Shift 2016 reports and presentations

Shift 2016 report

Read the highlights from Newsworks' Shift 2016 conference, with speakers including Steve Richards, Bob Hoffman, Katharine Viner and Tony Gallagher, as well as a lively ad blocking debate, a Waitrose case study and an update on PAMCo.

Rock n Roll politics

With Brexit set to dominate headlines until June's referendum, The Independent's chief political commentator Steve Richards opened the conference by taking a wry and very funny look at the drama and tensions currently rife inside Westminster.

In his words, the battle between those for and against leaving the European Union is "a fantastically rich, Shakespearean drama being played out in front of our eyes", in which newspapers have the space to "explore in depth what's happening... and are less constrained [than broadcasters] in doing so". 

The ongoing influence of newspapers was also noted by Richards, who explained that "Cameron was really worried when he came back from Brussels with his his negotiation deal, at the onslaught he got from some of the newspapers. There is a strange dynamic which still goes on in that newspapers to some extent shape the way these supposedly mighty leaders think". As he puts it: "The media continues to mediate".

Ad Contrarian

Bob Hoffman took to the stage next to detail the costly delusions of the media industry. The Ad Contrarian drew on his book 'Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey' to explore three areas; brand, digital and age delusions.

In a session which was both interesting and hugely entertaining, Hoffman dismantled many marketing myths, including that consumers are in love with brands, that digital "has made irrelevant everything that came before it" and that young people are the most important people for marketers to target.

"I'm not saying that we should ignore technology or that new media modes can't be useful, or that young people should be ignored" Hoffman said. "What I am saying is that we need to maintain some perspective and get over our obsessions. We need to stop falling for the exaggerated, irresponsible baloney which has been sold to us by people with an ideological or financial interest in creating hysteria and promising miracles".

Waitrose case study

A look at the essential partnership between Waitrose and newsbrands followed from double act 'Tim and Tammy', aka adam&eveDDB's Tammy Einav and Manning Gottlieb OMD's Tim Pearson, highlighting the "lasting, enduring and important" nature of the relationship between newsbrands and the supermarket. 

"From an ROI point of view, newsbrands are star performers. On average print is our most effective ROI channel, it really does deliver commercial value back to the Partnership. But it goes beyond just ROI, news is consistently in the top two channels when it comes to brand and conversion metrics" explained Pearson.

Einav went on to detail how newsbrands "allow us to tell a number of stories at any one time", using recent Waitrose campaigns to demonstrate how "a consistent handwriting" can "engage consumers with different messages". As she said: "That's the beauty of these channels."

In conversation with Katharine Viner 

The first of the morning's sessions with a national newspaper editor came next, as Katharine Viner sat down with Newsworks' CEO Rufus Olins to discuss her plans for the Guardian, chiefly built on "deeper relationships with readers and deeper relationships with advertisers". Elaborating on this, Viner said that "we're not going to be introducing a pay wall" but will instead be focusing on "how you can get readers to become more loyal and then turning loyal readers into members". 

Having previously headed up the newsbrand's operations in both Australia and the US, the title's first female editor drew attention to the quality of the British press: "I just missed the British press so much when I was abroad. I think you take it for granted when you live here and work here just how brilliant it is, how vibrant, how challenging and competitive."

Asserting the value of newsbrands, Viner went on to say that "there has been a move back towards brands that people trust to verify and separate through the speculation and the rumour and the falsity... there's a sort of dark ages of false information and I think that people come to newsbrands that they trust to get the truth". 

The future of ad blocking

Ad blocking was next on the agenda, with Mondelēz International's Matt Stockbridge, Maxus UK's Anna Hickey, IAB UK's Steve Chester and author and brand strategist Ian Leslie taking a five year view on the issue.

Chaired by Trinity Mirror Solutions' Piers North, the session saw Hickey state that "ad blockers will not kill journalism - journalism is frankly too important to us culturally and economically and we all have a part to play to make sure that it survives".

Meanwhile, Stockbridge said "we'll start worrying about ad blocking when we can't watch TV, can't look at posters and can't read newspapers" and Chester asserted that in five years "we'll have got our house in order".

Yet it was Leslie's belief that the industry has "focused on the technology and forgot about the human" which won the audience vote, reinforcing Hoffman's earlier view that people don't care about brands, described by Leslie as "a bitter pill, which is probably why we refuse to swallow it".

PAMCo and the roadmap for engagement

The latest on the Publishers Audience Measurement Company - the industry's solution for new multi-platform measurement - was delivered next by PAMCo's Simon Redican and Aviva's Jan Gooding.

"I wanted to be chair of PAMCo because I actually feel that there is value in this sector that clients are not understanding and not getting access to" said Gooding, before going on to explain that the new service will provide a "a brand first approach to measurement. Your audience will no longer be separated by platform". She also unveiled the logo for AMP, the organisation PAMCo sits behind. 

Redican followed by detailing how the single source data will deliver "de-duplicated reach and frequency capability across all platforms" via 35,000 in-home, face to face interviews, of which 5,000 will also have their digital consumption passively measured. Ready to deliver to the market in August 2017, Redican emphasised that the will provide a "real measurement of how people are actually consuming in the 21st century". 

Next Denise Turner gave a preview of Newsworks' latest research, measuring consumers' engagement with media. Launching next month, the research will "define engagement in the connected age" across platforms and content, while also "developing the metrics for engagement so you will properly be able to demonstrate the value of published media in today's complex media landscape". 

The Sun's Tony Gallagher

The conference closed with The Sun's recently appointed editor-in-chief Tony Gallagher in conversation with Newsworks' deputy CEO Vanessa Clifford

With The Sun having recently changed from having a paid-for-digital subscription model to being free to access, Gallagher explained that "in the digital landscape we are going to be trying a number of things over the next few years, some of which will work and some of which will not work". He later added: "We should learn to fail at things and fail fast and then move on and try new things.... if any of these things don't work, don’t persist with them for years, we're all finding our way digitally and I think it behoves us to show some humility about what works and what doesn't work in the future as our readers navigate accordingly." 

Highlighting the influence that newspapers continue to hold, Gallagher said: "Although you have these new brands arriving, the reliance on the traditional news media is as important as ever and I think it's beyond dispute that newspapers continue to drive that national conversation in as much as they decide what stories are and broadcasters then tend to jump to their tune." Discussing investigative journalism, he believes that "really good investigations remain the province of newspapers... it's the established players I think which are going to continue to blaze that kind of trail".

Videos, photos and presentations from Shift 2016 now available.

by Jessie Sampson 02/03/16

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