News & Opinion

Hamish Nicklin: Advertisers need to realise the value of quality

Speaking on a panel at Ad Week Europe, The Guardian's chief revenue officer said that while readers are prepared to pay for quality content, advertisers haven't yet realised the value of being in that environment.

"Our audiences are prepared to pay for quality. [The Guardian] has had a million contributions... advertisers are way behind on this, they haven't yet realised the value of quality," Nicklin said at the Future of Publishing session at Ad Week Europe yesterday.  

He added: "The amount of research which proves the value of advertising in a quality environment... advertisers' blindness to this is unbelievable." Newsworks and GroupM's research proves that quality online environments are 42% more cost effective for advertisers versus the open exchange.

Nicklin's fellow panellist Katie Vanneck-Smith, co-founder of Tortoise, told delegates that advertisers should be able to explain why their ad is in front of someone. As she put it: "If you can't explain the algorithm then you shouldn't be there." In her view, "environment matters more than anything", a point Nicklin strongly agreed with.

Attention was also on the agenda, with Nicklin saying that he would "love people to start caring about attention, not viewabilty". He thinks that the industry is still fixated on metrics that were "created in the early days of the internet", adding: "We just haven't moved on."

However, when it comes to industry collaboration, things have changed. Nickin cited The Ozone Project as one of the main things that excite him about going to work each day, describing it as an initiative that redefines how digital advertising can work.

Finally, diversification was a dominant subject for the panel - both in terms of revenue streams and content production.

Dennis' chief digital officer Pete Wootton said that the media group has five key pillars of growth encompassing ad revenues, reader revenues and eCommerce. Meanwhile, Nicklin said that The Guardian's revenue stream is equally split between advertising and reader revenues. The emphasis is on developing meaningful reader relationships: "What we're really looking to do is develop those recurring relationships... recurring relationships are so incredibly valuable."

When it comes to the type of content publishers are producing, both Nikclin and Vanneck-Smith highlighted the diverse forms storytelling is taking.

Discussing her new venture, Vanneck-Smith discussed how Tortoise is producing a different kind of journalism: "We only publish one thing a day. A slow read." In addition, the team at Tortoise open up their newswroom to members, allowing them to attend evening news conference. As she put it, the idea is to enable "open journalism and an open newsroom". 

Over at The Guardian, there is a similar emphasis on "having a discussion and going a little bit deeper", as well as breaking news. Nicklin also drew attention to the different ways that The Guardian is bringing its journalism to readers, from films to podcasts: "I think there's a perception that newsbrands are printed word on paper or on the internet. The reality is that we're diversifying how to tell the story." 

You can watch the session in full here.

by Jessie Sampson 22/03/19

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