BSkyB chief to spearhead Engage 2006

The Murdoch family is to give another vote of confidence in the UK’s internet sector, after the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) confirmed that James Murdoch, chief executive of BSkyB, is to be the keynote speaker for its Engage conference this year.

He will follow in the footsteps of Bill Gates, who told last year’s conference that the internet represented the future for all advertising. Gaining big name backers is central to the IAB’s strategy as it seeks to maintain the sector’s momentum towards becoming a &£2bn medium.

“We need to provide more proof in terms of efficacy,” says IAB chairman Guy Philipson, but he claims that most businesses are now convinced of the benefits of moving online. “We don’t meet any sceptics these days. The learners have become converts, and the converts have become experts.”

Murdoch is expected to provide further insights into how BSkyB fits into the wider News Corp strategy. BSkyB has joined in on the convergence trend that is being pursued by many of the UK’s big media companies. Last year it bought internet service provider Easynet, in a strategy that mimics the cross-platform tie-ups between NTL and Virgin Mobile, and Orange and Wanadoo. Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, has become a leading advocate for the internet in the past year.

James Murdoch will be joined on stage at the October event by John Hegarty, chairman and creative director worldwide of advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and Neil Jones, managing director of media agency Carat.

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