It's time for printed press to reinvent itself

The arrival of the new Audience Measurement for Publishers is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, writes Steve Goodman, managing director, print trading at Group M UK.

It’s not often you get a chance to reinvent yourself. Madonna might disagree, or, for the younger audience who don’t know who Madonna is, the Apple iPhone offer a good example. Yet such a rare occasion has arrived for publishers of both magazines and newspapers.

Print or "offline" revenues are decreasing by double digits every year and their digital replacements are not growing nearly fast enough. The arrival of the new Audience Measurement for Publishers (AMP) readership data later this year (replacing the NRS or National Readership Survey) is a brilliant opportunity for the medium to capitalise on the breadth of coverage they have with highly engaging editorial content across all of their delivery platforms.

AMP will give the industry a chance to reposition its role in the marketing mix, become more appealing to planners, and to make a fantastic case to attract back those revenues that have been moving into the pure-play digital arena.

Not only will the new survey cover more titles (print, digital and mobile) than ever before, with over 90 brands included, but it will also allow the de-duplication of readership across the platforms, to ensure the medium’s delivery of audiences is completely accountable.  

Furthermore, AMP will continue to deliver the gold-standard research, previously supplied by the NRS, through 35,000 face-to-face interviews and a digital panel of 5,000 people which links to comScore data.

Why does AMP matter so much for the industry?

1 - For the first time, print titles will have accurate, industry approved, independent data that tells advertisers just how powerful their brands are across both print and digital platforms, including mobile.

2 - Despite the rumours that only older people read print press publications, the reality is very different. Newsbrands – that’s just newspapers and not including magazines – reach 47.5 million adults in the UK each month, which is more than Google according to NRS data, and an increase of more than seven million in just nine years. AMP will allow planners and buyers to interrogate this data further than ever before.

3 - AMP will allow us to change the conversation by emphasising the scale that print publishers can deliver combined with pinpoint targeting of audiences, giving print titles a competitive edge over rival and often less effective media channels.

4 - It will deliver a shift from a focus on insertion-by-insertion bookings where print and digital publications were previously dealt with separately.

Now is the right time to consider a different approach to the planning and trading of print publisher’s inventory. Of course, this requires collaboration between buyer and seller, and some level of consistency across the industry which I feel AMP will help to deliver.

Telmar and IMS, the organisations that provide the tools to enable the AMP data to be crunched, are already reviewing the opportunities to optimise data in new ways, which may allow planners to deliver improved cross-platform solutions. There is also a real possibility of fusing AMP data with proprietary data, held either at client, media owner or agency levels - GDPR permitting - which will dramatically improve targeting.

AMP will allow publishers to focus much more tightly on delivering improvements in brand awareness and saliency through established and trustworthy news brands utilising improved data.

It may also allow us to reconsider the units and currency by which plans are developed and traded utilising the breadth of publisher’s inventory. This might be looking at units of audience delivery by publishers across their platforms, weighted to take account of the relative impact of each, which may vary by advertising sector or key objectives.

Both tailored and 'off-the-peg'

Of course, this requires collaboration between buyer and seller, and some level of consistency across the industry. It may need further specific research, for instance, to establish what these blended units of audience delivery should be and how weightings might be applied. We could also be planning and negotiating on BPUs (or Blended Publishing Units) rather than traditional SCCs and MPUs.

The most immediate opportunity for publishers will be the ability to create and sell both tailored and "off-the-peg" packages across all of their products and platforms, delivering clearly defined audiences at scale, on the basis of both gross, and nett de-duplicated figures.  There can now be motoring, sports or luxury packages for instance both on and off line, in a way that has not been possible before.

Established print brands have proven trust scores which are significantly higher than social media can deliver. There is a host of data both at Newsworks and Magnetic to highlight the importance of the trusted environment that publishers offer, and the positive impact on brands that reside within it by way of advertising or promotion. Focusing on brand power will allow publishers to become the first port of call, alongside TV, for many of the UK’s biggest advertisers.

Delivering on this new opportunity will take a shared vision and co-operation. Previous attempts to work together and create a single sales point have failed, but a sophisticated research backed "BPU" (or whatever a new currency is called) could deliver many of the same benefits.

The future for print could be hugely positive, but the industry must seize the opportunity. It’s time to reinvent press for good.

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