News brands and advertisers must get round the table

Print media brands and their advertisers have a rather dysfunctional relationship. Publications depend on advertising revenue to sustain their business models – an increasingly urgent issue when circulations are taking a hit from the rapid dissemination of online news and information. Advertisers, on the other hand, depend on there being strong news and magazine brands that can continue to draw in large audiences across all channels.

jonny bacon

Given this mutual dependence, it’s surprising that both sides are struggling to develop an effective relationship when it comes to digital advertising. A new study by Brand Perfect, a global project run by typeface agency Monotype, has found that 93 per cent of publications are failing to offer advertisers a complete multi-device experience. The report, which looked at 100 top consumer magazines in the UK, US and Germany, criticises “the fragmented nature of publishing channels today”.

Elsewhere, the report finds that only 25 per cent of English speaking magazines are optimised for tablets, with most publishers using scaled-down versions of their desktop sites instead. Although publishers would no doubt defend their digital credentials against these figures, there are signs that advertisers have their own concerns when it comes to working with print brands.

For example, a recent survey of Marketing Society members by newspaper trade marketing body Newsworks found that only 16 per cent of members have used tablets in their advertising work to date. Marketers identified a lack of technical understanding about tablets and insufficient evidence of successful advertising on the devices as problematic issues.

It’s encouraging then, to see a media group as large and influential as News International taking steps to close the knowledge gap between its digital teams and its advertisers.

The company has set up a digital commercial products unit that will focus on creating new advertising formats in partnership with brands.

If run effectively, the unit could serve as a hub for innovation and best practice, encouraging other publishers and advertisers to put their collective heads together and develop multi-platform advertising solutions that suit the needs of both sides. Given that news brands and advertisers are supposedly both in the communications business, that shouldn’t be as difficult as it seems.

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