This week, Wavemaker hosted a panel session titled ‘The Publisher (R)Evolution’, which examined the radical transformation the news brand business model has undergone in recent years.
Moderated by Emma Dibben, Head of Print and Partner Engagement at Wavemaker UK, the session explored the nature of this phenomenal change and examined the next phase of the evolution with a focus on how advertisers can unlock the opportunities to maximise their growth.
Emma was joined by Dom Carter, Group Chief Commercial Officer, News UK & Wireless, Ryan Uhl, Brand Strategy Director, Mail Metro Media, Niki West, Client Services & Strategy Director, Newsworks and Alison Phillips, Editor, Daily Mirror and Mirror.co.uk.
The insightful question and answer style discussion included the transformation of news brands, ongoing audience growth and effectiveness, contextual relevance and diversity in the newsroom. It also looked at how news brands still affect societal change and lead the news agenda like no other medium.
Below are six key themes the Wavemaker team identified from the session:
- The transformation of the news brands model brings an opportunity for brands
Dom Carter outlined how the advent of the pandemic has accelerated the ongoing transition of news brands into diverse revenue streams such as audio, affiliates, ecommerce, subscriptions, etc. Audience affinity and the customer is at the heart of all elements of the news brand business. There’s a lot for brands to capitalise on.
- Reach has increased across news brand platforms and the effectiveness of the medium has increased over time
The latest PAMCo data confirms that 11.1m adults read a print newspaper daily with total cross platform reach at 38m daily. A Peter Field study of the IPA confirms that print effectiveness is growing over time.
- News brands can deliver outcomes driven by a wealth of data and contextual relevance
Ryan Uhl highlighted that data management platforms allow news brands to be ahead of the curve in the face of a cookie-less world. Combined with contextual relevance, smart data strategies ensure the ability to describe the attitude, the opinion or the emotion of the reader leading to higher engagement and action intent.
- News brands are championing the diversity agenda in newsrooms
Alison Philips outlined how important it is for news brands to build rapport with their readers as a community. A diverse newsroom is critical to representing a diverse readership and each editor must hold themselves to account in representing diverse groups. Alison highlighted that there is a fine line between free speech and responsible speech which journalists think about every day.
- News brands hold power to account and are a force for good
Alison Phillips highlighted how news brands investigate and break stories, it is expensive to do and is rarely done by broadcasters, for example the Dominic Cummings lockdown trip story. News brands drive action and affect societal change and there were many examples cited during the event where changes to UK law have been implemented due to campaigning journalism. Niki West confirmed that 77% of under 35s agree that journalism has become more important since the pandemic (A World Without News). Monetisation of digital revenues is challenging, and advertiser investment is critical to maintaining a free press.
- The reach of urban freesheets should not be overlooked in the pandemic
There is an assumption that because the communications industry is mainly home working that this is the case for all cities and employers. Even as restrictions have tightened, urban areas are still enjoying significant footfall and reaching these consumers is cost effective.