News & Opinion

DFS: Print is delivering "very strongly for our business"

Speaking at a Mediatel and Trinity Mirror breakfast event this week, Nick Ashworth, media agency manager at DFS Furniture, joined others in praising print as a "very powerful medium".

Newspapers offer something that no other media can in terms of levels of engagement, according to Manning Gottlieb OMD's head of investment Lewis Shaw.

In response to a question from the chair Dominic Mills, 'are we forgetting newspapers' strengths?', Shaw said: "It's the fact that you're not interrupted when you're reading - it's 'my time'. The best part of my day is the 20 minutes I spend reading my paper."

Meanwhile, Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at MediaCom, said: "Newspapers are still making TV shows successful; they're driving the agenda of Downing Street and Westminster. The strength of journalism is as great as it ever was and that generates a level of influence for advertising in newspapers."

Despite the strong sentiment towards print from the panel, James Wildman, chief revenue officer at Trinity Mirror, said there is an element of "printism" in agencies, a phrase coined by the publisher and defined as a 'bias, partiality, unreasoned dislike, hostility or antagonism towards, or discrimination against, print'.

Wildman said "the pendulum is swinging too far from print" and talked of repositioning newspapers to show off their "clear and inherent" strengths.

"Print is the last solus medium and that strength isn't diminishing," he explained to delegates over breakfast at the Haymarket Hotel.

Wildman spoke of the importance of engagement and attention, referencing Newsworks and PwC's recent 'The battle for attention' study, which shows that attention paid is a critical factor in addressing advertising impact. 

He also pointed out the "influence and effectiveness factors" relating to newsbrands and advertising, citing the Waitrose case study as an example of a brand seeing print "most effective ROI channel”.

Unerman suggested that the industry needs to work harder at providing evidence and shouting louder about cases such as Waitrose. This chimes precisely with plans already afoot at Newsworks. New effectiveness research providing compelling evidence and ammunition will be released in July.

Mills asked the panel whether the time spent argument, largely cited by US analyst Mary Meeker, stands up? "It's clear that time spent doesn't equal engagement," Wildman responded. "Mobile has huge numbers and it's an important channel but not all time spent is equal."

Unerman agreed that the time spent argument, which claims that advertising spend should correlate with the amount of time spent with a medium, is "too simplistic".

Moving on to topics such as online fraud, Shaw said "context is absolutely everything". For him, the "coming together of context and content has never been more important".

Fellow panellist and consultant Jim Stevenson agreed: "Context matters hugely and quality content is a big strength for newsbrands… publishers need to leverage that more."

Looking to the future, Wildman said newsbrands have transformed in recent years and will continue to transform. He explained that newsbrands are "collaborating with our [publisher] colleagues and other media more than ever" and says newsbrands will continue to do what they do best - "engage, entertain and inform".

Read more and see video interviews with James Wildman and Sue Unerman on Mediatel's Newsline

by Liz Jaques 20/05/16

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