The open letter, published today by 24 local news publishers including Johnston Press, Newsquest and Archant, is calling on ad agencies and brands to direct spend towards them amid brand safety concerns.
The regional publishers say their content is published by "thousands of trained and vastly skilled journalists" and are regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, while these publications score high on trust and play a valuable role in serving local communities.
1XL, the publisher partnership representing local newsbrands to national advertisers, is also today publishing its own online advertising charter which confirms ads will not appear next to extremist content and fake news.
Last week Johnston Press reported a £300m pre-tax loss after the company’s ad revenues dropped 18% last year, with jobs and property sector ads hit hardest.
And a month earlier Newsquest, a subsidiary of US media giant Gannett, reported a £47m operating loss for 2015, following a change in accounting model which had given the company a £51m operating profit for 2014. The National Union of Journalists criticised the company for making its finances less opaque and told Press Gazette that Newsquest's editorial resources were "starved".
Scott Gill, managing director of 1XL, said: "1XL’s unique proposition provides advertisers with the authority to reach local audiences at scale.
"We believe that publishers need to come together to put pressure on other less transparent trading platforms/SSPs to introduce a recognised and endorsed system of inventory quality. We believe 1XL’s online advertising charter is setting the standard for this."
The open letter in full:
As Google, YouTube and Facebook continue to grapple with the concerns around ads appearing next to extremist content and fake news, we wanted to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the trusted, safe and highly responsive online advertising environment provided by the UK’s local news brands and represented by the 1XL partnership.
As a premium publisher co-operative, 1XL represents over 800 local news brands in the UK with a reach of over 22.7 million people, making us one of the country’s largest digital advertising propositions. This ranges from the Shetland Times in the north of Scotland to the Falmouth Packet in Cornwall, and includes large regional brands such as The Yorkshire Post and The (Glasgow) Herald. In many of the towns and cities that we publish in, we now reach over 70% of the adult population each month.
Our content is produced by thousands of trained and highly skilled local journalists who spend their days engaging with communities up and down the country through their coverage of the stories and events affecting their lives. Our content is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the independent regulator that holds us to account for our actions and upholds our high standards of journalism. The context in which this puts your advertising increases engagement, trust and therefore consumer response, giving you better value for money alongside the peace of mind of a safe advertising placement.
Maintaining the integrity of our content and our advertising environment is fundamental to us, and local news brands have always scored extremely well for trust. This was validated by a recent ComScore survey of UK Internet users - people said they trusted content on local news sites almost three times more than they did on social media.
Today we publish our online advertising charter (available at 1xl.co.uk/adcharter). The purpose of this is to ensure our advertisers are given the chance to see the standards and processes we work to in order to guarantee that they get the transparency, trust and value that we believe they deserve.
We stand in agreement that local news brands online are now more than ever a great place for you to communicate and market your business and brands to the UK’s consumers.
What’s more your advertising helps us to continue to fund much needed, high quality local journalism. We hope you will stand together with us to support our local news brands, many of which have been publishing for over 150 years, so their unique content can continue to be loved and trusted for many generations to come.
Alpha Media Group
Bullivant Media Limited
Independent News and Media PLC
Isle of Wight County Press
Johnston Press PLC
Newbury Weekly News
Newsquest Media Group
Oldham Evening Chronicle
Scottish Provincial Press Ltd
The Shetland Times