News UK – A digital success story
The week’s four sessions started with a bang, as Nick Petrie, Deputy Head of Digital at the Times, presented on how the Times created a digital success story against the odds. In 2010, the Times took the bold decision to move digital access behind a paywall, initially prompting a loss of almost 90% of its online readership. However, the decision ultimately proved a wise one, as they steadily rebuilt profitable readership to the point where the Times in 2014 reported its first operating profit in 13 years. The Daily and Sunday titles now have over 1.8m registered users and 450,000 paying subscribers, underscoring the success of the digital paywall model. Nick also ascribed this success to the Times’s recent adherence to an ‘episodic publishing’ approach. Rather than slavishly following breaking news – an area dominated by news broadcasters such as Sky and the BBC – the Times has shifted its focus to the production of in-depth, quality news: readers come to it for the authority of its reporting, analysis and opinion. Nick’s talk demonstrated how the paid-for offering can build commercial success and a highly attractive medium for advertisers, where it is underpinned by a compelling consumer proposition and experience.
Telegraph Media Group – Results that matter
The second session of the week was Results That Matter from Matt Cory, Managing Director of Spark at the Telegraph Media Group. Matt gave an in-depth insight into how we can obtain more effective campaign results for our clients. He took us through the Telegraph Spark’s newly-launched Results That Matter guarantee, which gives advertisers guaranteed results across three key metrics: positive increases in purchase intent, likelihood to recommend, and campaign awareness. The guarantee is expressed as a simple equation: Quality (content, context and environment) plus Metrics (uniques, page views, video views, and audience) equals Results That Matter (campaign awareness, purchase intent, and advocacy). In a wider media landscape where the media-owner/brand-owner relationship is increasingly strained around digital measurement and ‘true’ results, such a guarantee against campaign KPIs is a key competitive advantage for the Telegraph and a major attraction for advertisers.
Dennis Publishing – How to have great ideas
Next up was How To Have Great Ideas, a workshop with Dennis Publishing. It was led by Darren Burroughs (Head of Creative Solutions) and Riyad Emeran (Creative Director). This was a highly engaging session, really bringing to life the importance of good structure and process in developing successful client campaigns. Their key message was that there is little to be gained from brainstorming unless the creative process is built upon the foundations of strong insight to drive ideas. Indeed, as Dennis memorably expressed it, ‘an idea without insight is a guess’! By adopting this methodology, the right platforms to use for your campaign become much more obvious. After the presentation, we split into teams and were given a mock client brief. With just one hour to come up with a comprehensive campaign using the techniques we’d just discussed, the teams generated some great work and really saw the value in Darren and Riyad’s recommendations. This gave us not only a fresh perspective on the planning process, but great practical tools we can readily use for our clients.
Guardian Group – The power of storytelling
The final talk of the week was The Power Of Storytelling from Nick Hewat, Commercial Director of The Guardian. This session explained the Guardian’s success in growing paid-for membership from 200,000 to over 500,000 readers in recent years, alongside one-off contributions totalling several million pounds from readers in over 140 countries around the world. Nick ascribed this success to the core philosophy of the Guardian that its most important relationship is with its readers, and the conviction that it must continue to earn its readers’ trust, active engagement and support as the bedrock for future growth. He then took us through the Guardian’s innovative approaches to video (Guardian VR and Dabs) and analytics (the Ophan measurement tool). These have helped the newsbrand create and deliver quality content that underpins its declared positioning as “The UK’s most trusted online news source”.
Trust is key
A key theme emerging from all the sessions was that of trust. In an era of ad misplacement, ‘fake news’ and ad fraud, how can publishers continue to build trust with both advertisers and readers? Two important developments in the past week could prove critical to helping solve these issues, thereby placing publishers ahead of other media. First, a landmark deal has been signed by four of the nation’s major newsbrand titles – The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times and The Sun – to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for video advertising online. Called The Verified Marketplace, it offers a combined audience of almost 40 million unique users. Publishers can now offer advertisers assurance that their brands will not appear alongside inappropriate material and that their money will not be at risk of advertising fraud.
Second, The Mirror has announced that it is a launch partner for The Trust Project, which aims to make it easier for online readers to identify trustworthy sources of news. Participating newsbrands will provide clear signposting on the specific category of story they have posted – identifying it as news, analysis, opinion, or satire. This level of transparency could prove a critical step for the industry, building greater trust between newsbrands and readers, whilst helping stamp out ‘fake news’ agendas. The Trust Project’s other launch partners include weighty titles such as the Washington Post and the Economist.
Overall, Publishing Week has given us a great deal of exciting insight and ideas. Newsbrands have continued to innovate at pace, above all in the digital sphere, and have adopted differing models according to their needs and audiences. The contrasting approaches have been evident in the sheer breadth of compelling new offerings shared with us by senior leaders from the Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph. Given the intensity of this change, we can certainly expect an exciting 2018 in Publishing for advertisers, agencies and audiences alike.