So much has been happening across the news and publishing industry over the last couple of weeks as a result of the Covid – 19 pandemic. It may fundamentally change the publishing industry, writes Abiola 

What is changing in the news landscape and why is news so important?

The news and media landscape has undergone huge change and been utterly transformed by digital technology, with further momentum gained with the ever-increasing presence of social media. Whilst these developments have brought convenience, connectivity and technology to the industry, they have also raised important questions about the role and legitimacy of news platforms in society. Donald Trump’s Fake News propaganda is a case in point. Brand safety and fraud are key concerns in a digital age, issues that are compounded further by a media landscape muddied by lack of media trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer – perhaps the clearest indicator of consumer sentiment towards media – shows that trust between advertiser and consumer presents challenges which newsbrands are well placed to address.

Borderline universal Internet accessibility allows content and opinion to be viewed and shared by anyone, anywhere around the world. The growing number of news sources has served to increase distrust and misinformation at the forefront of many people’s minds in recent times. The on-going issue of ‘fake news’ in tandem with the COVID-19 outbreak has provided a timely reminder on why quality, well-researched news is so important and demonstrates the value placed on reliably sourced news stories.

How has working with news brands changed in recent years? 

Technology has been instrumental in how newsbrands have evolved over time, with organisations investing heavily in their digital presence, whether this is through optimisation of their mobile platforms to allow a more user-friendly experience, or through the increased volume of programmatic ad buying. The rise in programmatic in particular has caused pause for thought as to how the digital ecosystem must deal with the issues of scale, measurement and transparency. The Ozone Project has helped to mitigate any discomfort around such issues and proves how brands can ensure that their message appears to the right audience in the right environments using vetted first-party publisher data.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on newsbrands?

Covid 19 is an unprecedented event with ramifications that will impact all walks of life for some time to come. During this worldwide pandemic, confidence in the information is imperative for the consumer and thus quality journalism has never been more important. Reliability and trust are at the very core of Newsbrands tenets and as such, they are the crucial channel in providing information during periods of crisis. People are clearly seeking trustworthy and comprehensive information and this is reflected in the increased digital subscriber numbers that quality newsbrands have since the current situation took hold of the country.

A recent report conducted by Edelman found that 67% of Brits are “getting most of their information on the virus from major news organisations”, well ahead of the national government (34%) and social media (22%). Kantar’s ‘COVID-19 Barometer’ research corroborates these findings, with traditional national news channels being deemed the most trusted sources of information.
Before the lockdown was enforced in the UK, the latest readership data from PAMCo showed that quality British journalism is being read by more people than ever before – 26 million people a day.

Keyword blocking remains a massive issue for Newsbrands over Coronavirus with a significant revenue being lost as a result. This has been a problem for historically, however, Coronavirus has amplified this further as people have turned to quality news sources during this time and a huge proportion of news stories, and therefore traffic, are centred around the topic. Monetising the growth in the audience has proven to be difficult as, understandably, advertisers don’t want to be around negative articles, but lots of Coronavirus articles are news bulletins, demographic info and positive NHS hero stories. These pages often also fall foul of blocklists. If we are to celebrate newsbrands for the incredible service they provide, then perhaps more faith needs to be had and a more human approach taken instead of complete reliance on technology.

Digital growth for publishers will add to the growing importance of PAMCO as a form of measurement. When PAMCo was launched in April 2018, for the first time it gave agencies the ability to view de-duplicated reach and frequency of audience delivery across all publisher platforms, outlining clearly what print, mobile, tablet and desktop platforms all add to a schedule. The platform’s capacity to be flexible to the evolution of published content will enable it to keep pace with digital developments and changing consumer habits.

First published by Demi Abiola on LinkedIn