News­pa­pers need to give ad buy­ers what they want

Campaign UK - - NEWS - GIDEON SPANIER Head of media gideon.spanier@hay­mar­ket.com @gideon­spanier

Whin­ers are not win­ners, Robert Thom­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of News Corp, says.

But the UK news­pa­per in­dus­try looks more like a whiner in a mar­ket that shows no sign of im­prove­ment on a year ago.

Print ad rev­enues keep fall­ing at a dou­ble-digit rate and digital growth has slowed as money con­tin­ues to shift to Google and Face­book.

Times must be tough be­cause the Daily Mail won’t be rent­ing a yacht at next month’s Cannes Lions, af­ter three years of hav­ing one of the big­gest boats.

What’s frus­trat­ing – even mad­den­ing – for those of us who love news­pa­pers and news brands is that the in­dus­try is so bad at col­lab­o­rat­ing.

It is 12 months since Cam­paign re­vealed that Bri­tain’s na­tional news­pa­per groups were in talks about set­ting up a joint ad sales house to gain scale and sim­plify their of­fer­ing for media agen­cies.

Alas, ne­go­ti­a­tions have gone nowhere fast. DMGT and Trin­ity Mir­ror dropped out of the project, known first as Juno and then Rio, at the start of this year.

At least the three re­main­ing play­ers – News UK, Tele­graph Media Group and Guardian Media Group – haven’t given up and have re­cruited Mckin­sey to try to breathe fresh life into the ini­tia­tive and tackle reg­u­la­tory con­cerns.

Pool­ing ad sales, au­di­ence data and even the pro­duc­tion of branded con­tent would all be log­i­cal. As Philippa Brown, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Om­ni­com Media Group UK and chair of Me­dia360, says: “Make your­self rel­e­vant, make sure you’re of­fer­ing what clients want.”

There are sliv­ers of good news. Some sales di­rec­tors say they have seen an in­crease in agen­cies buy­ing digital di­rectly from pub­lish­ers, rather than through open ex­changes, in the wake of the Youtube brand-safety row. Tesco has lifted its print spend a lit­tle – a tacit sign that cut­ting its bud­get back to prac­ti­cally zero last year may have been too dras­tic.

But most of the causes for op­ti­mism have lit­tle to do with ad­ver­tis­ing. The Guardian’s vol­un­tary mem­ber­ship scheme ap­pears to be get­ting some trac­tion. TMG’S push into ecom­merce – sell­ing events, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and travel to read­ers – is said to be driv­ing sig­nif­i­cant rev­enues. Over in the US, The New York Times and The Wall Street Jour­nal have en­joyed boom­ing sub­scriber num­bers thanks to Don­ald Trump.

All of th­ese of­fer hope that news­pa­pers can be­come smarter, data-driven busi­nesses that know their read­ers bet­ter. But when it comes to win­ning at ad­ver­tis­ing, there’s no sub­sti­tute for scale and sim­plic­ity. Pub­lish­ers must try harder at col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“Times must be tough be­cause the Daily Mail won’t be rent­ing a yacht at the Cannes Lions”

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