Programmatic trading the future of media sales

News Corp Australia has appointed Cameron King head of commercial platforms and products and signalled an increased focus on their automated trading platform.

In his expanded role, Mr King, who is also head of commercial innovation for the media corporation, will be in charge of News Corp’s automated ad sales and will report to News Corp digital director of sales and strategy Neil Robinson.

Automated ad sales, or programmatic trading, is the process of executing media buys through a digital platform that is automated – essentially a more efficient and computerised version of traditional sales trading.

Mr King told The Newspaper Works that increasingly, the traditional media sales force will become more data- and analytics-focused and more comfortable dealing with numbers. He said that programmatic ad trading will not phase out traditional media sales teams, but will offer them new opportunities to spend more time being creative.

“[Data and analytics are] capabilities that have always been fundamental to a media sales team, but they’re kind of supercharged with new technology and new capabilities,” he said.

Mr King said that previously the people responsible for programmatic trading were not involved in the mainstream sales effort, and this new role will see him remain in the mainstream sales force, while managing News’ programmatic platforms. He said that the company sees programmatic trading as a way for sales staff to better understand their clients and spend more time being creative, rather than spending time completing menial tasks.

“What we’re seeing is maybe a slight shift in terms of focus, and as sales people are less focused on delivering an IO (input-output), or shifting and shuffling paper from one person to the next, of crossing ‘T’s and dotting ‘I’s, an opportunity exists to focus on more creative solutions and to focus on more client analysis,” he said.

Mr King said that programmatic platforms do not make human interaction redundant and do not operate autonomously without a sales team; “you absolutely need people behind them”.

News Corp Australia is not currently operating at the Australian industry average, based on SMI data, of 10 per cent of digital revenues coming through the programmatic trading market. Mr King is confident with the company’s current programmatic platform and sees its overall use expanding in the future. Mr King says News Corp lags the rest of the market in its use of programmatic platforms as they are mostly used to trade remnant advertising, which is not a huge portion of News’ ad business. But as programmatic enables increasingly sophisticated options for executing premium or programmatic direct buys, Mr King says News Corp will in turn begin to trade more of its advertising inventory programmatically and meet the market.

“I’m very fond of saying the word ‘programmatic’ won’t exist in three years, it will just be called advertising,” he said. “This is a mechanism to transact and it’s a much easier mechanism… [but] the relationship between advertisers and News is still going to be fundamentally the same.”

In terms of the effect of programmatic trading for print advertising, Mr King said that News Corp is not currently operating in that space, but will consider that as an option once it is more comfortable with its automated platform for digital ad sales.

“I think we’d want to see what happens digitally over the course of the next 12 months,” he said.

“We obviously operate a very large print business and I think we’re interested to see what happens digitally before we start actively reviewing what the implications for us might be from a print perspective.”

“But I think what we’re seeing through the increased opportunity to trade digital programmatically, may well bear fruit in our print markets. Digital will be an interesting testing ground for us.”

Rubicon Project is News Corp’s programmatic trading provider and has been with the publisher for around four to five years.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

Leave a comment