News Titles Are Taking On The Duopoly With Profit And Engagement

It's good to see Newsworks taking the fight back to the duopoly of Facebook and Google. The trade body for news titles' Planning for Profit claimed that the country's big brands are missing out on GBP3bn of profit from underinvestment in news titles, both online and in print.

It takes a leap of faith to go on this journey with Newsworks, and so I have been talking to their Insight Director, Denise Turner, about how this huge figure is reached. Essentially, its econometric forecaster Benchmarketing -- the number crunchers involved in the study -- claims to know how investment leads to an increase in sales. It also claims to know how this impacts profit because it has insight into each industry's likely margins.

The result is a forecast that lifting investment in news titles' print and online editions by just a few percentage points -- it varies between sectors -- would see the aforementioned rise in overall profit. You can see a detailed breakdown with the previous link.

I have to admit it takes a lot of going along with Newsworks and a lot of trust that their econometric modelling is correct because profit levels are top-secret figures that not even they themselves have seen.

However, when speaking to Turner, it's clear there is renewed vigour in taking the fight to Google and Facebook and proving that quality titles are worth investing more in. As she puts it: "A lot of advertisers are just buying loads of digital advertising without really thinking about it and it seems great, because they're getting so much, but we're out to prove it's a false economy."

This is where it gets really interesting. Newsworks is about two-thirds of the way through a research project it hopes will show that quality titles are far more effective in how they shape customer behaviour. Apparently, we can expect a report outlining this in July. They are currently going through millions of impressions to figure out how they differ on quality titles to see what impact that might have had on the customer. It might be that hover time, or click-throughs, or exposure time are the key figures. We'll have to wait until July to find out how Newsworks wants to frame it.

According to Turner, however, a theme is emerging that will be reported on, which will be announced in the summer. And there is also a growing confidence within Newsworks to strike back at the duopoly and point out that, as she says, just because it's "cheap as chips" doesn't mean that all digital spend is effective.

However, when it comes to a kitemark to help quality titles stand out, the proverbial jury is still out -- although it is still under active consideration among Newsbrand's member titles. 

The steer I'm getting is the general feeling is that until you have proven that quality titles are worth the extra investment -- that they give advertisers more bang for the buck -- it is premature to assign them a kitemark. Once the link is proven, however,  it could be more actively considered as a way of pointing out that inventory may be more expensive per unit but, overall, it represents better value -- not to mention improved brand safety.

When the news around news titles has generally been depressing for the past few years, it's great to see someone flying the flag for quality journalism in the battle against the ever-increasing reach of the duopoly.

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