The new division will be led by News International Commercial’s former head of technology Mark Peters who will initially run a team of 10, which is likely to grow head count depending on the success of the unit’s output.
The unit is the latest significant investment in innovation from News International this year, following the launch of its “News 3.0” events and research initiative, as it looks to take a thought leadership position in articulating how news brands are evolving across the board into multi-platform operations.
One of the first projects the division will be tasked with is creating integrated and frictionless advertising formats for the recently-launched seven-day Times app.
Similar formats for behind The Sun’s digital paywall and the relaunch of its iPad app, which is understood to coincide with the beginning of the Premiership football season for which the title has rights to broadcast highlights, will also be explored.
In addition, the team will be working with analytics platforms explore how it can securely combine News International’s own data with that of its “marquee” brand clients in a database or a temporary web format to provide more granular and real-time targeting to advertisers across its platforms.
Abba Newbery, director of advertising strategy at News International, says: “Innovation is constant in the digital space, but it’s not something that we can just let happen elsewhere. It’s incumbent on us as the UK’s largest newspaper publisher to ensure that we’re leading the market in identifying and developing new ways in which brands can leverage value from our editorial properties.”
Separately, News International also recently undertook a project organising its entire 6,800-strong client base into around 30 segments – such as “TV top ups” and “digital avoiders” – so its sales teams can better service its advertisers by their marketing needs, rather than addressing them purely by their business verticals.
Dylan Wyn Pugh, head of strategy at the Times and Sunday Times, who led the project, told Marketing Week News International hopes the move – which combines its own behavioural data with other information from the likes of Nielsen – will help the company have better conversations with the role press plays as part of brands’ wider media strategies
He adds: “The media market has been guilty of just serving the clients that spend the most with them but if you’re looking for growth, the client that spends the most with you now is perhaps not [where most of your time should be spent].”
Dominic Carter, News International commercial director, agrees and says the project, as well as the ongoing restructure of its advertising propositions and sales teams to ensure they sell across audiences rather than by individual platforms, will help the company put its “best foot forward”.
He adds: “We need to work with clients in a much more strategic way. Your business challenge is greater than just press advertising but we can help with that because of our experience and the data we have.
“We’ve not been very good at talking about data or even having enough data in the past but that requirement for us to be good about what we do behind a paywall has helped us really understand our customers properly and help the market understand who they’re reaching.”