News Int eyes ‘thought leadership’ role in battle for advertisers

News International wants to take the lead in the newspaper industry in encouraging brands to advertise with news brands as it passes the one year anniversary of the launch of the seven-day Sun.


The publisher is running a series of events and publishing research next month to articulate how news brands are evolving as multi-platform operations.

Brendan Judge, News International head of strategy, told Marketing Week the company is looking to become more “sophisticated” about how it communicates the value of its products to advertisers.

He added: “It’s fair to say with the News of the World and other issues within the industry we have been – by necessity – a bit introverted, and that’s not like us. Now we want to come out on the front foot and have more positive conversations about our brands and reclaim thought leadership. We always try things first and take the lead [editorially] and this shouldn’t be different.”

News International is staging an event in partnership with The Future Lab in March, with speakers from brands outside the industry such as Twitter.

The publisher will also visit a number of brands and clients, selecting younger staff members to get involved in shaping what they believe the message of news brands should be. It is hoping these visits will act as a test bed for speaking about its audience in terms of segmentation rather than just leading with the scale of reach for The Sun or The Times – an approach says the industry “has not been great” at taking before.

However, trying to commoditise ad sales around audiences, in a bid to sell advertising across platforms and for the publisher to better forecast revenue, can be “risky”, according to media agency The7Stars head of trading Liam Mullins. He says this approach can take away the benefit of press advertising, where advertisers can book tactical campaigns last minute.

In addition to its main event, News International is opening a pop up art gallery opposite the Zenith Optimedia office with experiential content designed to showcase the approach.

As part of the strategy, News International is also assessing how it should articulate its weekend proposition going forward. The Sun on Sunday turned a year old yesterday (24 February).

When the News of the World shut down, an estimated 1.5 million readers left the Sunday market altogether. While the Sun on Sunday pulled a chunk of these consumers back to reach a circulation of about 2 million, Judge said News International is aiming to acquire more readers and advertisers.

He adds: “We don’t want to isolate the Sunday because that would negate the whole idea of a seven day operation, but there’s a great story to tell around Sunday behaviour where people have more free time, are looking for entertainment and tend to search online for high ticket items.”

Judge also reaffirmed News International’s stance that the Sun on Sunday is not a News of the World direct replacement, which has meant that some new advertisers – that may have been averse to the more “salacious” content – working with the publisher for Sunday slots.

It is understood News International’s advertising agency Grey is preparing a campaign to promote the paper to new and lapsed readers.

Top 5 advertisers in the Sun on Sunday

Source: Nielsen 2012 data

Advertiser Total expenditure

BSkyB £1.15m

Boots £719,000

P&G £640,000

O2 £564,000

William Hill £547,848

Sunday tabloid market circulation

Source: January ABC 2013

(Title, Circulation, Month/Month, Year/Year)

The Sun (Sunday) 2,010,826; 6.58; N/A

Daily Star Sunday 345,885; -4.12; -43.69

Sunday Mirror 1,039,150; 1.43; -40.95

Sunday People 429,157; 0.18; -45.46

Mail on Sunday 1,715,707; 1.68; -12.11

Sunday Express 471,625; -0.36; -26.03



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