The Year Ahead For...Newspapers

Amy King sees tablets changing the print world, with more digital titles, new opportunities for agencies and research improving the trading process.

Amy King: ‘Many publishers  still had a long way to go in tightening their offerings and ensuring they were targeted and functional’
Amy King: ‘Many publishers still had a long way to go in tightening their offerings and ensuring they were targeted and functional’

As we said goodbye to 2012, we saw 17 per cent of the population in ownership of a tablet device. Once all the gifts have been opened and the January sales come to an end, it’s estimated that this will have risen to 30 per cent.

The launch of neat devices at relatively low price points, coupled with the emergence of strong competitors to Apple, has opened up the market to the population. This makes 2013 the year we will see publishers maximise their offerings in digital print.

In 2012, we held a two-week event at MPG Media Contacts called Press Revolution in which we aimed to educate the agency on the emergence of digital print platforms and the impact this is having on the world of print. We welcomed industry bodies, publishers and industry professionals into the agency and debated the future of print and digital platforms.

We concluded that there have been some great starts, but many publishers still had a long way to go in tightening their offerings and ensuring they were targeted and functional. The last quarter has seen that start to happen with a fantastic launch from Grazia and the Mail soft-launching Mail Plus on the Kindle Fire. This year will see other titles catch up and starting to offer fully interactive issues rather than PDFs with a couple of links.

Some creative agencies have not found the move into digital the easiest and a lot of opportunities to engage have been missed. As we trialled and errored, we’ve seen a few cases of overkill, with repetitive copy running in the same title for more than a month. Something we all know will not have great results with any audience.

This year needs to see creative agencies working with media agencies, publishers and clients to develop clever tablet copy that takes advantage of the mobility and interactivity a tablet device can offer.

In 2012, titles such as The Week and The Telegraph began providing accountable numbers. As this grows and buyers learn what to ask for, the process will become a lot less daunting and digital print will become a justifiable channel on the media schedule.

This year will see the launch of the ABC QuickView, which will aid developments and allow agencies to get a combined circulation across a media owner’s range of platforms. This, combined with the insight that the National Readership Survey PADD can offer (which will also include tablet later in 2013), makes a once shadowy buy a lot easier to partake in and, more importantly, possible to justify.

The Guardian has approached agencies already about an alternative to cost-per-single-column-centimetre, selling ready-built advertising packages across its platforms. While News International failed on the audience sell a couple of years ago, media agencies will need to look at the best way to buy cross-platform partnerships. It’s only natural we will look at more than a page rate to decide the value of a campaign. I think it’s unlikely we will move to the audience buy but look more at trading and achieving value across the whole package and less in individual elements.

As publishers develop their cross-platform brands and finally offer the fully integrated sell, agencies will also move to embrace these changes. I think buying in the traditional silos will naturally diminish as specialists work together to offer true brand partnerships between media brands and clients.

Agency buyers will also have many more opportunities open to them, as publishers know that a media first is as valuable as it always has been. In 2012, we have seen traditionally precious brands open their doors to coverwraps, inside front cover spreads and takeovers, and I think 2013 will only see this continue.

Editorial teams will continue to see the commercial benefits of offering these formats and will need to move in this direction – especially as readership moves online, where the print pound becomes the digital penny.

Finally, it will be interesting to see what the auditors make of this new platform and how they will analyse the effectiveness of brand campaigns. They too will need to develop new skills in assessing the buying effectiveness of the agency.

This year could be one of the – if not the – most exciting we have seen in the world of print. We will witness the digital launch of many famous brands, increasing opportunities for agencies and clients and, in essence, creating a whole new way of consuming press.

Amy King is the head of press at MPG Media Contacts