The year ahead for news brands

Steven Ballinger

Managing director – commercial and trading, Amplifi

thought leadership

Renewed focus on editorial quality will help drive trust

Trust. A small word that carries great significance. A word that is actually a valuable commodity for newsbrands as we enter what you only expect to be another eventful but unpredictable year.


Uncertainty in public life has eroded consumer trust in many public institutions with the only thing uniting respondents to Edelman’s Trust Barometer is a sense of injustice and desire for change. In the fast-paced, digital world that we now operate in, its unsurprising journalism has also come under scrutiny.  However, in this era of mistrust and ‘fake news’, people are still finding a sanctuary in the quality output of their preferred newsbrand, an Ofcom study found that 70% of people had confidence in the publication they read. 


This comes at a time where consumer demand for content has become insatiable and time spent engaging with publications across numerous different platforms has never been so high. The year 2019 represented a watershed for newsbrands as they found effective ways to really leverage the heritage and expertise that has given them this trusted position within society.


An improvement in advertising standards for these platforms brought greater confidence in brand safety for advertisers, which was only made possible as the result of greater collaboration. The pooling of digital inventory through initiatives such as the Ozone project has become a fundamental part of the industry, and while publications experience differing intensity of commercial pressures, the drive for consensus through collaboration is likely to continue.


The renewed focus on refocusing on quality editorial content has borne fruit for many and will be a continued trend as titles seek to maximise the value of their content across different platforms rather than simply trying to squeeze every last drop out of their advertising inventory. 


While both these elements are likely to play a pivotal role in the sector in 2020, the greater tech integration that they can offer will be a real difference marker and a huge draw for advertisers. This is only likely to be heightened by an increased focus from the major tech players like Apple, who will look to maximise the return on their investment in products and services like News+.


At the same time, agencies are getting to grips with how to better chart the way people engage with different channels through better integrated planning tools that merge multiple datapoints. As such, contextual buying is becoming a reality in many agency groups and will become a key differentiator in the market.


Likewise, the desire for better measurement remains and the introduction of more sophisticated metrics like consumer attention will become an industry standard. The evolution of these metrics is likely to make alignment in the metrics devised by industry bodies even more important, especially as advertisers look for a single, established industry standard.


After all, building on the power of trust for newsbrands will only help the sector continue to flourish. 


This article first appeared in Campaign in January 2020