Scottish media owners are investing more time and money into the internet than ever before despite failed attempts in the past to make money. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. Audiences have expectations but so do investors and media owners. Why invest resources, especially while times are tight, to a medium that is not going to bring a return?
However, this is changing. Media owners are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. And as more and more of the valuable audiences migrate online, the value of a good digital platform is emerging.
Digital strategies are maturing in line with such migrations, with owners and advertisers keen to utilise new technologies and thinking to target their audiences.
Scotsman Publications was one of the first Scottish owners to invest heavily online with its Scotsman.com portal. However, others were quick to follow.
This trend continues to this day, with media giants and local publishers alike all pushing their online limits.
In recent days alone, Scotland has seen a flurry of online activity among its media owners. DC Thomson-owned Aberdeen Journals has appointed a new agency to develop its online offering; The List has beefed-up its online presence, hiring a former Scotsman.com team; The Daily Record continues to drive readers online and has recently launched a new Business Insider daily briefing; The Aberdeen Independent has launched a new site following demand and Newsquest’s Herald and Times Group has now launched a new online advertising platform, Digital Scotland.
The launch of Digital Scotland is in response to the perceived lack of online platforms where advertisers can target a defined, Scottish audience. Something that even media buyers often find difficult to target.
"Historically, when planning an advertiser's online campaign, the lack of choice available has been pretty poor for an advertiser with an interest only in reaching people online and resident in Scotland,” says Morven Gow, associate director at The Media Shop.
"To make sure that Scottish companies can, for example, sell goods to Scottish based surfers and customers, we need our traditional media to step forward with websites attractive and relevant.”
Digital Scotland has been billed by the Herald and Times Group as the first one stop shop, dedicated to advertisers looking to reach Scotland’s internet audience.
The Digital Scotland network brings together the s1 family of sites along with the online editions of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times. The combined portfolio reaches over one million internet users in Scotland each month, serving up more than 24 million page impressions.
Tim Blott, managing director of Herald & Times Group, says of the launch: “More than 3 million people use the internet regularly in Scotland, with around 50 percent of them going online every day. Yet for brand advertisers looking to reach them the options have been limited at best. Digital Scotland changes all that. Because unlike some other so-called ‘Scottish’ sites, the vast majority of our users actually live, work and spend in Scotland.”
In May last year STV redefined its brand vision to be Scotland’s source of information and entertainment.
The brand was looking to capture the hearts and minds of Scots on every level, whether they wish to engage on-screen, online or via mobile phone.
STV launched a new online portal (stv.tv) in July last year, created by Glasgow digital agency Dog Digital, a site that has been evolving ever since.
STV, working with Dog and Argentinian specialists Globant, created a site to target a wide Scottish audience. A strategic digital marketing plan for the new online channel was created, including design and integration of the new brand; navigation and digital marketing in the form of a sizeable online campaign. The company’s new online offering marked the launch of a new e-commerce strategy for STV. Online dating, a ‘going out’ section, bingo and other gaming elements have been launched, often utilizing third-party partnerships.
“Advertising online doesn’t always offer users a reason to interact,” says Dog Digital MD Gerry McCusker. “If a site can forge mutually beneficial agreements for both the owner and the partner, as well as giving the user a reason to interact, then it will be successful.
“The aim of the stv.tv website is two fold. The interactivity builds traffic, which will be attractive to advertisers, providing a straight-forward advertising revenue. However the interactivity will also act to build data, turning viewers into customers through the growth of profiling and personalisation. It is now another fully commercial channel.”
“The STV site will not just be used to reinforce the brand. It is there to generate an income too,” continues Andrew Windsor, e-commerce director at STV. “We’ve also done some very interesting deals, working on revenue share models with third parties. Advertising will continue to grow online, but what advertising often doesn’t do online is add to the site in any way. If we can help advertisers reach the right customer in a highly targeted way, that’s great, but to drive the use of the site we have developed commercial agreements with partners that can deliver interesting content and functionality to our customers.”
head of marketing, Internet Advertising Bureau
Online advertising really isn’t that difficult, just ask anyone that’s involved in it, but it is very easy to put up obstacles to prevent you from taking the leap. The good news is that the marketing community have realised this too, spending over £2bn advertising online in the UK last year. In fact, at 11.4 percent we have a greater market share than any other country in the world. So, job done? Definitely not – in my opinion there remains great scope for advertisers to maximise their digital presence. For those just starting to make their mark online (and even those that have been doing it for a while) there still exists some popular myths regarding advertising online that serve as mental impediments to fully embracing the digital medium. For the phenomenal growth of online to continue these myths need to be dispelled – allow me;
Myth 1 – Online advertising is only good for direct response
With broadband penetration now at 89 percent, online advertising is increasingly used for engaging consumers at the place they see the ad rather than driving them through to another online destination. In short, it is no longer all about the click-through. Time spent interacting, actions completed within the rich media format and research tracking awareness are just some of the ways that major advertisers are now using the channel to build rather than merely flog their brand.
