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May, 2024

News Corp cracks data interoperability with new Google and LiveRamp deals; beefs up ‘plug and play’ customer insights in bid to tackle fragmentation, privacy pincer, big tech’s hegemony

What you need to know: 

  • News Corp has gone hard on data at its annual D_Coded roadshow, with managing director of client partnerships, Lou Barrett, claiming News can now counter the industry’s “over-reliance” on “a few tech giants”. ‘Signal gain’ and ‘user-centric’ were the buzz words in a blitz of announcements that the publisher claims will “future-proof” its customers’ advertising strategies. 
  • A beefed-up customer insights platform, Intent Connect was touted by Director of Commercial, Data, Video and Product, Paul Blackburn as a stack-agnostic “plug and play” solution that pipes directly into any existing set-up.
  • New partnerships with Google PAIR and LiveRamp’s ATS Direct bolster the platform’s identity database, Customer Match, with more data interoperability, enabling marketers to integrate their own first party data to match with News Corp’s audience data. 
  • There’s also a new location-targeting feature that for localised campaigns and a programmatic booking functionality that’s been made available to customers Google’s Display & Video platform (DV360).
  • The Intent Connect makeover is rounded out by an AI-supported audience segmentation tool, a new AI chatbot called CAI, and a closed campaign measurement loop, with analytics and booking flows now available in a single dashboard.
  • Elsewhere, News Corp has introduced two new ad formats: Shoppable ScrollX, enabling customers to explore and purchase product via mobile-only full-screen scroll-over ads, and News Shorts, a new vertical video offering that will appear in-article and also on social media platforms via a new agreement with LiveRamp’s Safe Haven.
  • Media buyers liked what they saw.

Loss vs. gain

News Corp is going hard on data in its latest suite of product innovations unveiled at the kick-off event of its annual D_Coded roadshow.

Nodding to the looming privacy regulation overhaul, and the drawn out death of the third-party cookie (one day), the publisher is positioning its enhanced data and targeting offering by flipping the narrative of signal loss to “signal gain” – and claiming some big wins for brands.  

A new and improved Intent Connect – the audience insights unit that News Corp rebadged last year (formerly News Connect) – is central to News Corp’s latest attempt to rein-in big tech in a play that it is confident is fully privacy-compliant.

“We can help you embark on a journey that will help you future-proof your advertising strategy. The old model of over-reliance on a few tech giants limits you in the user-centric era,” according to Managing Director of Client Partnerships, Lou Barrett.

Decked out data 

The revamped Intent Connect platform is set to allow advertisers and their agency partners to directly “plan, book and measure” campaigns across News Corp’s titles within a single self-service ecosystem.

“Advertisers shouldn’t have to settle for fragmented solutions and wasted resources,” said Managing Director of Client Product, Pippa Leary. “We understand that every marketer’s goal is to connect meaningfully with their audience. Now, Intent Connect gives them the power to identify and act on customer intent like never before.”

It’s a “plug and play” solution that can be integrated into marketer’s existing stack, per Director of Commercial Data, Video and Product, Paul Blackburn.

The key message was the new capability for data interoperability within Intent Connect’s identity database, Customer Match. Partnerships with Google PAIR and LiveRamp enables customers to ‘activate’ their own first party data alongside News Corp’s audience to, in Barrett’s words, “create a complete picture of the customer journey”.

Google PAIR is the tech company’s identity solution that allows publishers and advertisers to match first party data to deliver personalised ads. News Corp says it will be one of the first Australian publishers onboard.

LiveRamp’s authenticated traffic solution’, ATS Direct, provides another mechanism for marketers to integrate their data in the News Corp ecosystem to build out targeted audience segments that can be reached across the publisher’s network.

“It’s about giving clients the tools they need to reach and engage their target audiences in a compliant and effective way,” said Blackburn.

Customer Match is one of a handful of new features going live this week after significant investment by News Corp to make its Intent Connect platform more competitive with the major walled gardens.

And like the platforms it’s also aiming to scoop up ad krill in volume via Intent Connect Local, a location-targeting feature that “puts community and local area campaigns in reach”, said Blackburn. General Manager of Digital Revenue, Mark Brownie, said it generates “really powerful insights into local communities. “It’s an entirely new feature that gives you the tools you need to reach local audiences at scale.”

For customers of Google’s Display & Video platform (DV360), there’s a new programmatic buying feature that enables them to request, book and activate directly within Intent Connect. News Corp has also added an AI-powered audience search function, ‘Audience Builder’, and CAI, a new concierge-style chat bot assistant.

On measurement, News Corp has pulled its campaign management functions into a single dashboard that encompasses both booking flows and campaign analytics. It’s also “closed the loop on campaign measurement with a suite of independently verifiable measurement solutions”, per Blackburn. That lineup includes Kantar, Pureprofile, AdGile, Vudoo, Near and FlyBuys.

Commerce push

Beyond the data play, News Corp also used its upfront-style event to launch a couple of new ad formats.

The first of those, ‘Shoppable ScrollX’, pretty much does what it says on the tin – a new shoppable iteration of News Corp’s existing mobile-only full screen scroll-over format, ScrollX. It leverages tech from Vudoo and Bonzai, and can be used with new ‘Buy Now’ segments in Intent Connect, which are intended to capture real-time shoppers while they’re on site.

By enabling audiences to explore and purchase products within editorial content, Brownie said Shoppable ScrollX “[gives] consumers the power to engage on their own terms” and claimed it delivers brand and performance in a single hit.

“We’ve designed the experience to do double duty. The benefit and impact of immersive mobile-rich media, combined with a choice to buy. Shifting brand perception, building awareness and consideration, while also giving those who are ready to purchase a frictionless path to make that transaction.”

News Corp claimed early testing of the format on Google Ad Manager saw a 37 percent higher click-through rate than existing ScrollX ads.

It’s been paired with enhancements to ‘Targeted Time In View’, a feature that allows advertisers to purchase blocks of time with their target audience on a cost-per-hour basis.  The updated solution features contextual targeting and adaptive video streaming.

The ad products are rounded out by in-article News Shorts – a new mobile-first vertical video format. Barrett said the “snackable video ecosystem provides marketers more opportunities to engage customers” within News Corp’s total video suite.

Advertisers will also be able to access the new format, along with News Corp’s first party data, on social media platforms via an agreement with LiveRamp’s Safe Haven in a bid to heighten addressability.

“News Corp Australia’s trusted audiences and first-party data, combined with LiveRamp’s reach, create a unique advantage for brands looking to maximise their video investment. News Shorts and our LiveRamp partnership empower advertisers to achieve signal gain and reach the right audiences with the right content at the right time,” per Leary.

Catching the platforms

Lucy Formosa Morgan, MD of IPG Mediabrands’ Magna, said News Corp’s approach “would’ve resonated with a lot of people in the room”, but stopped short of suggesting it puts data daylight between News and the likes of Nine. She said News’ new capabilities are not “overly new or different” to what agencies are “doing with a number of other large publishers … particularly those with broad ecosystems”.

But she’s encouraging of News Corp’s efforts to “innovate with new ad formats, particularly around ecommerce, which is great”.

More broadly, agencies have suggested the local major publishers are starting to reap the benefits of first party data strategies. Atomic 212 Head of Client Service, Ashleigh Carter, told Mi3 earlier this month that some are now “moving a little more fast than the likes of Google and Meta” in honing data capability.

“We know it’s important to talk to speak to our audiences with really in-depth content, but we want to speak to the right person,” said Carter. “I think [local media companies] are going to have so many more insights into who that is now, because of the data they’re curating themselves, but equally our ability to potentially share our own data to find that audience in more areas.”