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News Corp - On deadline in a digital world

James Henderson | June 7, 2017
As challenges impact newspaper businesses, News Corp outlines how the channel can help instigate change through digital technologies.


Future tech

With a specialist criteria set, Drasutis is focusing on how to fully embrace emerging technologies such as AI, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), in a way that embeds into applicable News Corp brands and products.

For many years, AR/VR were the stuff of science fiction. But now with powerful smartphones powering inexpensive VR headsets, the consumer market is primed for new paid and user generated content- driven experiences - in a market expected to top US$162 billion by 2020.

"But we know we can't just turn up with a shiny new piece of technology and go and use it," Drasutis cautioned.

"It's got to be packaged in a way that shows value to the business and we need to be scalable by design. We can't just run one-off VRs for example, we need to think about how we can make a repeatable process that delivers VR at scale."

With Google and Facebook already on the way, the rise of new, less expensive hardware will put AR/ VR technology within the grasp of a growing number of companies and individuals, such as News Corp.

Specifically, for Drasutis, such technology could be used to enhance the user experience through REA Group, a global online real estate advertising company of which is majority owned by News Corp.

In housing, Australia's largest property website with 4.4 million unique browsers each month, Drasutis said opportunities are rife for exploiting new technologies from a property viewing perspective.

"Today people go to a house or walk past it and see boards outside with an advert," he said. "But what if we could take you on a magical journey and place you in the middle of the house? You can have a quick look around, do a 360-degree view before you've even physically visited the property. We can do that today."

In a move that would no doubt render flattering, and fake, photo- shopped imagery redundant, Drasutis' work with REA Group is just one of many initiatives bouncing around the digital corridors of power at News Corp headquarters in Sydney.

"Photography is also a great example," he added. "Our photographers generate thousands of amazing images on a weekly basis so how can we enable that to be a VR experience for the future?

"Or take voice. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant are becoming mainstream but what are we doing from a product perspective? And even print innovation is key. How do I lift from the paper via AR to enable a video on my phone to be triggered and play? That's on the horizon also."

With new technologies coming into play, Drasutis' core priorities for 2017 are focused on doubling down on video, commercialisation and native, ensuring News Corp has the network capable of targeting new and current customer bases.


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