After 18 months of regeneration and innovation throughout the pandemic, the evolving digital landscape provides plenty of opportunities, according to panellists at Mediatel’s Future of Media event
Speaking to Mediatel News editor Omar Oakes on ‘The Year Ahead’ panel on Wednesday, panellists Lara O’Reilly from Insider, journalist Ian Burrell and Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford highlighted the power of news brands both in the present and in the future.
On what she considered a good example of media being a force for good, O’Reilly spoke about how she was “impressed” by the cross-industry ‘All Together’ campaign, particularly highlighting how quickly the campaign came together.
In what was built over a week at the beginning of the pandemic, “all of the news brands… put on the same cover spread… around staying at home to save lives and save the NHS and then coupled that with digital advertising”, she explained. “Everyone doing the same thing, at the same time, in conjunction.”
The future of the news brand industry also looks promising, according to the panel. Burrell praised publishers’ trend of pushing into what he called the “multimedia convergence of news”, with the use of multiple platforms such as newsletters and podcasts to broaden both their audience base and their brand reach. On podcasts, “there are whole commercial opportunities there”, he added.
The changing state of the digital advertising landscape might also prove beneficial to news brands as the internet moves into a post-cookie world. With advertising regulation looking ever likelier, “the Wild West era of digital advertising is going to slowly come to an end,” suggested Ponsford.
“I think news publishers…who provide good value for that value exchange with readers are going to do really well out of that,” he added.
The themes of trust and opportunity in a changing digital media landscape continued in Thursday’s session on publisher planning for the digital future. Chaired by Denise Turner, Newsworks research and insight director, the panel was joined by PHD’s Demi Abiola, PubMatic’s Babs Kehinde, and Michelle Sarpong from the7stars.
Sarpong underlined the importance of trusted journalism in providing information on important events. “People really started to question what they were reading [during the pandemic] and… went to trusted publishers,” Sarpong said, also pointing out the use of blocklists around Covid despite record traffic looking for trusted information on the coronavirus.
As the digital landscape evolves, Abiola remarked that the shift to more contextual digital advertising methods could be very advantageous for news brands. “It’s really the only sort of alternative to audience-based marketing,” he said. “All of the publishers here have so much rich first-party data, it should be a real boon towards targeting advertisers on a contextual basis.”