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News Plus 4 May 2022 - 5 min read

News Corp corrals factions in bid to best Nine with 16m audience IDs, advertiser match rates, cut Big Tech’s turf; switches on CDP, launches on-platform video commerce play

By Paul McIntyre & Brendan Coyne

News Corp's data duo Suzie Cardwell (L) and Pippa Leary: “Nine has got 14m, Seven has considerably less than that. Even Google and Facebook only claim around that 17,18, 19 million mark. This is going to give us an extremely competitive position."

News Corp has broken cover on its plan to reclaim ground ceded to big tech – and rivals Nine and Seven – in the race for first party data at scale. Touting 16 million IDs and audience-advertiser match rates broadly double what it suggests competitors are delivering, execs Pippa Leary and Suzie Cardwell say the new customer data platform, or CDP, is one of the largest in Australia and its audience data – from across brands including Foxtel, REA, Binge and Kayo – provide visibility that had been sorely lacking. Now the firm will harness that firepower to underpin a video commerce play being backed to drive material revenue growth.

What you need to know

  • News claiming 16m de-duplicated, de-identified IDs, more than rivals Nine and Seven, close to Facebook and Google scale, powered by partnership with data firm Near.
  • States it can deliver match rates with advertiser CRM data of circa 60 per cent, far higher than rivals because News not reliant on audiences being logged in.
  • Transitioning from Adobe DMP to ‘regional CDP’ housing single view of audiences across all News Corp Australia properties.
  • Can also match data via clean rooms for brands that do not want to share hashed data.
  • News also launching on-platform video commerce play, with audiences able to click or swipe to buy products featured in content or pre-rolls without leaving platform.
  • Commerce platform plugs into retailer back-end systems, merchants keep first party data.
  • Near location data plus Flybuys and credit card data underpins online-offline attribution. 

In a rare feat, News Corp has finally united internal fiefdoms in a bid to beat rivals on the scale of users it can identify and match with advertisers’ own data as brands, publishers and the advertising supply chain prepare for upheaval of the digital ad world.

The end of cookies and shifting privacy frameworks present "a generational shift" said News MD of Client Product, Pippa Leary. "The ability to get away with lazy digital marketing is gone. We all need to think about data relationships in different ways."

In an interview with Mi3 as News Corp yesterday kicked off its Decoded roadshow led by advertising boss Lou Barrett, the publisher is claiming 15.7m unique IDs, more than Nine and Seven and close to the scale claimed by Facebook and Google, with first party data combined into a new 'regional CDP' or customer data platform. News said that means it can identify its audiences across all of its properties – whether or not they are logged in – and match them with advertisers' own first party data to drive better returns.

News is also making a major play for video commerce that means audiences can immediately buy products featured in videos – including pre-rolls – without leaving the content they are consuming, or the platform. In a less than subtle dig at tech platforms' penchant for ring-fencing their data empires - a source of increasing frustration for brands - News Corp said retailers tapping its audience base keep the customer relationship and the first party data.

Corralling the fiefdoms

There’s an irony in Leary, a former Fairfax and Nine exec, claiming the divisions within News Corp – including the likes of Foxtel, Kayo, Binge and REA – have been united. But she credits GM of Client Product & Strategy, Suzie Cardwell, with “pulling off this incredible feat” to feed what she bills as a “regional CDP”, or customer data platform, that houses first party from across group properties and creates a single hashed ID.

That means News Corp can now see all of its audiences – whereas before it was left with a patchwork of different data and identifiers across the likes of REA, Foxtel and Binge.

Via a partnership with location and behavioural data provider Near, the firm has built out what it states is a fully consented identity graph covering most of Australia, matching Near’s IDs with News’ own ‘Connect IDs’. These are hashed and can be matched with advertisers own first party data – via a data clean room if brands prefer that route.

Initially, advertisers will be able to match against News properties, with group-wide buys across the likes of Binge, Kayo and REA to follow in phase two.

“That scale of 16 million email addresses matched to our IDs is the real differentiator,” said Cardwell. “Nine has got 14m, Seven has considerably less than that. Even Google and Facebook only claim around that 17,18, 19 million mark. So we reckon this is going to give us an extremely competitive position to be able to say to our advertisers, come and do with us what you're doing with Google, Facebook or Nine, because we've got the scale.”

News is claiming 60 per cent match rates with advertisers’ CRM data as a result, whereas others that are reliant on audiences being logged-in are achieving closer to 30 per cent, said Leary. “The difference is, we don’t need people to be logged in to make the match.”

That means advertisers can target customers across News properties, or suppress those they don't want to target. News is also touting lookalikes, so that it can push advertiser messages to people that have similar attributes to their known targets.

Physical and digital attribution 

Near footfall data, alongside Flybuys and MasterCard data, provides physical as well as digital attribution. 

“Using the Near data and the regional CDP [News Corp’s brands and sales teams] will be able to see if someone's been exposed to one of our ads and then they go into a shop. So they will be able to go back to that retailer and say [target audiences] went into your shop as a result of seeing an ad. That's gold for retailer,” said Leary.

Which is how she said Cardwell managed to deliver political harmony. “They are marketers too,” said Leary of News Corp's divisions. “What we can now do for marketers, we can do for them as well.” Previously, she said News could only recognise about 3m of its audience. “Now we can recognise the lot – anyone coming into News Corp assets – and say to advertisers, they are your customers, or they are not your customers,” said Leary. “That makes our world so much bigger."

Video commerce: Shop, don’t drop off platform

While the likes of Are Media are pushing into commerce, Leary and Cardwell told Mi3 no other publishers are yet ready to launch an on-platform play at scale. News will launch video shopping capability from 1 July, initially across Vogue, Kidspot and Body + Soul as a beta with the broader network to follow.

“The reason we’re launching across those three [brands] initially is because they are very visual and very product-heavy,” said Leary. “So Vogue shows a dress on a runway. You can click on the dress, buy it in your size and have it delivered to you with confirmation email. And then you go on watching the video.”

That happens without sending audiences off the News network, said Cardwell.

“Even with Instagram, which prides itself on creating pretty seamless shopping experiences, you are clicking away from the feed and clicking into a contained site. Here, the interaction takes place while the video is playing. The consumer is never taken away from their experience. For the advertiser, it allows them to create the desire with the immediacy of a video, and give the consumer the ability to act immediately on that desire,” said Cardwell.

“You can also have exactly that shopping experience in a pre-roll video – and that's definitely something that no one else is doing.”

Paul Blackburn, GM of Video, said advertisers could opt for different models in terms of buying both shoppable ad formats and for conversions or sales, tying together brand and performance.

News is also open to models whereby it takes a cut of sales revenue, a similar approach to its affiliate marketing, which Suzie Cardwell said has driven 300,000 transactions and $45m in sales over the last two years. The firm would not commit to a target for its video commerce play. But the indications were that it aims to go well beyond that figure.

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