Don't underrate news brands' ability to deliver
A view from Mark Finney

Don't underrate news brands' ability to deliver

There is a reason "so many have devoted their lives to protecting rhinos, parakeets, kakapos and dolphins", zoologist Mark Carwardine says: "The world would be a poorer, darker, lonelier place without them." Advertisers should feel the same about our newspaper brands.

Like biodiversity lost through industrialisation, it is the explosion of digital media that threatens the extinction of news brands.

The biggest threat is Google and Facebook, which take about 60p in every £1 spent on digital media – and their share is increasing. Unlike their purely digital rivals, news brands are saddled with capital-intensive overheads: printing presses, delivery fleets and, of course, journalists. They provide 80% of the news content exploited by digital aggregators but do not reap a fair share of the benefits.

People undoubtedly love their news brands but how about the principal source of their revenue, advertisers? It would appear not. Standard Media Index data shows news brands’ share of adspend has fallen to a historic low of 9.7% (7.6% for print, 2.1% digital print). In the retail category, spend has declined from a 30.1% share in 2011 to 16.5%.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest is an industry-wide drive towards performance marketing, where brands and their agencies are optimising to cost per acquisition or sale rather than reach and frequency, and softer measures such as awareness. 

It is no accident that Google and Facebook are so successful. They are performance marketing companies par excellence

News brands are not performance media, right? Wrong. Three new independent studies from Newsworks tell an impressive story.

n A meta-analysis of more than 500 econometric models across six categories found that print news brands boost overall campaign effectiveness by three times on average.

n Print news brands double the effectiveness of TV (when given an effective share of 10-12% of the media mix) and quadruple the effectiveness of online display ads (with a 12-18% share).

n Using print news brands uplifts brand health by 5%. If you also use digital news brands, the uplift is 17%.

The crucial point is that current spend in print news brands has dropped below the effective weight. For example, supermarkets’ share of spend needs to be at around 27% for maximum effectiveness.

Given a fair share of spend, news brands can deliver for marketers and your bottom line.

Mark Finney is director of media and advertising at ISBA.