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News Corp Upfronts: strikes Quantium data deal, programmatic JV with MCN, opens content “Studio”

News Corp tonight unveiled a slew of alliances and ventures at its “upfronts” event in front of a power line-up of blue chip CEOs from Westpac, Toyota, Harvey Norman, Tabcorp and Jetstar, along with dozens of CMOs and creative and media agency bosses.

Headlining tonight’s announcements at Fox Studios was news of another media company hitching its britches to the data queen, Quantium. News Corp is fusing segmentation on seven million readers with the shopping, travel and purchasing habits in Quantium’s data bank from Woolworths Group customers and NAB credit and debit cardholder transactions under an initiative called News Connect.

Quantium and Facebook announced a similar deal last week. The part-owned Woolworths outfit, laden with actuaries and data analysts, struck its first media venture last year with MCN. If the News Corp alliance with Quantium is similar to Facebook and MCN, there is a likely clause giving it some form of category exclusivity. “This is a game-changing product for all our commercial partners,” said News Corp’s director of national sales Sharb Farjami.

The company’s “Come Together” upfronts event tonight also saw a private premium trading exchange announced combining the digital assets and audiences of News Corp with MCN, which represents Telstra’s digital network among other publishers. Called MBX, it will bundle news.com.au, all of News Corp’s metro and regional mastheads, News Corp’s online “lifestyle destinations” like Vogue, GQ and Taste (once known as magazine titles) and other sites like foxsports.com.au and AFL.com.au.

MBX comes on the eve of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment Co.’s Mi9 officially launching their APEX premium exchange on Friday. These publisher alliances are rapidly launching around the world as historical competitors collaborate to build the scale in data, tech stacks and audience targeting they need to compete with global tech-led aggregators and platforms like Facebook and Google.

AppNexus global president Michael Rubenstein – who’s technology underpins the Fairfax-Mi9 APEX premium exchange – was in Australia this week warning that “Google and Facebook may just take over the internet, in which case independent publishing is dead, journalism is dead and AppNexus is dead.”

Rubenstein told the Financial Review on Monday there was “no question the biggest challenge that all media companies are thinking about right now is how do they continue to succeed and thrive as independent companies in the face of companies coming from Silicon Valley like Google, Facebook and Apple increasingly asserting more and more control over distribution and the economics of the industry.”

News Corp’s director of national sales Sharb Farjami claimed MBX offered “access to more premium environments than any other programmatic offering.”

The third major unveiling tonight was News Corp Studios, a new “content and marketing” unit. Studios will use News Corp’s $25 million acquisition of Irish start-up Storyful to identify and license leading user generated content along with News Corp’s archives and talent to “create content”. “This team can author bespoke native content and create videos, podcasts, photo galleries, infographics…” Farjami said. “We can also facilitate access to Australia’s best talent, help form partnerships with this country’s biggest events, custom publish, and thanks to the biggest and best media network in the country, we can distribute and amplify branded content on an unrivalled scale.”

30 July 2015
Paul McIntyre, AdNews

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