Martin Corrigan | Board Director, Head of Investment

I recently travelled down to London to attend two media trade marketing events, both handily scheduled on the same day – good for travel, but strangely at conflicting times; Not so good for attendances.  The first was Newsworks who were presenting their new research on Profit Return on Investment (PROI) and this was followed by the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Festival 2018.

It was going to be a full-on and exciting day of print insight and catch ups.  Now both events were excellent and well worth attending, but what interested me was how each trade body addressed the same challenge of ‘bias’ but with different narratives. It was straight into Newsworks ‘Planning for Profit’ research.  Vanessa Clifford, CEO opened by explaining why this piece of work was different; It’s the first time Newsworks have reported on cross platform news brands performance.  Produced in partnership with Benchmarketing, the research consisted of a meta-analysis of 684 econometric studies between 2011-2017 covering 31 different advertiser categories.

The monstrous figure from the morning was that advertisers have lost over £3bn of profit due to them under-utilising news brands across those campaigns evaluated.  Optimising digital news brands spends alone would have increased campaign profit levels by over £300m.  This supplied a robust platform to directly challenge advertisers and agencies to re-balance their digital display investments.  With a firm requesting for digital news brands to see increased support due to the effectiveness of context, relevance, and quality in delivering profit.

Newsworks have published their full findings in a 91-page book as well as via an interactive online tool at The tool has simplified a robust study down to allow anyone to see the optimum PROI share splits for print and digital news brands by category and total media spend.

An early finish by Newsworks allowed me to hot foot it over to the PPA Festival 2018 at Tobacco Docks, a great venue to bring the 700 businesses the PPA represents under one roof and creating 36 different panel sessions on 4 different stages.

When I arrived, ‘The Magnetic Sessions: Biases and Blind Spots’ session had just begun on the Trust stage (others were Innovate, Passion and Together).  The media pundit and columnist Dominic Mills chaired and the panel portrayed the serious implications for the medium of false consensus effect from marketers and agencies.  False consensus being the effect when people overestimate the extent to which their personal beliefs, opinions or habits are normal and typical of those of others. In other words, assuming that others think the same way you do, leading to the perception of a consensus that actually doesn’t exist.  Guess what? All titles are not in mass decline, and the false belief that they are has damaged publishers in recent years; And this must stop.

The next session I attended covered sector health and revenue growth models under the title banner of ‘All Together Now’; And hosted by Claire Beale, Global Editor-in-Chief of Campaign did well keeping the CEO’s from Immediate, Shortlist, Bauer and Hearst in line.  I was particularly interested in the boundless enthusiasm for relationship and revenue stretch, though hopefully not at any cost.  The B2C panel discussed the need to drive new models, and each discussed how they looked to convert readers into customers using brand extension products.  Events clearly tried and tested by Bauer, but James Wildman of Hearst mentioned their deal with Country Living and Coast & County Hotels; stating that its partnership had the hotel fully booked across a wet spring.

It was agreed for the moment that none of the panel can neglect the advertising model, least of which Shortlist (ad-funded) but even Ella Dolphin told the audience that 50% of their revenues now came from their creative content agency ‘Family’.  It’s a bold move but not surprising that the magazine sector looks to leverage the trust factor that they score so highly on, with ‘relevancy and meaning’ playing a significant part in trust.

Enders Analysis’ recent ‘Passion Pays’ study states that roughly that 90% of growth in household expenditure over the last 5 years has been spent on passion.  Or simply in an area where consumers care, whether health, food, travel etc.  Dare I say, a perfect space for the magazine industry.  So, a great opportunity to take a slice of this new money.

With re-structures, office moves and title changes near complete across the big players, publishers are gaining a stronger understanding of the levels of stretch, and in what sectors and specifically titles.  The only minor point being they need to carefully understand where snapping point lies, too much stretch from pushing readers too hard may detract from core values and subscriptions.

Now with PAMCo fully launched and delivering excellent single source measurement and providing total reach figures for the market, this only adds to my confidence that we’re in a stronger place to display the power and influence that print and publishing partnerships can deliver for clients.

It was a great day to check-in with both trade bodies, the hard numbers focus with meta-analysis on PROI from newsworks gives a tangible piece of work to challenge planner and client bias.  Conversely the softer approach and use of social perception studies of false consensus approach by the PPA fits with the context approach of informing audience.

Arming the wider advertising market with a better understanding of bias and with additional research and measurement is only a good thing, but only time will tell in seeing if this new knowledge transforms into revenue rises in 2018 and beyond.