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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

News Corp unveils online advertising plans

November 27, 2007

The company plans to extend its new advertising platform beyond News Corp websites such as MySpace

News Corp has announced plans to enter the online advertising market, saying it will roll out a platform across its own websites - and sites belonging to other companies - in the first half of next year.

Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media (FIM), said the platform - known internally as FIM Serve - was initially built for MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp, but would ultimately have a broader reach.

"We're well down the path in terms of discussions with some of the other News Corp properties to do ad serving," Mr Levinsohn told the Reuters Media Summit in New York. "Ultimately we'll take the company off network and become an ad network for assets outside of the News Corporation empire."

Mr Levinsohn said that FIM was already in discussions with companies outside News Corp, the parent company of Times Online, and that the new platform could be ready by the first half of 2008.

He added that the platform served only display ads - which account for the majority of the advertising revenue from sites such as MySpace, and that the new venture would not conflict with an existing arrangement with Google to serve MySpace's search ads.

FIM's announcement comes after a wave of frenzied purchasing of ad platforms by internet companies keen to capitalise on the burgeoning online advertising market, which is predicted to grow to $48 billion globally by 2009.

European anti-trust authorities are still scrutinising Google's $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, announced in April, while Microsoft bought aQuantive, a DoubleClick competitor, for $6 billion, in August, and Yahoo! acquired the New York-based ad auction site Right Media in in July.

MySpace also recently announced plans to target more closely the ads it serves 110 million users by gathering information from interests expressed on profile pages, for instance movies or sport.

Facebook, MySpace's main competitor, said earlier this month that it would let users send messages to friends with advertisements attached, advising, for instance, when they had made a purchase online - a move that has been criticised by privacy campaigners.

Mr Levinsohn said that he used both MySpace and Facebook, and that he thought there was room for the two sites to co-exist. "I use them for different things...I think we're seeing an 'uber-user' develop that is using both," he said.

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