Interview: Paul Rittenberg, SVP, Ad Sales, Fox News: Fox Fusion ‘Makes Sense’ Heading Into Upfront

When Paul Rittenberg, SVP of ad sales for Fox News Channel and Fox Business News, meets with media buyers to describe Fox Fusion this week, he’ll begin by telling them what the joint sales initiative with News Corp (NYSE: NWS). siblings under the WSJ Digital Network is not: “If anyone wants to ask me about getting a discount on a WSJ ad, I’ll tell them to talk to [Dow Jones Chief Revenue Officer Michael] Rooney,” said Rittenberg in an interview with paidContent. “But if someone wants a multi-platform deal reaching across Fox News cable channels and websites and connecting that to one of the WSJ Digital Network properties, then we can continue the conversation.”

The Fusion concept: As we mentioned last week, Fox Fusion is a new ad sales initiative designed to match up media buys along its cable channels and online news sites. While the deal extends control over some ads, Fox Fusion will not overlap the brands within Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, and Instead, it applies to segments under the news division, such as mobile, and covers sites within the whole WSJ Digital Network (,, and More after the jump…

imageCrossing boundaries: The concept for Fox Fusion developed out of strategy sessions among the heads of Fox TV and digital sales. Former *MTVN* SVP Bob Flood, who was named VP-integrated sales and insights for FNC and FBN in January, helped shape the idea when the team asked him how to match up its online and mobile assets. Rittenberg: “Those properties produce minimal revenue now, but the space is growing … We thought it would be a cool thing to bring to talk to our clients about as we head into the upfront. Also, I speak with Michael Rooney every week or so about what we’re working on — and we both found that there’s substantial overlap with a number of clients we do business with. It makes sense to do a big project that crosses the boundaries.”

An experiment, not a throw-in: For advertisers interested in crossing the lines between Fox’s cable nets and WSJ, Rittenberg promises to devote “a lot of internal resources” in terms of shared research. Apart from that, he’s downplaying any massive revenue goals associated with the partnership. “We’re looking for incremental spending. This won’t be a throw-in to get our Fox News upfront from $150 million to $170 million. There’s other things we can do to achieve that kind of thing. This is really about trying to do something interesting for our clients, eliminate some overlap and learn how we can better tie our traditional and digital sides together in ways that make sense.” In particular, Rittenberg is most interested getting data that shows the effectiveness of the interplay between offline and online ads. “Common sense suggests that there is a lot of interplay between the two. But then, again, we might find that there isn’t. And if that’s the case, I won’t mention it again. But the hope is that we will have research that can accurately tell a client, ‘If you increase your spending on our digital assets by X-amount, it will improve the impact of your TV schedule.'”

No other extensions in the works: Since most of Fox’s other programming aims for a younger demo of consumers than the older, upscale viewers targeted by the cable news websites, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for extending the multi-platform deals outside of the WSJ arrangement. That said, Fox ad sales has tried to match up the news channels with Fox Sports. But since a General Motors ad on Fox News likely would differ from a spot running during a Nascar race, it’s been difficult to forge a connection.