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Quality of engagement is “affinity of readership, not digital drive-bys”, says Robert Thomson, CEO News Corp

News Corporation’s quality of engagement comes through its ability to “guarantee quality of content, affinity of readership and not digital drive-bys,” the media giant’s CEO Robert Thomson has said while discussing the future of the newspaper model.

Robert Thomson, CEO, News Corp

Speaking with Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP Global, at Advertising Week Europe, Thomson said that we are in an era that focusses more on quantity over quality and that “how you curate across platforms is still evolving”, with advertisers and readers conflicting over click throughs.

“Quality content is expensive. In the last ten years revenue has shifted from creator to distributor: what we have to do is not reduce the quality but increase ability to monetise the content.”

Raising the issue of native advertising, Sorrell argued that there has to be a third party to evaluate it as the boundaries begin to blur. “That is fine [the blurring of boundaries] as long as it is clear to consumers that it is sponsored content. As long as you have transparency I think its fine. It’s about being creative. Mimicking editorial is not great but embedding native advertising is good for editorial.”

Sorrell also said that he felt that technology in China is further ahead of the technology in the west and that WPP needs to act like “strategic venture capitalists” to find new ways of interacting with people. “We have to take bets. It is so difficult to forecast which direction things will go, but sometimes it pays off.”

He added that issues surrounding data privacy “worries” him and that if you solve the “security thing” the privacy “falls away”.

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