Brands must spread good news on cross-platform ads
Last Thursday, the Irish newspaper industry was out in full force in Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre for the annual Town Hall event organised by NewsBrands Ireland, the trade organisation for the industry.
Set up to showcase the industry and the different print and digital offerings its members provide to advertisers and their brands, the Town Hall event is part of a wider strategy aimed at educating and informing these advertisers and many media agencies about the effectiveness of press advertising.
At a time when the circulation of newspapers across the board is under intense pressure and the magnet-like lure of digital media giants like Facebook and Google continue to suck in the lion's share of digital ad spend, it's always going to be a tough sell.
Over the last 10 years, print has seen its share of total advertising spend fall from 40pc in 2007 to just 13pc last year. According to Core, print advertising amounted to around €134m in 2017 and this year it forecasts a decline to around €119m with the online channels of newspapers likely to attract around €25m for the year.
There are a number of reasons for this. As general newspaper circulation continues to decline and media consumption habits continue to fragment, advertising investment has, often blindly and sheep-like, tried to follow the audience, one of the main reasons why Facebook, for example, has thrived. For some, this has worked, for others, however, it has been akin to throwing money into a big black hole.
In advertising all roads should lead back to effectiveness. If an advertising campaign is not effective and isn't achieving its KPIs, it's simply a waste of money.
Advertising effectiveness is one of the bedrocks of the industry and there is no shortage of empirical evidence linking effectiveness with business and brand success.
In all the talk about newspaper circulation and advertising revenues declining over the past few years, however, the issue of effectiveness has been overlooked.
In fact, it's one of several areas that the industry has woefully neglected to address in the many conversations it has had with advertisers.
Thankfully, this is changing. Recent publication of research commissioned by NewsBrands Ireland sheds new light on the power and effectiveness of press advertising.
The independent research was conducted the UK company Research & Analysis of Media (RAM), and evaluated the effectiveness of five print ad campaigns running across national newspapers over a 10 day period back in March. Respondents to the survey were questioned about the key effectiveness metrics of recall, engagement, recognition and action of campaigns run by Ford, Lidl, Sky, TUI, and Harvey Norman.
In addition, they were asked their opinions about trust, context and relevance.
Overall, the findings were very positive about the effectiveness of print advertising and how it works for these brands, especially when it came to the all-important 'action' metric which demonstrates how people act after seeing a print ad. The action could be a request for more information, a visit to a website or actually buying the product or service.
Not surprisingly, the RAM research also found that news brands deliver a level of trust unparalleled by other channels with 45pc citing them as having the most trustworthy news content. Social media, for example, weighed in with just 3pc. At a time when people are increasingly concerned about the proliferation of fake news and advertisers are worried about brand safety, this unquestionably strengthens the hand of the newspaper industry.
If I was to find a fault with the research, however, it's the fact that it only covers print advertising. While print circulation may be declining, the reality is that more and more readers are consuming their news content online or in app format and more and more campaigns are now cross-platform. This leads on to the next problem that the industry needs to confront: the lack of cross-platform research that is available to advertisers.
Back in 2016 the industry, under the auspices of the Joint National Readership Survey announced that it was working towards the creation of Fuse, a cross-channel readership survey in response to changing readership habits. Nearly three years later, it has yet to see the light of day. If the industry is serious about defending its patch and showcasing what news brands can do that others can't, this now needs to be a priority. And sooner rather than later.
Sunday Indo Business