Newspapers Tell Brands -- Not All Media Is Created Equal

The newspaper industry is staging a comeback reminiscent of last night's three goals from Belgium that saw off what looked like another shocking World Cup result at the hands of Japan.

The message that the football side and the newspaper industry is bringing us is much the same. Quality will always come out in the long run. It has been a campaign that been ramped up this year, and today we have the presentation of new results from its trade body, Newsworks. It has been working with GroupM UK to show that quality sites will always be more effective because they offer better engagement and brand response.

In fact, this morning they unveiled the headline figure -- quality environments are 42% more cost effective. How so? Well, the key starting point is viewability. On the basis that an ad cannot have an effect unless it's actually seen, the research found that on a quality site an ad is 58% more likely to have 100% of its pixels in view for five seconds. This is, of course, a much higher threshold than the IAB UK's suggestion that half an ad's pixels being on screen for a second deems it viewable. 



The GroupM study really puts the knife into exchanges by claiming that 48% of ads bought through an open exchange, in its research effort, were never actually seen. In contrast, quality environments mean that an ad is 98% more likely to be placed above the fold, and the research goes on to claim, are 273% more likely to prompt a user to hover over an ad. Note that we are not saying click here, but hover. Presumably, everybody has now given up on measuring online ads' effectiveness via CTR?

The research rounds up with brand awareness being lifted more than 10%, recall increasing 19% with perception and intent spikes approaching 10%.

In other words, this is another message from those sites that pay for quality journalism to remind advertisers of that old saying every parent has passed on to their child -- buy cheap, pay twice.

The internet is awash with so much cheap inventory that brands have been lulled into a false sense of security that they can spray and pray their name and latest offers to every corner of the web for peanuts. Trouble is, a lot of this inventory is falling prey to fraudsters as well as not being viewable on sites that pile the ad units high and sell them off cheap.

For any journalist and publisher devoted to producing quality content, the research study is very welcome. It's the latest in a campaign from the UK newspaper industry to show advertisers that when they buy cheap, they often waste their budget. Buying premium inventory might appear to be too expensive at first sight but throw in the added attributes of it standing far more chance of being seen and lifting brand perceptions and then the maths starts to work in the favour of quality.

Of course, there is probably another part to all this regarding brands expecting media agencies to pitch for business based on amazing deals on low priced inventory that ultimately, might mean the cheap route to market is the only route available. 

So the newspaper industry has to change perceptions of quality environments, but also change the dialogue between brands and media buyers away from the latter having to buy the former's business with the lowest offer, and instead focus on the outcomes. Media agencies forced to bid low or miss out cannot suddenly find extra budget to buy premium space.

Newspaper sites are in the middle of a tough conversation between advertisers and their agencies ,but at least it's living by the axiom Don Draper espoused in Mad Men -- "If you don't like a conversation, change it."

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