Quality Content Is Quality Content -- Why Differentiate On Print Or Digital?

We often talk about digital parity in news publishing, and usually mean the point at which declining print sales and an accompanying plunge in advertising revenue is made up for by a rise in digital revenues. Let's be clear -- this isn't so much a cause for celebration as it is confirmation that the worst of the worst is over and digital is finally helping to level out revenues, albeit at usually a lower overall rate than a few years ago.

That's why it's so interesting to see yesterday's announcement by News UK that it has reached an agreement for advertisers to pay as much to reach people digitally, on its tablet edition, as in print. I have long believed that publishers need to get a little more bullish about the engagement levels they offer digitally -- particularly on tablets because readers can be reached on a highly immersive channel when they are leaning forward, as it were, rather than picking up headlines and links in social media when killing some time. In fact, the company claims a Times reader will spend 45 minutes in the app and a Sunday Times reader for 67 minutes. The research clearly makes the point that the tablet edition gives access to News UK readers when they're reading articles rather than otherwise engaged playing a game of "Candy Crush."

So, News UK has carried out the research, and judging from what they have announced, it appears to have done the trick. The missing detail is whether this applies on the desktop and smartphone as well. Judging by the fact only the tablet editions of The Times,The Sunday Times and The Sun are mentioned, it would appear that the deal is limited to tablets. It should also be pointed out, of course, that this is a deal between News UK and some large media buyers. There is nothing to suggest that all inventory will be paid for and that some may not be offered on ad exchanges where the price will fluctuate.

However, with those side issues recognised, let's not forget that this is good news for anyone who has held firm with the belief that digital inventory should be regarded as highly as print. Let's not forget that the tablet editions can offer something very clever. They can actually tell the advertiser that the ad was viewed, by whom and for how long. It can also then dedupe against a list of people who are subscribed to receive a print subscription as well. That would appear to be the impetus behind the deal, then - a general print and tablet package is bought with CPMs being the same across the two channels.

So, effectively, if you look at it another way, advertisers are being given the same immersive experience as a newspaper but they don't have to deal with the doubt whether their advert was actually seen or not, as they do in print. At the same time, they are effectively getting a free ride on the tablets of Times print subscribers.

For the publisher's point of view, it now has an agreement that digital should be valued as highly as print, at least in tablet form, and media owners more widely now have a working example to cite. This is excellent news for those seeking to underline the worth of quality digital content.

Quality content is quality content, and delivered in the right context, why shouldn't it be as valuable as a print ad which may or may not be seen?

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