As group director of digital product and development, Ms Bowen will be at the forefront of the company’s ongoing integration of print, online, mobile and pay-TV assets.
In her previous role at Dow Jones – publisher of The Wall Street Journal – Ms Bowen played a key role in helping to evolve the company’s analytical and direct marketing capabilities.
Ms Bowen also learnt to respect the power of accurate, unbiased journalism when working at Reuters on Fleet Street and she gained valuable insights about digital advertising during her stint at Thomson Reuters in New York.
These experiences will be invaluable as News Ltd embarks on its journey into paid digital metered subscription with news+ – launched last month – to be rolled out nation-wide.
However, a key observation Ms Bowen has made during her professional career is that news organisations are historically bad at using the power of data to learn about their audiences.
“Every iota of incremental improvement contributes to the progress we need to continue making as an industry if we want to retain a place in people’s every lives,” Ms Bowen said.
Ms Bowen says News Ltd’s rich suite of assets mean the company is well placed to capitalise on growing mobile audiences, which will soon account for nearly half of its total audience.
“Yet, the commercial models are still wildly out of whack with that reality,” she said. “It’s a bit like where the web was 10 years ago. We need to move faster, be more creative and organise with more nimbleness.”
If Ms Bowen’s ambitions are realised, News Ltd’s presence will become ubiquitous, delivering “news everywhere” with recognisable services that give people what they want at the precise moment they want it.
Ms Bowen said: “We’re in a timeshare war. Every time someone picks up their phone, which happens more than eight times an hour for a lot of people, they make a choice about what content or service they’ll engage with. And the phone is just one of three or four connected devices they touch in a day.”
“So many creative and innovative start-ups come through our doors every day, but what they need is the marketing megaphone for building audiences that we have. If we can pair more of those great ideas together with our reach and marketing muscle, the potential is huge.”
Ms Bowen says the process needs to start with clarity of purpose and quality content because “it is impossible to grow audiences and commercial return if you don’t stand for anything”. The second step is to “be where the eyeballs are” with products that work across all devices and platforms.
“The industry can no longer ignore the power of data. We have to trust the numbers and be more surgical in how we apply it to product development, advertising sales and subscription marketing,” Ms Bowen said.
“We’ve begun to learn some interesting lessons about the idiosyncratic use of our digital products by print subscribers. For example, how to make our printed papers ever more engaging with augmented reality features.”
Despite her penchant for digital, Ms Bowen recognises the enduring power of printed newspapers. She says their indisputable ability to deliver results for advertisers and marketers alone is enough to guarantee a lasting place in consumers’ media diet.
“The world is better place for the work done by these brave men and women who risk their lives to tell stories that well-functioning democracies need to hear. That sparked my passion for the essence of what we do and why news matters.”
Despite her impressive curriculum vitae, Ms Bowen says her greatest life achievement is her two daughters and also learning how to manage her career and life as one, instead of as two separate endeavours.
“To be a good parent and an ambitious professional means that ‘work’ and ‘life’ are inseparable and discovering this for myself has made me an infinitely more flexible, trusting and effective leader,” she said.