As digitalisation dominates industry forecasts, the panellists discussed the opportunities and dangers for news publishers, advertisers and society
Last Friday’s panel, organised by Newsworks, Starcom and Samsung and chaired by Newsworks’ director of agency and client services Niki West, discussed how journalism matters not only to readers and society at large, but also to brands and advertisers both in terms of reach and ad effectiveness.
West was joined by Chris Gough, head of marketing at Samsung, Emily-Jayne Smith, Starcom’s programmatic investment director and David Cohen, campaign editor for the Evening Standard and a leader of investigations across both the Evening Standard and The Independent.
Political events over the previous few days provided the perfect backdrop to talk about how journalism impacts society. Gough said: “You only have to look at what’s going on this week with Downing Street parties… to realise that journalism has a hugely important role to play in society.”
But should brands and advertisers care about society in that way? “I think the answer to that is a resounding yes”, Gough added. “People are attracted to brands that share their values… the heart of Samsung’s business is about contributing to a better global society, that’s completely baked into the brand.”
Mentioning the party scandal (first tipped off to the Mirror’s Pippa Crerar) and how the story disseminated itself on social media, the discussion became focussed on how media digitalisation will set the agenda for the year ahead. Cohen commented: “Working together with social in this symbiotic way to extend the reach of our audiences beyond our normal core readers, I think represents both a challenge and an opportunity.
“I think we’re going to see more of that”, he added, explaining that with younger consumers particularly at risk of consuming news on social media that may not have “trust and verification of news brands”, there is an opportunity for publishers to use the space to ensure users can access reliable sources of information.
Touching on an important topic surrounding digital advertising, Smith talked about the importance of brand safety for advertisers as well as technological developments designed to ensure publishers are not unfairly penalised for covering hard news.
“Care and consideration does need to be given to brand safe and brand suitable content to make sure that we’re aligning with the most appropriate content”, Smith said, going on to say: “Fortunately… [newer brand safety solutions] evaluate the suitability of content by assessing keyword combinations – so looking at multiple rather than just singular ones in isolation – but they will also look at the emotional response that an article might elicit.”
“If you pair that with direct relationships and appropriately targeted campaigns, this really progressive approach means that brands are empowered to safely reach those who are engaging with all types of news content”, she finished.
In this vein, Smith also mentioned the opportunities news brands and advertisers have to reach younger and more niche audiences on social media, bringing journalism’s reputation for trust and quality to “environments where misinformation is quite prevalent”.
At the end of each ‘Journalism Matters’ session, West asks the panellists to complete the following sentence: “Journalism matters because…”. At Friday’s panel, a range of answers showed how vital it is to every part of society and the economy.
For Gough, it was because “society matters to brands”, while for Smith “it helps people stay informed [and] educated, form opinions and taste” as well as keeping “direct contact to people and organisations of power.”
With Cohen having the final word and using a phrase that resonated with the panellists earlier on, he said: “Without [journalism], news that something is wrong and needs changing will be smothered in a duvet of spin.”
If you are interested in hosting a ‘Journalism Matters’ session at your agency, please get in touch with Niki West here.