Monday 14 October 2019

Newsbrands proving effectiveness but united front needed

Based on the last set of ABC figures - from July-December 2018 - an average of 367,000 people bought a daily newspaper while 546,000 bought a Sunday newspaper (stock photo)
Based on the last set of ABC figures - from July-December 2018 - an average of 367,000 people bought a daily newspaper while 546,000 bought a Sunday newspaper (stock photo)

John McGee

Peter Field is one of world's leading advertising consultants and when it comes to the effectiveness of advertising he is generally the go-to guy for informed opinion and empirical evidence when it comes to what does and does not work.

His gravitas and expertise lends a reassuring reality check to the proceedings and the debate about advertising investment.

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Field's forte is the effectiveness of advertising, a topic that looms large on the agenda of many marketers and their brands.

Over the last 20 years, Field has studied advertising effectiveness in great detail and a lot of the case studies that underpin much of his work are drawn from the UK's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising's Effectiveness Awards Databank, the largest of its kind in the world and a reservoir of useful insights and case studies on advertising effectiveness.

While all of this might seem a bit too academic and, perhaps, a tad dull, at a time when the wider marketing community is looking to justify its hefty investment in advertising at every turn, it is important that any decisions made are done so on the basis of quantifiable facts, transparent analytics backed up by empirical evidence and research.

Field's latest research came last week when Newsworks, the trade organisation that represents newsbrands in the UK, published a report on the effectiveness of campaigns that included newspapers in the media mix - including their print and online offerings.

For a start Field found that campaigns that use multiplatform newsbrands are 50pc more likely to drive customer acquisition and three times more likely to deliver a boost in customer loyalty, than those that don't.

Drawing on a sizeable 146 case studies from the IPA Databank, he also found that campaigns that include both print and digital newsbrands are also 37pc more likely to deliver market share growth and 58pc more likely to drive profit. He also pointed out that newsbrands are also a "highly effective multiplier" for other media and they make TV 66pc more effective while the figure for online video was 81pc. Adding print to the campaign mix also creates a 41.5pc uplift in business effectiveness, he noted. "In a disruptive media environment, this latest analysis shows that newsbrands continue to play a significant role in today's media mix to ensure long-term brand success," he concluded. The Newsworks report comes just a year after NewsBrands Ireland - of which INM, publisher of this newspaper, is a member - published similar independent research demonstrating the effectiveness of press advertising.

The troubling thing in all of this is that press advertising remains challenged, despite clear evidence of its important contribution to the overall media mix. It also raises many questions about the reasons why brands and the agencies that represent them continue to invest less and less every year at a time when the evidence suggests they should be spending more.

Could it be that the marketers are being given the wrong information by their agencies? Are these marketers themselves keeping up to speed with important research like that conducted by Field? Or do they just go with the flow and sign off on media plans without questioning them?

For their part, are agency folk actually taking note of all of this research or are they just happy to pay lip-service to the importance of robust research? Given the age profile of people working in media agencies, I suspect many of them don't even read a newspaper either offline or online. Even the Irish newsbrands industry can accept some of the blame for its failure to come up with its own robust cross-platform research. In the old days, we had the Joint National Readership Survey (JNRS) which provided advertisers with some insights into the readership trends of the daily and weekly newspapers.

Based on the last set of ABC figures - from July-December 2018 - an average of 367,000 people bought a daily newspaper while 546,000 bought a Sunday newspaper. That's 912,300 people buying at least one newspaper every week and while circulation has been in decline for a number of years, the reality is that more and more readers are now consuming their favourite newsbrand online.

Despite this the industry has failed to come up with one single independent source of research which tracks online and offline readership trends.

If it is to stand up to the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook, it needs to show a united front to advertisers.

And without such a piece of research, Irish newsbrands will continue to face an uphill struggle and praying that the effectiveness message being preached by the likes of Field will eventually sink in among advertisers.

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