Sunday 24 September 2017

John McGee: Time to re-evaluate the power of our newsbrands

'The most obvious conclusion from all of this is that newsbrands do actually deliver but they have fallen down the pecking order in adland.' (stock photo)
'The most obvious conclusion from all of this is that newsbrands do actually deliver but they have fallen down the pecking order in adland.' (stock photo)

John McGee

Since the dawn of the internet, traditional print media has received, well, a bad press. As readers moved online, a big chunk of the advertising revenues that essentially funds the industry followed them.

The great shiny new thing called digital offered advertisers the ability to target consumers to within an inch of their lives and in real-time.

Effectiveness became one of the calling cards of the online advertising world and the old media, which advertisers had abandoned in the scramble online, struggled to come up with compelling arguments and research to back up their claims that press still works.

Meanwhile, the 20- and 30-year-old media planners in agencies - who are making key advertising investment decisions on behalf of their clients - appear to be transfixed by the lure of digital and rarely, if at all, bother to take the time to read a newspaper on a regular basis. They know who they are.

So when an industry expert pops up and tells us that newsbrands are alive and kicking, one half of the advertising industry appears to chuckle into their skinny flat whites while the other half tentatively cross their fingers and hope that it's true. While they still feel an emotional connection with a newspaper brand and they realise the important role they play in an uncertain world, they would feel more comfortable if they had some reassurance about their effectiveness in a campaign mix. And maybe then, they would be more inclined to adjust their budgets accordingly.

Enter Peter Field and a piece of research that was commissioned by Newsworks, the trade organisation that represents news brands in the UK.

Field is one of a handful of global experts who have studied in great detail the link between creativity and advertising effectiveness and, together with Les Binet, he was one of the people who helped set up the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank in the UK.

This databank has since become a reservoir of world-class case studies and data about advertising, its effectiveness and the media channels that are used.

A regular pundit on the global marketing circuit, he was also one of the guest speakers at the recent launch of Marketing Multiplied, the publication which examined the impact of marketing communications which was published by Core Media in association with the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI).

Field's research focused on 108 winners in the last three IPA Effectiveness Awards and concluded that campaigns using newsbrands were 43pc more likely to deliver very large market share growth while 36pc were more likely to deliver substantial profits. In addition, 85pc were more likely to drive customer acquisition.

Field's research also noted that those newsbrands that have an online offering are even more effective with a 58pc uplift in the business impact - particularly in terms of profitability and customer acquisition - when both print and online are used in a campaign.

The research also noted that newsbrands boost the business effectiveness of other media too and those campaigns that included TV were among the most effective campaigns overall. In fact, multi-platform newsbrands supercharge TV's business effectiveness by a whopping 65pc while print - on its own - boosts TV's effectiveness by 44pc.

When it comes to campaigns that have TV and online as part of the mix, they tend to perform a lot better when online newsbrands are included, according to Field, who noted that campaigns deliver a 59pc improvement in effectiveness.

Take the online newsbrands out of the mix and this plummets to just 16pc.

Whippersnapper media planners should pay attention to the next bit. According to Field the data shows that print is increasingly effective at delivering new customers to brands. Campaigns including print were 39pc more effective at delivering new customers than campaigns without print in the six years ending 2014. This rose to a 67pc differential in the six years to 2016.

Finally, Field highlighted that print is particularly important for larger brands and can improve the business effects by as much as 57pc. It is also more successful when part of longer-term campaigns which by their very nature are a lot more effective than shorter-term ones. When used as part of a longer term campaign, Field noted, its effectiveness can be boosted by as much as 62pc.

The most obvious conclusion from all of this is that newsbrands do actually deliver but they have fallen down the pecking order in adland. Some of this is the industry's own fault for not producing compelling enough research to justify their case. Some of the blame lies in the hands of the digital-fixated media agencies.

Without getting sucked into a blame-game, it's now time to move on and re-evaluate the significant role that newsbrands can have in any campaign because, based on Field's findings, it's more than fair to conclude that the pendulum may have swung too far in the direction of digital and it's incumbent on all the players in the industry to do what's best for their clients' campaigns and businesses.

Contact John McGee at john@adworld.ie

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