News International plans single unit for online ad sales

LONDON - News International is working on plans to merge the sales operations of its digital properties. The newspaper group wants to bring together sales for its online newspapers, including timesonline.co.uk and thesun.co.uk, and other digital assets it owns, including MySpace.

Sales and other commercial operations for the websites are currently handled by the ad teams at News International's Times Newspapers and News Group divisions. However, as it invests more in a digital presence, News International wants to leverage its digital assets by having a dedicated unit to sell across them.

Clive Milner, the group managing director at News International, said: "It's one of those things we're looking at but there's nothing definite to say at the moment. We are evaluating the situation."

However, Milner denied that News International is searching externally for a senior commercial figure to lead the new unit. He said: "We've got some good people here and don't need to bring in leadership from outside at the moment."

News of the plans follows an announcement earlier this week that the Daily Mail & General Trust is merging the digital assets of its Associated Newspapers and Northcliffe operations.

Associated Northcliffe Digital will be run by its managing director, Andrew Hart, previously the managing director of Associated New Ventures.

News Corporation, News International's parent, has pledged to invest $1bn in internet acquisitions. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp's chairman and chief executive, has also committed to investing in  its existing web assets.

Last year, News International acquired an interest in Asserta Holdings and its UK website propertyfinder.com. It also purchased MySpace for $580m.

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