Blanche Sainsbury: Local Newsbrands Are Increasing Cross Platform Reach

Local Media Works chairman Blanche Sainsbury has written of the increased cross platform reach of local media, and the importance of Sir Martin Sorrell’s comments about the news media industry earlier this year.  

Blanche, Local World commercial director, wrote: “Much has been made of Sir Martin Sorrell’s comments earlier this year about the undervaluation of newspapers as an advertising medium. The WPP chief executive said that newspapers are more effective than some people currently think because of the high levels of engagement readers have with them.

“As well as sparking considerable debate, Sir Martin’s comments had the effect of prompting other media industry leaders such as MediaCom’s Stephen Allan, Starcom’s Iain Jacob and Saatchi & Saatchi’s Pablo Del Campo to come out and voice their support for newspapers.

“Their comments are an important and timely contribution to the debate as the local newsbrand sector stabilises after the economic downturn and adapts to the realities of the modern media environment. 

“Local newsbrands have the ability to deliver large audiences; and in a multi-platform world this reach is growing.  New data from JICREG shows that the cross platform reach of local media across print and digital has grown to 40 million people – that’s 78 per cent of the UK population.  This growth is of course fuelled by rapid increases in digital audiences – more and more people are consuming our brands online.

“Many publishers are increasingly working collaboratively with partners both within and outside the industry to ensure that our advertisers can benefit fully from our unique and trusted relationship with local communities.  We are using data to enable our customers to precisely target the audiences they most want to reach.

“These developments are an integral part of our business and we will continue to innovate as fast as technology allows us to.

“But, as an industry, we know that one of our most powerful assets is still the printed local newspaper. An often overlooked fact is that local press publishers continued to launch new print titles right through the economic downturn, underlining the industry’s commitment to, and faith in, the print medium.

“Readers are highly engaged with local media and this delivers a meaningful and highly trusted context for advertisers.  It’s quite right that leading figures in the media industry such as Sir Martin Sorrell have drawn attention to this in recent months. 

“One of our initiatives at Local Media Works this year has been to launch the Local Media Works Awards for media planners. The awards challenge entrants to think about local news media, the different commercial opportunities the sector now offers, and write a strategy for a national client.

“As chairman of the judges, I will be looking for entries that show a clear understanding of what the sector now offers and how these assets can be leveraged for advertisers. We will be looking for creativity, innovative thinking, and a real grasp of how local press now works across print and digital platforms.

“The industry is successfully adapting to the new media world which we all now inhabit and Sir Martin’s comments are a timely reminder that newspapers still have a fundamental role to play.”