De Groose Calls For Change Of Narrative Around Newsbrands

Tracy De Groose, executive chair of Newsworks, has pointed to a fundamental mismatch between newsbrands’ growing audiences and the decline in ad revenues, and called for a change in narrative.

Speaking to Mediatel, De Groose said ad revenues had corresponded more closely with shrinking print circulations rather than the growing multiplatform reach which newsbrands now enjoy.

 “I want to extend the fan-base and ultimately tell a different story about news, because the current narrative is too focused on the old world and the decline,” De Groose said. “I’m here to get it focused on the new world and the opportunities that come with it.”

“In the last ten years, multiplatform has created new access points to news,” she said. “Readership has grown to 40 – 45 million in the UK because more access points have been created.”

However, De Groose said ad revenues have not followed that same trajectory. Instead, they have corresponded more closely with shrinking print circulations, Mediatel reported.

“The monetisation of the expanded news ecosystem hasn’t happened,” she said, citing problems with digital trading which mixes quality journalistic content with the “amorphous mass” of the wider internet; media agency structures that have largely kept digital teams separate from print; and a missed opportunity to more widely use the PAMCo cross-platform readership currency.

“[2018] was the first time we were able to show that our industry is growing audiences, but that simple message is still not heard or acknowledged in the wider industry,” De Groose said.

Writing for Campaign this week, Nick Hewat, commercial director of Guardian News & Media, pointed to the wealth of evidence that advertisers are currently underspending newsbrands. 

He said: “News brands have never had a better sales story. We have evergreen qualities that advertisers cherish: an astonishing bond of trust with our readers, audience scale, brand-safe environments, quality, context, influence and attention.

“It has not been enough, though; in the past 10 years, revenue to news brands has halved, while our collective audiences have risen. The media maxim that “the money follows the eyeballs” has not been met on this occasion.

He added: In the past year, we can demonstrate big audiences who pay attention (PAMCo), we can offer advertisers trust and context when they really need those qualities and, most importantly, we have substantial evidence of advertising effectiveness, much of it impartial – Thinkbox and Radiocentre have both shown the value of news brands. We can now make the case for continuing to support journalism with increased investment from advertisers.

“Quality journalism is costly, time-consuming, truthful. It is vital to the way society works. It needs continuous funding. Brilliantly, it works for advertisers too.”