News & events

What are newsbrands for anyway?

Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at Mediacom, on why the ability to characterise the truth of what people are like by what they read is just one more reason to love newspapers.

What are newsbrands for anyway? They clearly are not just purveyors of news (of course). They aren't just vehicles for advertising. They are not just curators of opinion. They do not just reflect their readers views.

Newspaper brands sum people up in a second.

If I tell you that I went to the first parents evening at my kids school and the room was full of Guardian readers, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And you can have a pretty good guess as to where the school is once you know it's in North London.

If I say that I went to dinner to meet an old friend's new partner for the first time and that he's a Telegraph reader when she never does more than look at the pictures in OK, then it might tell you something about the relationship in a sentence that more detailed explanation would fail to communicate.

And if I explain that when I went to a Sunday lunch with some old friends and they told me that they subscribe to both The Times and the Daily Mail so that they can stay abreast of "the full range of opinions in the UK" (and this one actually happened) then you can imagine my oh so witty response.

Are there any other media brands that so neatly sum up the population?

Describing someone as a Facebook consumer tells me nothing (it's too broad these days). Ditto Google, MSN and Amazon. There's the "Twitterati" class but that's just an update of the chattering classes and not a descriptor of the average user.  

A brief discussion with MediaCom's CID team, (that's Challenge and Inspire), got me not much further with non-newspaper brands. Some of them think that a C4 viewer used to be a description but now isn't (you don't know if you would be describing a lover of Cutting Edge or Big Fat Made in Chelsea Embarrassing Bodies). The best one they came up with (thanks Lou) is "she's a bit of a mums-netter". Have you got any better ones?

What good does this do us in media agencies?

Of course this helps us to reach potential customers for a brand in a very considered and tailored way, which can be a great asset for building brand warmth and true connections. It means that you can take a more long term view about the kinds of people you want as customers too, which can be useful for brands looking at the lifetime value of customers.  

I remember one particular analysis about lifetime value of a direct response advertiser in a range of newspapers that showed an inverse relationship of cost per response to cost per lifetime value in a specific category by newspaper brand, which was extremely useful in driving immediate efficiencies.

For creative work it can mean that tailoring the tone of advertising to its audience is easy to do.

This ability to characterise the truth of what people are like by what they read is, for me, just one more reason to love newspapers. Great independent journalism, thought-provoking opinion that you can both love and hate, curiosity feeding facts, great story telling AND the best way to sum up your friends and neighbours. 


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