Media Brand

Future of Media: News brand safety, print & TV commerce, CNN's livestream paywall


By John McCarthy | Media editor

May 13, 2021 | 8 min read

With our Future of TV deep-dive in the bag, we are starting to look forward to our next special editorial focus, on gaming, later this month. In the meantime, let's explore the news brand safety debate, Bauer Media's print e-commerce efforts and a few more TV takeaways.

TV clean-up

Our Future of TV deep-dive showed that TV has become shoppable with addressable tech opening up more performance-based approaches. Carat’s Dan Calladine kindly explored the rise of t-commerce (trial-buy commerce).


He points out: "TV shopping isn’t new. The likes of QVC and infomercials have been around since the 80s, letting people buy directly from their screen by calling a number, essentially TV-based mail order. And in the early 2010s there were experiments using Shazam as a response mechanism for TV, including a trial in the UK in 2012 during a break in Britain’s Got Talent. It never really seemed to take off, however, due to the friction involved in opening your phone, opening Shazam, making sure it could hear the TV etc."

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Now CTV brings all those processes onto the single device, the friction has been removed, he writes. I'll be talking to Tim Pearson, Sky Media's managing director, on this very topic following Sky making its VOD inventory available on the Trade Desk.

The Drum's TV deep-dive was supported by partner Thinkbox which this morning told me it's had 1,784 graduates from its TV Masters course in six months. The course remains open until Monday 19 July and it's well worth checking out.

News brand safety PR war

This one from Chris Sutcliffe caused a bit of an inbox ruckus. A study from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Brand Safety Institute (BSI) showed how 802 UK consumers felt about ads running next to news content. It's a sore topic: almost a year ago, Newsworks estimated that keyword exclusion was set to cost UK publishers £50m. That's a conservative estimate naturally.

In the new consumer study, just over a third of respondents (36%) said it was appropriate to advertise against any news content, while similar proportions opposed advertising against specific news topics such violent protests and riots (37%) and ‘Covid-19 deaths and tragedies’ (33%). It's a meaty subject, I'm suspicious of any study that doesn't show consumers' contempt of advertising in any format but I digress. The public's distaste of advertising on certain mediums has rarely stopped advertisers from advertising on these mediums.

I ask, what is the actual risk of clashing with these stories in premium environments? Today I saw Ford pushing an EcoBoost hybrid next to the awful news coming out of Israel via The Guardian. I think it's brilliant that this huge brand is funding this vital reporting.

The story's politically divisive, it has death, sadness, conflict, all of the eggshells brands supposedly want to avoid treading on. But what danger does being here pose to Ford? Has the brand safety danger been over-stated? Claire Atkins of Branded thought so earlier this year. If the person's smart enough to read in-depth coverage about the Israel/Palestine conflict, they're probably not going to think that Ford's got an opinion on it either way, no? They understand they get free news because of the ads, surely?

In the report, Mike Zaneis, chief executive of TAG, said: “The past year has brought forth the four horsemen of toxic content into the advertising ecosystem: death, lies, political poison and hate speech. As brand safety threats quickly evolve, UK consumers are looking to advertising industry leaders to identify and address those types of unsafe and inappropriate content in real-time.”

The four horsemen were always there. It's just marketers have only started being held responsible for the outlets and information they fund. There are growing movements to block the transgressors at a publisher level rather than on a page-by-page level via contextual tools. Top brands preaching progressive purpose, diversity, and inclusion know who's providing a public service with their journalism... and who's driving division and page views... right?

The debate rages, the inbox will continue to fill with competing takes, and you can read Chris Sutcliffe's account here.

Print's role in e-commerce

Can print drive e-commerce sales? Bauer Media thinks so. And it thinks it has to work without QR codes or watermarks. So it's working with a firm called Phuzion to create "seamless shopping experiences straight off the page".

What does that entail? Print images are being made recognisable to in-camera image recognition tech. Theoretically, snapping a picture of a garment (it's mostly fashion verticals so far) should take you to the commerce landing page.

The future of shopping is increasingly based around image recognition. Pinterest and Snap are making huge strides in the space, and it appears print mags are in the race too - still hugely influential in these journeys. Read about that here.

Other Stuff

That's you all caught up. If you missed the last installment, read it here. You can subscribe to our other briefings here. And if you want to talk to me, I'm on Twitter, Linkedin and email.

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