Newsworks is the marketing body for UK commercial news brands and has a remit to help explain the value to advertisers of working with its members. Here Newsworks chief executive Jo Allan answers our questions about the future of advertising.
You recently held a “Festival of News” at the British Library – what was the thinking behind the event?
The British Library is currently holding the exhibition “Breaking the News” – a retrospective of the last 500 years of news. The thinking behind the Festival of News was to celebrate the vibrant, plural free press we have in this country right now, and the vital role journalism continues to play, and will continue to play as it evolves and grows across existing and emerging platforms.
Why should marketers spend their cash with news brands when so many seem to think Facebook, Google and LinkedIn offer better value? Can news brands ever regain market share lost to the Duopoly?
On the market share question, yes is the simple answer. There is certainly an active interest out there from advertisers. They understand the importance of supporting quality, trusted journalism and the benefits that they can derive from advertising in these environments.
In an era increasingly clouded by fake news, fake accounts and fake profiles, millions more people have turned to trusted news environments. From Brexit to Covid to Ukraine, collectively news brands have seen huge audiences relying on quality trusted journalism brands to inform them and entertain them.
The latest data from PAMCo shows that 47 million people every month read a national new brand – that figure is incredible and rivals the UK audiences of the big US-based tech platforms.
As an industry I believe we need to be more collaborative, more future focused, more celebratory and more confident in our approach. And if we do this I believe we can regain some of the that market share.
Does advertising still have a role to play long term for news brands? Many seem to switching to subscription models?
Our stakeholders all have different business models including subscriptions, but yes, advertising absolutely still has an important role to play. News brands have massively engaged audiences that are hugely attractive to advertisers.
You just have to look at the industry’s All Together partnership with the UK government to see the how effective our industry can be in reaching people quickly, at scale and with the content that matters – against all metrics the partnership exceeded the client’s expectations across the duration of the campaign.
What does the future of advertising look like from a news brands perspective?
I think one big area is partnerships and more cross-publisher collaboration. What we have proved over the last couple of years is that we can work together effectively and that we are much easier and simpler to do business with than people think.
We can now mobilise the entire industry for a client through just one point of contact. We can do this at speed, at scale and with the agility no other medium can rival. We can create bespoke content that resonates with individual readers across 600 news brands, in print, online and across all digital platforms.
If news brands were a brand-new medium boasting a monthly audience of 47 million highly engaged people across all communities in the UK the advertising dollars would quickly follow that trajectory. So, our job as an industry, has to be to continue to change that perception among advertisers, to show ourselves as the innovators, modernisers and pioneers. The very nature of journalism itself is ever-changing and dynamic and we need to bring much more of that to how we market ourselves.
Trust in news brands appears to be spiralling ever downwards – how does the industry turn that around? Presumably trust and advertising revenue go hand in hand to some extent.
This is an interesting area, and one that we are exploring ourselves right now as I think we need to challenge some of those definitions of trust, and how trusted is measured. The claim that trust is on the downward spiral always seems very one-dimensional. For example, if you ask a reader if they trust the news brand they read they are likely to say yes. But if you ask somebody who doesn’t read a particular news brand if they trust the said news brand in question then they are more likely to say no. We will be launching our findings over the next couple of months so watch this space.
In the meantime, if you look at readership numbers, we see huge spikes in readership at times when people need up-to-the-minute trusted information and advice. We saw this with Covid, and we saw this with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Overall, over the last 10 years news brand readership has been growing, and that shows a lot of trust and a lot of brand loyalty.
Why should journalism matter to advertisers?
I’m actually going to cheat here and give you responses from two top advertisers who spoke at Festival of News.
Amy Caven, senior media manager at Boots, said: “We as advertisers want a lot and journalism helps us to deliver that from a media planning point of view. So, if I think about reach, which is often my number one objective in terms of what I want to deliver, I can do that through news brands.”
Richard Warren, director of marketing communications at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We think big news is big news. We absolutely want to be seen alongside big news.
“I haven’t had a discussion about brand safety in a news environment for the past three years. That’s because I am completely confident.”
Press Gazette is hosting the Future of Media Technology Conference. For more information, visit NSMG.live