UK regional publishers seeing uplift in ad spend amid brand safety fears

UK regional publishers are seeing some of the money previously pumped programmatically in to video channels being spent against their articles as agencies and brands begin to think more carefully about what content their ads are sitting against.

UK regional publishers seeing uplift in ad spend amid brand safety fears

According to 1XL, a premium publisher partnership comprised of 30 local news publishers including Archant and Newsquest, it has seen an uplift in interest from advertisers amid the fallout from the brand safety conversation.

“Some of the money that was going in to video and YouTube, which was unquestionably just being dumped in to programmatic performing channels, is now being spent directly with us as a publisher proposition,” Scott Gill, managing director of 1XL told The Drum. “In terms of numbers I would expect there to be reasonable to significant growth this year partly off the back of that.”

The partnership released an open letter to national advertisers earlier this week (3 April) to persuade them to use local news media to avoid their content being placed next to fake or extremist content. The letter highlighted a number of statistics including how local news site content is trusted almost three times more than what gets posted on social networks.

“What we are doing is seizing the opportunity to highlight something we and other premium newspapers are becoming frustrated with, which is effectively a disintermediation by the duopoly of Facebook and Google, which is failing to recognise the market value that our inventory brings and needs to attract in order to support paid for journalism.”

Unlike automated trading platforms and SSPs, local news content relies on human judgement and discretion as opposed to algorithms; a selling point local publishers are hoping will help to win back some advertising spend in uncertain times.

“National advertisers should in this period of concern about brand safe environments be paying more attention to the great value and the huge audiences and trust that premium local news brands represent,” said Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest.

“As a whole we find that they are now reaching in many cases over 70% of adult population each month. For example, in York, the local paper reaches 76% of adults each month, and that is audience levels that will be seen across many of the regional publishing markets across the UK. You compare that to Facebook, which is plateauing at 50%, and you can see that we are somewhat puzzled about why there has been such a significant herd mentally towards like of Facebook when we are sitting there with much higher local audiences and much higher trust values of content.”

Despite the recent furore around YouTube, Google and Facebook are still expected to extend their dominance of digital advertising this year to control 60% of the market. So how can much smaller local news brands compete with the scale and automation operated by their global counterparts?

“On one level it’s not just about straight competition, realistically are we going to compete as a technological force with Google? No. Are we always going to have a dependency with the tech interface that Google provides? Yes we are, but this is as much about gaining special recognition for advertising and media which sits against premium quality news content, versus media or advertising opportunities sat against fake news, and then lesser invested in and certainly unregulated news platforms in the middle. So, this is about recognition of the value and ultimately that is about making sure editorial and proper journalism continues to be a sustainable endeavour,” added Gill.

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