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March 14, 2017

Sir Martin Sorrell on why advertisers should put their money in newspapers

By Dominic Ponsford

The chief executive of the world’s largest advertising company, Sir Martin Sorrell, has said his clients should not overlook the particular benefits of newspapers in the rush towards Facebook and Google.

In piece first published by the Sunday Telegraph and shared on Linkedin the WPP boss sets out the challenge facing newspapers saying: “The long-term decline in the sales of printed newspapers is now matched by falling commercial revenues as advertisers look to digital channels for greater reach, precise targeting of individual consumers and the ability to trigger an immediate purchase.

“Most publishers’ own digital dreams have yet to be realised, hopes of building a large-scale online advertising business fading as Google and Facebook gobble up the large majority of incremental digital ad spend.”

But he said that opportunities are presented for newspapers by the flaws in Google, Twitter and Facebook and accusations they provide a forum for fake news and hatred. This “ought to increase public appetite for more traditional, reliable news providers”, Sorrell writes.

He also raises concerns over the extent to which digital ads are viewed by by robots and the risk that online ads appear next to offensive material.

Sorrell says: “News brands (the print and digital manifestations of newspapers) are seeking to use all of this to their advantage, positioning themselves as trustworthy sources amidst a sea of digital misinformation, and as responsible gatekeepers for advertisers.

“Our own media investment business, GroupM, which buys advertising space on behalf of clients, is platform-agnostic, offering neutral advice to help companies meet their goals. Part of that role is to make sure clients fully understand the particular benefits of newspaper advertising.”

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And he cites research by Newsworks revealing that newspapers can increase the effectiveness of an advertising campaign by 300 per cent.

“Studies worldwide show that people are more engaged when reading a newspaper than they are when using social media, an important consideration for advertisers seeking consumers’ attention – and access to their wallets.”

He adds: “Advertisers benefit from healthy news brands just as society as a whole benefits from them. They are more than a way of reaching customers; media scrutiny of business, however uncomfortable that may be for those in the lens, makes for a more efficient and transparent corporate world.

“For all their failings, newspapers are an essential component of public life, with a value that goes far beyond the commercial. Few chief executives – even those who have been on the wrong end of a headline from time to time – would argue with that.”

Read Sir Martin Sorrell’s article in full.

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