News & Opinion

Don't let your heart rule your head - again

While playing to the heart won it for the Leave campaign, we need to listen to our heads when it comes to valuing newspapers' advertising effectiveness, says Newsworks' Rufus Olins. 

As the EU and the UK prepare for divorce, it is the multi-billion pound question: how did the Remain campaign fail to win over its audience and create the recriminations, regret and profound reputational damage we are living with today?

It seems that the more experts and business leaders rallied to the Remain cause with logic and evidence about the inevitable economic fallout, the more the cause was lost. Playing to the heart with the "take control" message trumped, leading to a result that most people did not expect, that most businesses did not want, and that some of our national newspapers fought for while others despaired.

So what does the Brexit result have in common with newspapers?

Well, Newsworks last week held its first Effectiveness Summit, where we unveiled new evidence of the efficacy of newspapers, presented by independent and lifelong effectiveness experts. It shows that using newspapers boosts ad campaign effectiveness by three times on average and that the advertising exodus from newsbrands has been overdone.

For the head, some facts on the research. The study looks at 500 econometric models across six categories, and provides hard evidence and impartial econometrics to analyse the impact newspapers have on advertising campaigns.

Our guide through it all is Sally Dickerson of Benchmarketing. Sally is a renowned effectiveness expert, an eloquent communicator and, above all, an independent thinker.

Other people have reported on the results, including Dominic Mills and Richard Marks for Mediatel, and you can find out more on our dedicated effectiveness microsite, but the main conclusion to be drawn is that advertisers seeking the best return should invest in newspaper advertising at 2013 levels. The pendulum has swung too far from newspapers.

Most tellingly, the results show how newspaper advertising boosts other media. Pure play online display becomes four times more effective and TV's effectiveness doubles. We already know that newspaper brands feed other media's editorial content. Now we have compelling new evidence that they influence other media's advertising effectiveness too.

In a world where clients have to look beyond silos to the entire ecosystem, we are happy to report the complementary effect of newspapers. They provide a critical ingredient, much like baking powder when cooking a cake.

These messages are for the head. The £1 billion question for the advertising industry is whether media agencies and advertisers will allow their prejudices (or heart) to get in the way?

For the heart, some home truths. Newsbrands have proved themselves with huge digital scale that can't be argued with. They provide a trusted context and unusually strong engagement. They have a unique ability to set and drive the agenda and to trigger debate in other media.

But the prejudices that print faces today are many: the unreasoned view that print isn't sexy, the agency emphasis on programmatic and social marketing skills, the view that newspapers are no longer relevant, read by 'other people', albeit 47 million of them each month.

Brexit taught us that ignoring the facts that experts provide can be an enormous blunder. It would be a shame if media agencies and advertisers, with the evidence of this research, allow their hearts to rule their heads.

Chronic cases of 'morbus digitalis' - meaning an over reliance on digital media, a term recently coined by Mark Ritson - are rife. Don't let printism trump the facts, or let a desire to be fashionable outrank a desire to be profitable. Why not be original and find the courage to follow the facts?

Fortunately in recent weeks we've polled a number of high spending clients and agency leaders and found they welcome this new evidence on newspapers, including Asda's Claire Harrison-Church and MEC's Tom George. We look forward to sharing more detail and the wider response over the next weeks and months. Let's hope that, this time, expert economic sense wins the day.

First published on Mediatel

Don't let printism trump the facts, or let a desire to be fashionable outrank a desire to be profitable. Why not be original and find the courage to follow the facts?

Rufus Olins, CEO, Newsworks
by Rufus Olins 21/07/16

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