling and data targeting.
“What we are doing through Medium Rare with Suddenly and Visual Domain, in terms of great commercial content solutions is one part of the business others are following the lead on.
“We have recently launched vertical video and shoppable video which are part of total commerce solution.”
When asked about News Corp Australia learnings when it looks at its international colleagues, Miller said: “The Wall Street Journal does a great job at experiential and events. The Sun has done a great job with audio and there’s more we could do with sharing their learnings.”
The news.com.au giant
Arguably the biggest digital success story at News Corp Australia is news.com.au. Miller reminded Mediaweek about “Australia’s #1 media brand. It’s a much-loved, much absorbed product. The time people spend on it, the audience of 12m+ monthly, is often forgotten. It does such a great job of reaching so many Australians with Australian stories.”
For a product that doesn’t have any paywall, it doesn’t seem to be ad-heavy with messaging that impacts the consumer experience. How does News Corp monetise it?
“There is a range of ways we do that. There is advertising, there is native, video, contextual links. That is somewhere you will see evidence of the total commerce stack. It is the first of our brands to adopt vertical video which is exploding on the back of TikTok and other things we are seeing on social. The client demand for Vertical is only on the up.”
The latest News Corp results spelled out the challenges the company is facing in this market when it comes to revenues. When asked about the outlook, Miller told Mediaweek:
“Short term there is uncertainty about how this year is going to roll out. We need to make sure we are doing the most with what we’ve got. We have great journalism. Are we reservicing it to as many people as possible? I don’t think we are.
“We have great client solutions. Have we told every client about every solution. That’s one of our challenges.”
Miller also talked about News Corp’s GIC – Growth Intelligence Centre. “We are getting a lot more client engagement on wanting insights, wanting data. Senior clients wanting to engage more with editors around tone and what those clients are seeing is happening more.
“Also the comments pages on websites are a great insight to how people are thinking and we look at those very closely to judge peoples’ minds and mood.”