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July 2, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:27am

New Statesman drops programmatic advertising ‘because it doesn’t work for anyone’

By Dominic Ponsford

The New Statesman has revealed that it is dropping all network advertising from its website as Covid-19 has “accelerated a number of trends in business and society”.

The title, which like Press Gazette is part of NS Media Group, revealed today that it has exceeded 30,000 subscriptions (print and online) for the first time in 40 years.

Managing editor Will Dunn said in a post on the site: “Early on in the crisis, we recognised that it would be necessary to concentrate on making our digital products as appealing as possible to the millions of new readers visiting our website each month. We had already removed network advertising for our subscribers in 2019, and reduced it for registered readers, but we recently decided to remove these ads for all readers.

“This decision reflects the major investment that our parent company, New Statesman Media Group, is making in an unprecedented expansion in quality journalism. The group has created a new data journalism team, who contributed to this week’s special issue, and the New Statesman is rapidly expanding its international coverage under the leadership of Jeremy Cliffe, who joined last year from The Economist.”

This week’s coronavirus special issue of the magazine uses data analysis to assess how 14 major economies responded to the coronavirus pandemic and finds the UK’s response lacking. It also includes a survey of 500 business leaders which highlights concern about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the crisis.

New Statesman Media Group managing director Danny Williams said the company was “moving away from relying on display ad inventory, because it doesn’t work for anyone – our readers, our clients, nor, crucially, for us as a business”.

Networked programmatic ads are automatically sold and displayed.

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The move comes as brands seem keen to assert more control over the content they appear next to. In the US the #Stophateforprofit campaign has led to more than 600 brands halting advertising on Facebook because of the widespread hate speech and misinformation on the platform.

Instead, Williams said he believes the future of the company lies in building a highly-engaged readership: “We believe the only way to do this is by fostering high-quality journalism and by significant product development. Right now we are focused on bringing top talent to the business and we’ll have a lot more to say about this in a few months’ time.”

The move away from programmatic display advertising at the New Statesman comes amid a shift away from advertising in the global news industry.

Last month, the Telegraph announced plans to close its branded content division Spark with the loss of around 100 jobs.

Recent hires by NSMG this year include: former Evening Standard digital publisher David Tomchak, former head of data journalism at Reach David Ottewell, former Immediate Media product director Laura Jenner and former Metro digital director Martin Ashplant.

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