Myth 2 – Online is cheap, quick and easy to implement
If you are not developing your online strategy and production at the same time as traditional media planning you are already behind and may be spending more money than needed. Don’t treat online as afterthought, tagging it on once your ads have gone to print or are
appearing on TV. If your brand commands excellent above the line production values, then digital should be no different – it’s the same brand and the same consumer after all.
Myth 3 – Online advertising
is complicated and too technical
True, online is frequently accompanied by a sack load of jargon, but certainly no more than any other media. Internet marketing is still reliant on creative, relevant and engaging ads being delivered to the right audience at the right time. No different from any other media and I’m sure makes no more sense than 48$, TVRs, OTS, ROI and Bogofs.
Myth 4 – Online does not give you reach
With over 30 million people online in the UK – accounting for 65 percent of all adults – this one’s a no-brainer. What’s even more exciting is that you can reach your target audience without any waste. Through browser habits, content and behavioural targeting you can hit the desired demographic, the necessary amount of times and with the right message.
Myth 5 – Online is just pop ups, search and short term fads like Second Life
Online provides a rich tapestry of channels with which to target your audience. Search, social networks, video, blogs, in-game advertising, display, affiliates, sponsorships, email and now mobile are just a few examples... The challenge is not to be seduced by the latest thing, (don’t ask your agency for a web 2.0!) but to identify where your consumers are spending their time and target them that way.
Despite online advertising being the fastest growing channel in the UK – as well as the most measurable – it still needs to be considered within a broad mix of media. As revenues are set to increase and more and more users take to online, it is no longer a channel to be written off as too technical or treated as an after thought. It would appear that the toughest challenge for advertisers today is altering that mindset, forgetting those annoying and intrusive dial-up days and recognising a new reality of marketing with online at the heart.
Case Study – Scotsman.com
and Lloyds TSB Scotland
Lloyds TSB Scotland Corporate Banking division had the difficult task of finding relevant ways to speak to key decision makers and boardroom influencers. It needs to achieve significant impact with its advertising in order to stand out from the clutter of competitors.
Scotsman Publications aimed to provide Lloyds TSB Scotland with a ‘different’ platform from which they could effectively communicate key corporate and business banking brand values and services.
The solution was Lloyds TSB Scotland Corporate sponsoring a new newsletter from Scotsman.com – Scottish Business Briefing - a daily business news email service, which over 8,500 scotsman.com users subscribe to.
Scotsman.com specifically created a banner slot along the top, a button to the right and an inline text ad for Lloyds after the first subsection of business news. Each of these advertising sites clicked through to dedicated Lloyds TSB Scotland pages.
Family, Lloyds’ creative agency, was involved throughout the whole process. The agency designed high-impact creative, which generated the stand out necessary to increase Lloyds TSB Scotland Corporate’s goal of increased brand awareness.
Lloyds backed this daily email up with rich media Overlayz on the Business Channel, which achieved a high click-through, enhancing the overall sponsorship campaign.
The whole process was measured by scotsman.com’s ad serving technology, which reported campaign responses. Additionally, using the online research tool, two questionnaires were sent to third party opt-in subscribers, measuring awareness of and interaction with the Lloyds TSB Scotland Corporate brand before and after. The results showed the sponsorship had been noticed and was clearly working to deliver the message and brand perception required.
Lloyds TSB Scotland is still currently the main sponsor of scotsman.com’s Business Briefing newsletter, one year on.
Voted website of the year in 2002, 2003 and 2006 (Newspaper Society Awards), Scotsman.com has ABCe audited figures (Jan 2007) of 22,289,152 page impressions per month from 3,824,146 unique users; and Hitwise recently ranked it as the largest media website in Scotland and seventh most searched for media site in UK.
Online facts, figures and Quotes
Ã¯In 2006 £2.016 billion was spent online by advertisers
targeting the 31 million people connected to the internet. The growth has increased the internet's share of all advertising revenues to 11.4 percent, up from 7.8 percent in 2005.
Ã¯Expenditure on the internet overtook advertising in
national newspapers, which last year recorded growth of 0.2 percent to £1.9 billion and a market share of 10.9 percent. In 2006, the internet was just over half the size of the TV advertising market, which experienced a fall of 4.7 percent to £3.9 billion.
Ã¯“2006 was a tough 12 months for the advertising
market as a whole, but once again the internet bucked the trend, recording a 41 percent increase in ad revenues.” Guy Phillipson, IAB chief executive
Ã¯Advertising across all traditional media combined fell by
£466.1 million year-on-year, a 2.9 percent decline. However, online spend boosted the entire advertising industry, which grew by 1.1 percent in 2006. The upward momentum of the internet reflects a new era in marketing communication and consumer behaviour, driven by high-speed broadband take-up and user-generated content.
Ã¯In the second half of 2006, online advertising
experienced its highest market share ever reported when expenditure topped £1.098 billion – a 12.4 percent share of total UK advertising.
Figures are from the biannual online advertising
spend study by the IAB, carried out in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Advertising Research Centre.